In the inaugural Media Files today, a gross headline about sexual harassment claims against US President Donald Trump breaches Australian Press Council principles, journos get their Colvins in a twist, and the former ABC head of TV Kim Dalton has published a manifesto on the public broadcaster. This is also the new home of Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings.

Knockers away. Using a headline of “Knockers come out” over a story about sexual harassment allegations against US President Donald Trump has, unsurprisingly, breached the Australian Press Council’s principles.

Queensland’s The Sunday Mail told the Press Council they only meant to use “knockers” in the sense of “critic” in the October 2016 article, but the Press Council said in context it had two meanings (including a “vulgar” reference to women’s breasts) and could be read as mocking women who complained about sexual harassment. The council said in its adjudication: 

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“The council considered that the alternative meaning of the word ‘knockers’ as in ‘critics’, in the context of an article on multiple sexual harassment complaints, also had the effect of trivialising the seriousness of the complaints as mere criticisms. This meaning could also cause or contribute materially to substantial offence, distress and prejudice to people who have experienced sexual harassment or made sexual harassment complaints, or to women generally.”

Under the Press Council guidelines, publications should “avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice … unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest”. 

Which Colvin it it? In The Weekend Australian‘s Strewth columnist James Jeffrey poked fun at The Guardian Australia on Saturday for mixing up Australian Federal Police head Andrew Colvin — announcing the illegal accessing of a journalists’ metadata — with the ABC’s Mark Colvin — a self-proclaimed “hardline defender of journalists’ metadata privacy rights”.

Perhaps Jeffrey should have offered fact-checking services to News Corp Australia colleagues over at The Daily Telegraph before they went to print with their Saturday edition, which made the same mistake on the front page, again in the story on page 7, and in the editorial. 

Tele reporters hit the streets — one block away. The Daily Telegraph‘s front-page splash on Friday, detailing the “drug crisis” in Sydney, featured a series of photos of a “dead-eyed” drug user trying to inject himself in Surry Hills. The images were taken on “busy” Sophia Street, one block from News Corp Australia’s headquarters, where the Tele is based. As our tipster said, “most reporters probably venture further for lunch”. 

Fox to expand free-to-air in US. According to the Financial Times, the Murdoch clan’s 21st Century Fox is about to make a major purchase to expand its free-to-air footprint in the US market. Fox will effectively spin off some of its own TV stations into a joint venture company. The deal is the first in the US since the Trump administration loosened the rules controlling TV station ownership. It is a direct benefit of the closeness of Rupert Murdoch to Donald Trump.

The paper says Fox is talking to huge private equity group Blackstone to launch a joint offer for Tribune Media, which is the video half of the old Tribune group, which also included papers like the Los Angeles Times (it is now owned by a company called Tronc).

Fox and Blackstone are looking to top a rival offer from Sinclair Broadcasting, an owner of local US television networks. Fox and Blackstone plan to set up a joint venture to acquire Tribune. Blackstone will provide the cash, and Fox will contribute its own portfolio of stations. — Glenn Dyer

Ex-ABC exec unleashes on ABC. Former head of TV at the ABC Kim Dalton has called for greater accountability for the public broadcaster in an essay published this morning.

In the Platform Papers essay, called “Missing in Action: The ABC and Australia’s screen culture”, Dalton argues for a new charter for the ABC, as well as quotas for locally produced and children’s content. He said it has used government funding cuts to slash funding for local and children’s content without explaining where the funding it does get, goes.

He said the government did not monitor or have any requirements for the ABC on its Australian content or its engagement with independent producers: “The ABC ultimately is not called to account over publicly taking money from government on the promise of 50% Australian content on its children’s channel, only to privately decide that 25% is enough … there is little or no consistency or transparency around the reporting of any of this,” he wrote.

Dalton also referred to managing director Michelle Guthrie’s recent restructure, which involves a new “content fund”.

“The immediate point to be made is that for an organisation whose core business should be content to feel the need to have a special ‘content fund’ speaks of a fundamental disconnect. Beyond this, and without wanting to sound churlish, this initiative is symptomatic of the fundamental concerns I have raised,” he wrote.

Dalton concluded the essay with a call for all major parties to develop long-term policies on the ABC, an introduction of a governance framework, and a requirement for at least half the board to have experience and understanding of screen content creation.

Mirabella sues country paper. Former Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella has lodged a defamation suit against the Benalla Ensign, a small Victorian newspaper, over published allegations she pushed rival Cathy McGowan during last year’s election.

The Ensign published the story published in April under the headline “Awkward encounter”, and then issued an apology in October, which Mirabella reportedly said in the writ was insufficient because it came so long after the election, and did not receive the same attention as the original story.

Mirabella and McGowan were both competing for the seat of Indi and were at the opening of a new wing of a retirement home, where the Ensign alleged Mirabella pushed McGowan out of the way to obstruct a photo of McGowan with Ken Wyatt, who had also been invited to attend the event.

Begging-bowl. The latest online publication to ask for people to GIVE US THE MONEY is Arts and Letters Daily, the right-leaning curated site, run by the very right-leaning Chronicle of Higher Education. ALD was set up by the late Dennis Dutton, that rare thing, a right-ish English studies academic (and heir to part of the 3M fortune). Dutton was anti-theory, Anglophile, a climate change “sceptic”. ALD has a limited range of articles: theory is bunk, teh leftz is nogood, France is bad, Sartre is the worst, and here’s an interview with Clive James. How can this formula be losing money? Could it be that the conservative silent majority is not silent — they’re not a majority?

Quite possibly, the hits and the ad dollars might come in if the new editors took a more pluralist approach, so some of us would visit it more often. Pluralism? In the name of freedom? Nahhhhhhhhhhh — Guy Rundle

Mo’ sex, please, we’re British! Cultural differences are amazing, aren’t they? While we slog out a grim endless culture war on sex education and Safe Schools — when are our names going up on those village memorials? — the British do it differently. Witness this encounter on BBC Radio 4’s PM around a new British Museum exhibition around sexual imagery in the ancient world, aimed at school groups.  (Ms) Rowan Pelling, former editor of the Erotic Review, new editor of The Amorist, thinks it’s a good idea. Laura Perrins, editor of (looking for a cultural studies MA topic? Hoo-boy) thinks not. Highlights? “Most British schoolchildren can’t recognise Winston Churchill!” “I’d prefer they knew what a clitoris looks like, so the species will reproduce!” “Ancient Rome was terrible to animals!” Interviewer: “That’s true, isn’t it, Rowan?” Pelling: “Look I’m a churchgoing woman …”. More fun than Kevin Donnelly, but then so is a yeast infection at the beach. The fun starts at 23.46 in. — Guy Rundle

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. So how did the final of My Kitchen Rules rate last night? Winningly, but compared to 2016, poorly. In fact MKR shed 22% of its 2016 audience last night. But on the plus side, House Rules’ series return had an audience jump of more than 30%.

The winner’s announcement part of MKR averaged 2.15 million people nationally last night, a very big audience. But that was down sharply from the 2.75 million the same segment averaged for the 2016 winner’s announcement. The grand final (the lead up to the winner’s announcement) last night averaged 2.02 million nationally, down from 2.576 million in 2016. 

The audience for House Rules, though, jumped to an average of 1.53 million nationally (1 million in the metros and 530,000 in the regions). A year ago it averaged 1.16 million nationally with 718,000 in the metros and 450,000. In 2016 it was up against the final of Nine’s Married at First Sight, this year it was against The Voice. A much stronger return last night will encourage Seven. The Voice was solid with 1.68 million viewers (1.19 million in the metros and 489,000 in the regions). That was a pretty solid result given the competition.

In the regions the top programs were: MKR winner’s announcement with 669,000, then Seven News with 649,000, the MKR Grand Final was third with 630,000, then House Rules on 530,000 and The Voice was 5th with 489,000. In the morning insiders with 524,000 viewers nationally was well ahead of Weekend Sunrise (482,000) and Weekend Today (383,000).

Ten again faded and its main channel share was 6.5%. Not convincing and nothing there to build a platform on. That test starts tonight with the 2017 return of Masterchef Australia. Up against House Rules and The Voice and the usually solid Monday night news and current affairs line up on the ABC. Ten will beat the ABC, but its commercial rivals? — Read the rest on the Crikey website

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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