THE FOX AND THE MOUSE

Australian born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has agreed to sell some of his most significant assets, shrinking his empire and refocusing attention on its news business.

The $66 billion deal will have Disney takeover 21st Century Fox assets including film and television studios, cable entertainment networks, and international TV businesses, according to Reuters. Disney is attempting to compete with digital content providers like Amazon and Netflix, and the deal will allow the company to gain access to franchises like Avatar and The Simpsons.

Fox’s news channels will be separated into a new company called New Fox, which will include Fox News.

“We haven’t thought about combining [New Fox] with News Corp,” Murdoch said. “If we do, it is way ahead in the future.”

A number of anti-trust lawyers told Reuters they expected the deal would be approved by US regulators.

WORKERS PAY THE PENALTY

The Australian economy continues to enjoy solid jobs growth, with 62,000 jobs added in November. The positive news hasn’t converted into a strong Christmas retail season ($), however, with wage stagnation and household debt preventing shoppers from lavishing over the holidays.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pointed to the result as evidence that business confidence is growing and that the government had helped inspire more investment and hiring.

But a research paper reported exclusively by Fairfax this morning shows that not all of the government’s policies are helping boost employment. A survey of workers by academics at the University of Wollongong and Macquarie University found no evidence that cuts to weekend penalty rates handed down by the Fair Work Commission — and supported by the government — have resulted in staff working more hours.

UNIS ANGERED

Universities are reportedly alarmed ($) that the government’s new anti-foreign interference laws could cause problems for academics. There are concerns staff could be forced to register as foreign agents if they receive foreign grants, scholarships, funding, or philanthropy.

Meanwhile, former senior defence official Peter Jennings has warned it is likely universities are breaking codes designed to stop the sharing of technology that has potential military uses.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

John Alexander has not declared rental income from his $1400 per day country estate

Commonwealth Bank hit with fresh terrorism financing allegations by AUSTRAC

Religious freedom review appointee has argued for limited sharia law in Australia

WHAT’S ON TODAY 

Sydney: Last day of campaigning for the Bennelong byelection.

Canberra: The final report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will be handed to the Governor-General and released.

Melbourne: Directions hearing to set trial date for former Health Services Union head Kathy Jackson, who pleaded not guilty to 166 charges of fraud and theft.

THE COMMENTARIAT

The jobs boom is real, and for once, government can take the credit — Peter Martin (Sydney Morning Herald): “What we are seeing is in large measure a government-related jobs boom. Turnbull and his Treasurer Scott Morrison owe Hockey a lot.”

A late dose of sheer desperation in Bennelong — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “If Bennelong changes hands, it will completely change the dynamics of both sides of politics, and the trajectory of 2018, which is why there has been so much desperation in the language of both sides of politics in the last few days.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Would you buy a used media policy from Mitchell Peter Fifield? — Tony Walker: “Among Fifield’s various behind-the-scenes functions has been that of senior adviser to then Treasurer Peter Costello now chair of Nine Entertainment. In that role and given competitive pressures on struggling free-to-air networks, Costello would have more than a passing interest in the wash-up of the media reforms.”

The only thing dumber than most ABC-bashing is the ABC itself — Helen Razer: “In 2017, writers are unable to see their own servitude to great power, let alone describe those problems at the ABC. We must, somehow, resume this work of truly describing moments of descent. Otherwise, we’re just dumbing down.”

Three ways to cut company tax while improving welfare — Miranda Stewart & David Ingles: “The company tax, as it has existed through the 20th century, is becoming increasingly unsuited to a global economy.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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