In Media Files today, Fairfax boss Greg Hywood has repeated his cry that the ABC is robbing commercial media of much-needed revenue, and the front page headline so good they used it thrice.

ABC robbing us of revenue: Hywood. Fairfax boss Greg Hywood has stepped up his calls for the government to stop the ABC “overstepping” its remit by paying for Google ads in his response to questions on notice to the Senate Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism:

“Fairfax believes the ABC oversteps the mark and deliberately or not undermines commercial companies ability to sustain quality journalism. There is clear evidence to sustain such a view. It is not — as the ABC contends — simply commercial media whingeing.”

Hywood said in his response that the ABC had an advantage because it did not need to make a commercial return on its investments, and was therefore robbing the commercial media of revenue.

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie last week told Senate estimates that it was not a zero-sum game, and the ABC was not taking any advertising revenue away from the the sector.

Hywood also used his submission to suggest tax incentives for personal subscriptions to print and online media for Australian-owned and operated outlets, and suggested Australian governments should direct the majority of their advertising and marketing spending to Australian-owned and operated outlets, rather than through Google.

Stop us if you’ve seen this one before. Some headlines are just too good to pass up — even if they’ve been done before. When Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge yesterday, the two New York tabloid papers, the New York Post and the New York Daily News both came up with the same headline: “DUI of the Tiger”. And the headline writers over at The West Australian brought what could be the headline of the year Down Under.

Investment advice for sale in the FinAs media bosses gather in Canberra today to lobby the government to speed up media law reforms, the Australian Financial Review is still offsetting dropping revenues with sponsored content. A 50-page glossy insert to the paper today called TechInvest is a quarterly advertising feature, with content provided by Professional Public Relations, as Crikey reported last year. The magazine promises itself as an “opportunity” for those in the technology sector to “showcase” themselves.

Huge if true. Helen Razer has the inside scoop on Jack Nicholson’s latest feature project in which the two-time best actor Oscar-winner plays Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz. Help our subeditors find a great, punny headline

Tennis player tries to kiss, grope reporter on-air. In an incredibly hard-to-watch interview, world No. 287 Maxime Hamou tried to kiss Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas, trying to interview him after his first-round loss in the French Open. Hamou has lost his accreditation for the French Open over the incident, and he could face further sanctions. Thomas told Huffington Post France she would have hit him, had she not been broadcasting live.

Important update: assaulted reporter gets new glasses. The US journalist who was allegedly body-slammed by a Republican candidate has replaced his glasses, which were broken in the incident. The Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs has settled on a black pair from Banana Republic, according to a surprisingly long article about the replacements in the paper. Jacobs has reportedly agreed to donate his broken glasses to the Newseum in Washington DC, a media museum. Greg Gianforte, who won the special election, was charged with a misdemeanor over the incident.

Blackrock bows out of Fairfax. A substantial shareholding notice this morning reveals that the world’s biggest money manager, New York-based Blackrock, has ceased to be a substantial shareholder in Fairfax Media. Blackrock has sold enough shares to fall under the 5% level, despite the sharp run up in the Fairfax share price as two US private equity sharks — TPG and Hellman and Friedman — start looking at Fairfax’s books and accounts for a possible firm offer worth more than $A2.5 billion.

It is a judgement that Blackrock, or one of its many offices around the world, does not believe a Fairfax bid will emerge that will be acceptable to the Fairfax board — a judgement that is contrary to the accepted wisdom in the market.

In making the announcement to the ASX, Blackrock ended 27 days as a substantial shareholder in Fairfax, having revealed earlier this month that its holding had reached 115.462 million shares. But a week ago today, Blackrock Australia started selling heavily — more than 6.8 million shares were sold over what was left of May 24 (out of 21.1 million shares traded that day). Blackrock offices in Japan and the US made small-scale sales the next day, then on Friday the Australian office tipped out more than 4.2 million Fairfax shares out of a total of 28 million traded that day. Fairfax shares rose a cent to $1.26 despite the selling — there was obviously a group of buyers in the market soaking up as many shares as possible.

All up the Australian office of Blackrock sold more than 10.6 million Fairfax shares in three days — pointing to profit taking. Many of those shares were bought for less than a dollar each, so the Australian arm of Blackrock has made a pretty good “turn” on what was a short-term trading play. They have made 30% or more in a matter of four or five months — annualised that is well over a 80% return. Put it this way: they could have spent $9 million at most buying the 10.6 million shares, and sold them for more than $12.4 million.

They clearly saw the profit as too good not to grab as the Fairfax shares rose past $1.20 as Hellman and Friedman appeared out of nowhere to become a rival for TPG, whose offerings were not getting any traction with the Fairfax board. Clearly the local arm of Blackrock either believes the Fairfax bid won’t happen, and took their profits, or that it would be too long to wait for a bid to emerge, and that if it was rejected by the board, the fat profits would be lost as Fairfax’s share price headed back under $1. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. House Rules ruled again last night with 1.85 million national viewers. Nine was weak without The Voice and Love Child (717,000 nationally and just 473,000 in the metros) seems like it’s heading for a long, long break. Masterchef  Australia (1.19 million) perked up but the continuing publicity and social media sniff about one particular judge may harm the show. Seven’s Seven Year Switch managed 998,000 national viewers to mop up the post House Rules time slot. Nine’s Last Resort is nowhere to be seen.

In regional markets another strong night for Seven: Seven News was tops with 726,000, House Rules was next with 705,000, Seven News/Today Tonight was third with 576,000, with Home and Away fourth with 546,000 and the 5.30pm part of The Chase Australia was fifth with 489,000. All up, Seven won the night in metro and regional markets in total people, the main channels and the main demos.

Tonight it’s the first State of Origin game on Nine which will rate its socks off in Sydney and Brisbane and in regional areas of NSW and Queensland — and do well in Melbourne. Seven leads the week in total people and the main channels — Nine will get that back tonight with the Origin game, but it will be battling to hang on given there are AFL games on Seven tomorrow night, Friday night and on Saturday that will dominate in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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