Regulator to consider news quality in Nine-Fairfax deal. The competition regulator will look at Nine’s takeover of Fairfax “very carefully” before clearing the deal, its chairman says. Taking talkback calls on Perth’s 6PR (owned by Fairfax’s Macquarie Media) yesterday, Rod Sims said media diversity was an issue for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), but the ACCC would review competition in the market and how it affects consumers. “Ours is a competition view, and so competition in advertising, competition as it affects consumers, but one way it affects consumers is the quality and diversity of their media,” he said. “If you can tie that back to competition it’s ours.”

Nine and Fairfax announced last week they would “merge” into a new company, still called Nine, and headed by Nine’s chairman Peter Costello and Nine’s current CEO Hugh Marks. The deal would tie up all Fairfax’s mastheads, including The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Age, The Australian Financial Review, Nine’s free-to-air TV network, streaming service Stan, plus other assets of both companies.

New Matilda editor in Israeli jail. New Matilda editor Chris Graham has been detained by Israeli authorities while on board a civilian boat off the coast of Gaza, Palestine. According to a statement from Free Gaza Australia, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition boat was boarded on Sunday, and Graham was arrested with 22 other activists and crew on board the boat, which was headed to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade.

Last week, Graham filed from on board the boat, and anticipated his arrest:

As a journalist, the threats I face are markedly reduced to those faced by the activists. I’m likely to be targeted in the initial raid by the Israelis, which, based on past experience, will be hyper-aggressive and violent. But once the raid is over — once the Flotilla is under Israeli control — I’m likely to be treated far better than the activists on board. I face at most a few days in jail, before being deported — ironically for illegally entering Israel.

In a pre-prepared statement, he said the raid and arrests were illegal and hostile.

Good feud guide. US President Donald Trump and New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger have met, discussing fake news and the impact of Trump’s criticism of the media. The meeting, which was planned to be off the record, has been detailed after Trump tweeted about it over the weekend. In response, Sulzberger has given a detailed account of the meeting to his own paper — a frequent target of Trump:

I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people.’ I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence. I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.

Market reacts to CBS harassment allegations. CBS shares fell another 5% on Monday as the board grappled with the allegations of sexual harassment against CEO and chair Les Moonves. The board postponed the company’s annual meeting due to be held on August 10. Shares are down 11% since the allegations against Moonves broke on Friday via an announcement from the company ahead of a story published in The New Yorker. CBS controls the Ten Network in Australia. CBS is due to report its second quarter financial details on Thursday, but no mention was made if Moonves will be present at the usual post release briefing for analysts.

The postponement of the meeting is significant. All of the current board members are up for election at the meeting, except one member who is retiring. Richard Parsons, former CEO of Time Warner, is looking to be added. Some observers and analysts see a scenario in which National Amusements CEO, Shari Redstone forces out the board members who support Moonves and his attempt to distance CBS from its biggest shareholder, National Amusements. — Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day.

Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. House Rules ended for Seven last night, and the grand final and winner’s announcement couldn’t crack a million metro viewers — nor could the first part of Ten’s MasterChef final, or the ep of Australian Ninja Warrior on Nine. Did they cancel each other out? Perhaps, but it’s more viewer exhaustion with TV formats they know backwards. But it was worse than that for Seven in the metros: the House Rules winner’s announcement (915,000) was beaten by the first part of the MasterChef final with 960,000. You could say that House Rules ended with something of a belly flop in the metros. Read the rest on the Crikey website.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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