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Crikey Worm

Sep 14, 2017

Crikey Worm: media reform deal struck, Rebel wins big

Good morning, early birds. The government is set to get its media reform package through (with some amendments), former ABCC boss Nigel Hadgkiss steps down after a s

Good morning, early birds. The government is set to get its media reform package through (with some amendments), former ABCC boss Nigel Hadgkiss steps down after a small matter of breaking the law, and Rebel Wilson scores millions in a defamation payout. It’s the news you need to know, by Max Chalmers.

MEDIA REFORM TO PASS

The government has secured the backing of Nick Xenophon‘s Senate bloc for the most radical overhaul of Australia’s media regulation since the 1980s. As expected, the government has agreed to put $60 million towards small and regional publishers and innovation funding in return for Xenophon’s support for its legislation scrapping the two-out-of-three rule as well as the 75% reach rule. It has also agreed to ask the ACCC to open an inquiry looking at the loss of advertising revenue caused by the massive expansion of Google and Facebook.

The money will be distributed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and can only be accessed by companies based in Australia.

As the deal was confirmed last night, Labor senators voiced furious criticisms of Xenophon, with Sam Dastyari accusing him of doing a “dirty deal”. Dastyari noted the funds would not flow to a number of progressive-leaning news outlets.

“It doesn’t go to The Guardian. It doesn’t go to BuzzFeed,” he said. “We are selling out journalism for 60 scholarships?”

That said, it’s not clear how major much domestic outlets like News Corp and Fairfax will gain from the fund, given they are expected to be too large to draw money from it. It’s the new round of mergers and acquisitions that are likely to be most important to them and other players in Australia’s already concentrated media landscape.

GOODBYE, HADGKISS

Faith in the media may be at an all-time low, but it seems nobody told (former) ABCC boss Nigel Hadgkiss. The man charged with leading the Coalition’s building regulation body was yesterday forced to step down after it emerged he had told the commission not to publish changes to right of entry laws. Why? Hadgkiss said he had not read the new rules, introduced by Labor, but got the “gist” of them by reading media reports and assumed they would be repealed.

According to The Australian, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash passed word to Hadgkiss that it was time to move on. The problem for Cash might not end there, however, with the minister admitting she knew about the conduct back in October 2016.

The news comes as the CFMEU is slapped with a record fine, ordered to pay $2.4 million by the Federal Court for an illegal blockade.

THE PRICE OF DEFAME

Actress Rebel Wilson has been awarded a record $4.56 million payout after she was ruled to have been defamed by Woman’s Day. The Victorian Supreme Court agreed that a series of articles in the magazine had depicted Wilson as a serial liar and awarded the massive figure after calculating the value of the deals Wilson likely missed out on as a result of the coverage.

The result could deal a “fatal blow” to celebrity gossip mags, according to The Age‘s Karl Quinn.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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Claims Australia won’t meet Paris climate commitment if it keeps coal in the Clean Energy Target

Marriage equality opponents have spent five times more on TV ads, analyst says

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: RBA deputy governor Guy Debelle will speak at King & Wood Mallesons business workshop.

Sydney: Australian Bureau of Statistics will release August labour force data.

Canberra: Commission of inquiry documents on former Labor politician and High Court justice Lionel Murphy to be tabled in Parliament

Canberra: Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to give evidence at House hearing into electricity grid

THE COMMENTARIAT

Liberty’s a balancing act, so be careful what you outlaw — Niki Savva (The Australian $): “Dean Smith’s private member’s bill also clearly states ministers, churches or celebrants cannot be forced to officiate at same-sex ­unions and religious entities ­cannot be compelled to provide services. There may need to be some tweaking, assuming Australians vote yes, but how much remains to be determined.”

Power problem: Trust neither the electricity generators nor the Prime Minister — Peter Martin (Sydney Morning Herald): “The industry has been claiming that it’s competitive. Dungey says while its behaviour hasn’t been illegal, it’s been able to get away with a lot.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Rundle: venceremos, comrade! Turnbull goes to war against capitalism. — Guy Rundle: “What’s both significant and symbolic is that the attempt to keep Liddell going, or to falsely assign it a value of more than $0, is that Turnbull’s government has gone to war against every single principle of capitalism, the free-market, etc, etc. The whole idea of the state as guaranteeing a stable investment environment appears to have gone out the window long ago.”

‘Rule of law’ an optional extra for ABCC chief Nigel Hadgkiss — Bernard Keane: “Turns out, though, the rule of law isn’t quite so important if you’re not the CFMEU, but instead the body that Cash laboured so hard to re-establish to enforce the rule of law in construction — the Australian Building and Construction Commission.”

Should you care about media reform? — Emily Watkins: “Once the media moguls have won their fight for these reforms to go through, O’Donnell thinks they’ll be emboldened for the next big regulatory push: local content rules.”

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