Today in Media Files, firebrand blogger Shane Dowling has been jailed for breaching a suppression order, and was The Age‘s Matthew Guy scoop too good to share with its Fairfax stablemate The Sydney Morning Herald?

Blogger jailed for contempt. Maverick blogger Shane Dowling has been jailed for four months for publishing suppressed details in a court case against Seven boss Tim Worner. Dowling tweeted news of his prison sentence from the NSW Supreme Court this morning: “Looks like I’m getting a jail sentence #auspol”.

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Dowling breached suppression orders in a defamation case brought by two women named as having had affairs with Seven boss Tim Worner in court documents during the legal fight between Worner and his former lover Amber Harrison.

In sentencing Dowling, Justice Ian Harrison said Dowling had “flagrantly and intentionally disobeyed a solemn order of this court”:

“He seeks to portray the issue as one of free speech. He seeks to paint himself as a victim of a powerful media organisation that is determined to gag him. The fact of the matter is that Mr Dowling has done more than journalists do on a daily basis. His contempt arises not from the fact that he published the names of Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 in the first place, perhaps on his assessment as any journalist might have done, but from the fact that he disobeyed an order to take their names down from his online articles and even continued to republish the names in breach of the order that he not do so. It is therefore not the case that Mr Dowling faces the prospect of imprisonment for doing nothing more than reporting the news.” 

Too good to share? The Age in Melbourne, working with the ABC, has been out in front this week with a series of exclusive stories about Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s lobster dinner with an alleged mafia boss. So far, the story has claimed Liberal fundraiser Barrie Macmillan, who announced he would step down yesterday. And while that nugget was contained in another front-page exclusive in today’s Age, its sister paper The Sydney Morning Herald ran a much smaller story on the update. Curiously, it was attributed to wire service AAP, with Age political reporter Benjamin Preiss, rather than using the story with The Age‘s full investigative team’s bylines.

Fire and furry. The Kennebec Journal‘s take on President Donald Trump’s warning to North Korea seems a bit cuddlier than other media reports.

Front page of the day. The Advertiser in Adelaide is reporting today that the relationship between the South Australian government and the banks has deteriorated over the state’s decision to replicate the federal bank levy. Sensationally, the paper reports that South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis told a BankSA staff member that the bank’s CEO, Nick Reade, was a “cunt”.

House of the Mouse walks. Disney has announced it will pull its movies from Netflix from 2019 to start its own streaming services, staring with the ESPN sports network. ESPN is Disney’s most important revenue and profit centre, although its earning have been falling as subscribers abandon the service. Cable TV in the US has been losing subscribers across the board. Media analyst Craig Moffett said last Friday that pay TV losses fell 2.7% or 941,000, which was “the worst quarterly loss ever”.

The accelerating losses have set in a madness in the sector, as as worried companies look for dance partners to help them. Discovery has agreed to buy the Scripps network, which produces the Food Network shown on SBS in Australia.

Charter Communications, which owns Time Warner Cable and Bright House, has been in various merger talks over the last year or so, but all have come to nought. Now the highly indebted Altice cable company, controlled by Franco-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, is lining up a potential bid worth US$185 billion. Altice has taken on billion of dollars in debt in recent years in deals in France, Portugal and the US. Altice USA shares fell 5% overnight Wednesday, valuing the company at US$26 billion (it has more than US$22 billion in debt). Charter’s shares rose 2%, and it is valued at more than US$118 billion. Charter has net debt of US$62.5 billion, so the total value of the merger could be more than US$200 billion, including debt for both groups if it happens. That’s more than the most foolish deal of all, when AOL took over Time Warner for US$165 billion. That marked the peak of the tech net bubble in the early yesterdays of the noughties. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. The Bachelor — or, after last night, shall we call it a variant on Big Brother? Strangely to me (but then I am well out of demographic), it got 982,000 national viewers, a breakdown of 753,000/229,000 between metro and regional. Offspring — 826,000, 618,000/208,000. Again, it’s not holding on to enough viewers from The Bachelor. The audience fell more than 17% from The Bach to Nina — not crippling … but not great.

The Block gave Nine the win last night, with help from the News. Ten was third and the ABC fourth in both total people and the demos (which looked tasty for Ten with The Bach and Nina).

In regional markets Seven News was again tops with 598,000, followed by Seven News/Today Tonight with 497,000, then came Home and Away with 456,000, then The Block with 441,000, and fifth was the 5.30pm part of The Chase Australia with 419,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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