News Corp drops out of newspaper audits. News Corp has withdrawn its newspapers from measuring by the Audited Media Association of Australia, in favour of the EMMA metric set up by the newspaper groups in 2013. The latter measures readership including digital readers, whereas the former directly measures the number of newspaper printed and sold. In a story/press release in today’s The Australian, executive chairman Michael Miller said advertisers were more interested a total audience number across all platforms, rather than the number of newspapers sold. Fairfax is understood to be considering its position.

Govt seeks new gag laws. The Australian government’s proposed new secrecy laws could result in up to 20 years jail for journalists and whistleblowers. The reforms, introduced to parliament on Thursday, include changes to secrecy laws that BuzzFeed’s Paul Farrell reports go further than had been expected:

Unexpectedly, the reforms include sweeping changes to longstanding secrecy laws, which are modelled on Britain’s Official Secrets Act. The regime raises fresh concerns for prospective whistleblowers, journalists and also mass leak publication sites such as Wikileaks. A series of ‘aggravating’ offences will also hamper large scale leaks like those from former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Wilkinson’s new job. Lisa Wilkinson will take charge of Ten’s new website as part of her defection to the network from hosting Nine’s Today program earlier this year. Wilkinson was announced as a new host of The Project immediately after she confirmed in October pay negotiations with Nine had broken down, and she was leaving the network. Ten has announced today that Wilkinson will also be executive editor of ten daily from January, leading the editorial direction of the site. Wilkinson had been editor-at-large for HuffPost Australia, which all but shut down its local branch last month when it ended its joint venture with Fairfax.

Breakfast TV shuffle. Lisa Wilkinson’s departure from Nine is still shaking up the look of breakfast TV. With weekend news presenter Georgie Gardner replacing Wilkinson on Today, The Australian reports that Weekend Today host Deb Knight will be moving to the evening bulletins. 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon will move to the weekend morning slot to replace Knight.

Over on competitor Seven, Weekend Sunrise host Andrew O’Keefe has also announced he’ll be stepping down after 12 years as host. His replacement is yet to be announced.

A Devine show. News Corp commentator Miranda Devine will launch a new online radio program hosted by The Daily Telegraph, on which she will host guests and interview journalists from the newsroom. The show will run three days a week.

James Murdoch strikes out from family business. A feature in the weekend edition of the Financial Times makes it very clear the author thinks James Murdoch is about to leave the family fold.

“Now, 21 years after he first joined a Murdoch company, James has decided to strike out on his own, according to people who know him. An informal auction is under way for some of Fox’s most prized assets, including its Hollywood movie studio, cable television channels and stake in Sky. Walt Disney is in pole position to win the auction and a senior role at the mouse house has been mooted for James. Whether he joins Disney or starts his own venture (he is likely to pocket a small fortune from the sale, valued at as much as $60bn including debt), the Murdoch family is parting professional ways … One person who knows the Murdochs well described the looming separation as ‘amiable’; another said James’s eagerness to depart reflected growing differences between father and son — including their increasingly diverging political views.”

There was no mention by the FT of James Murdoch’s future involvement in the Murdoch Family Trust, which controls both 21st Fox and News Corp. But the tantalising suggestion of James pocketing a small fortune can only happen by selling his interest in the trust to other family members in exchange for cash or shares. Presumably any deal would also have to cover the value of his share of the Trust’s 38% stake in News Corp (Rupert Murdoch controls 1% in his own right).

Reports at the weekend indicate that both Fox and Disney have now assembled banks for advisory and due diligence roles. Disney is said to be working with a group of banks that includes is long time advisers, JP Morgan and Guggenheim Partners, while Fox has Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners crunching its numbers. Centerview is said to be focused on the financial details related to the Fox assets that would not be part of the Disney acquisition (Fox News Channel, Fox TV, the local TV stations, Fox business channel). Appointing bankers and advisers means the Murdochs and Disney are now into very serious negotiations. Such a public canvassing of his future is also a sign that James Murdoch’s time at the family companies is now finite. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. Deep summer started last night. Viewers tuned in for the final Inspector Gently on the ABC, which averaged 1.03 million people and was the most watched non-news program last night. It is always a sad occasion when a top notch fave like Gently fades to black. Next Sunday its replaced by repeats of Midsomer Murders. The women’s Big Bash did well on Ten yesterday afternoon with 422,000 nationally for session 2 and 336,000 nationally for session 1 of Game 4. Those figures should make everyone happy. Ten desperately needs the night sessions and games, judging by the way its line up last night scored a 7.5% share for its metro main channel, just ahead of SBS’s main channel share of 7.2%. Seven won the night, but no one is boasting.

Insiders stood out with another half million plus national audience, including a high 198,000 on ABC News (nee News 24). Intelligent political chat drags in the viewers, again. It wraps up next Sunday after the Bennelong by-election. In regional markets Seven News was tops with 435,000, then, Sunday Night-Summer with 375,000, followed by Inspector Gently with 343,000, with the 7pm ABC News fourth with 342,000 and fifth was Nine/NBN News 6.30 with 296,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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