Today in Media Files, TV network Al Jazeera has been caught up in a Middle Eastern dispute, the Australian Financial Review‘s Joe Aston claims a scalp, and The Australian‘s media columnist gets his sums wrong. 

Gulf states demand Al Jazeera be shut down. The Al Jazeera network is at the centre of a Middle Eastern dispute between Qatar and an alliance of Gulf states, which are demanding the network be shut down. The Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, issued 13 demands on Friday to end a crisis that started with accusations that Qatar helps fund terrorism. The demands included shutting down the network and other Qatari-funded media outlets, closing  a Turkish military base and severing any ties with groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah.

Al Jazeera English acting managing director Giles Trendle told the network he was stunned by the demand:

“Of course there has been talk about it in the past but it is still a great shock and surprise to actually see it in writing. It’s as absurd as it would be for Germany to demand Britain close the BBC … (During the Arab Spring), Al Jazeera was covering the dreams and the aspirations of a new generation of people. We provided the platform for the voice of the man and the woman in the Arab streets. We were covering those protests and we were providing a diversity of viewpoints. We were really the voice of the voiceless. I think there are some regimes in the region that don’t appreciate that diversity of views. I think that’s the reason for what’s going on here.”

Victory for Aston. The Australian Financial Review‘s Rear Window columnist Joe Aston has finally succeeded in his quest to have CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley deposed. Malley was sacked on Friday night, with chair Jim Dickson saying the organisation needed to move on.

The campaign against Malley has been largely led by The Australian Financial Review, and, in particular, Aston. The Fin has been calling for an independent review of CPA’s governance, and forced the organisation to reveal Malley’s pay.

Only in the NT. It’s not just the NT News with a sense of humour in the Top End. Last night’s ABC News bulletin finished up the program with a story about the Mandorah Ukelele and Folk Festival, or MUFF, leading to this cheeky headline on the plasma:

ABC Adelaide brekky host quits. Breakfast radio in Adelaide will be shaken up at the end of the week when half of the popular ABC breakfast duo Matt and Dave, Matthew Abraham, steps back from the microphone. Abraham, who has presented the breakfast show with David Bevan for more than 15 years, announced he would be leaving the program on Friday. The ABC reports that Abraham will spend a year sleeping, writing and fishing. Bevan will continue to present the program solo.

The Oz‘s Ten-bashing. An attempt by News Corp’s The Australian to smear David Gordon, the chair of Ten Network (in administration), has blown up because the Oz’s media editor Darren Davidson got his figures wrong. In a story on the front page of today’s media section about Gordon selling his shares (the story has now been taken off the website), Davidson wrote:

“Ten Network chairman David Gordon sold almost all his shares in the network before the company was placed into voluntary administration, and had no backup plan should the advertising market fail to recover … Mr Gordon, appointed chairman of Ten in July 2015, offloaded 88 per cent of his shareholding in Australia’s third-placed commercial network a year after taking the helm, raising questions about his confidence in the company’s ­future ahead of administrator KordaMentha’s appointment by the board.”

Davidson’s report says Gordon had 247,5000 shares in 2015, and 29,433 in 2016.

“The greatly reduced stake will open up fresh questions about whether Mr Gordon’s interest was aligned with that of the shareholders, and loan guarantors including News Corp (publisher of The Australian) co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and WIN ­Corporation owner Bruce Gordon, who between them had an ­almost $1 billion exposure to the company.”

That is a load of rubbish. Davidson failed to take into account the 10-for-one share consolidation on Ten shares in late 2015 and early 2016 — according to a filing with the ASX on November 26, 2015, Gordon had 247,500, boosted by the purchase of 46,825 Ten shares three days earlier.

The share consolidation then occurred and the new Ten shares started trading on January 25, 2016. On January 14, 2o16 Ten issued a statement on the consolidation. Ten’s 2015-16 annual report for the period to August 31 2016 reveals that Gordon’s stake at the start of the year was 24,750, and another 4683 shares were added to that stake, making a total at year end of 29,433. Gordon did not sell any shares, contrary to the Oz‘s story. Ten did not respond to Crikey’s request for comment. — Glenn Dyer

CNN calls in sketch artist for press briefings. CNN has responded to the White House decision to ban video recording and live audio recording of some press briefings by sending its court sketch artist to document proceedings. Bill Hennessy usually records Supreme Court hearings for the network, but was brought in for Friday’s briefing. A gallery of the images is here, and the CNN Money website has worked them into a video here (and to be honest, Sean Spicer does not look any fatter to us):


Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine won the main channels because The Voice ran for two hours until 9pm whereas House Rules ended at 8.30pm. But House Rules had 1.85 million national viewers (1.11 million in the metros and 736,000 in the regions) whereas The Voice had 1.34 million national viewers (947,000 in the metros and 397,000 in the regions). Seven’s Sunday Night ran from 8.30 to 9.30pm and won with 1.28 million while 60 Minutes started at 9pm and managed 1.07 million. That extra half hour of The Voice was enough to nudge Nine in front in the main channels — as well as a solid hour in the metros for Nine News (Seven News won nationally by a mile).

Ten’s Masterchef was squeezed once again and ended the night with 950,000 national viewers — well behind the top two.

In regional markets House Rules was tops with 736,000, followed by Seven News on 710,000, then Sunday Night with 528,000, Nine News was fourth with 461,000 and The Voice was fifth with 397,000. Seven’s night. In the mornings it was the ABC’s Insiders with 528,000 easily ahead of Seven’s Weekend Sunrise on 499,000 and Weekend Today stuck on 367,000 . Insiders featured another classic from Huw Parkinson — this time it was Theresa May and her gang that was the target. Tonight watch Four Corners and a report on the give and take (mainly take) of aged care. — Read the rest on the Crikey website