The Bannon debate continues, the hunt is on for the White House insider, Adele Ferguson announces a book, plus other media tidbits from the day.

Bannon confirmed for The Economist fest. As Australians continue to debate the merits and otherwise of the ABC’s Four Corners giving its full program to Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon this week, The Economist has doubled down on its invitation for the former Breitbart executive to speak at its Open Future Festival later this month. While The New Yorker rescinded its invitation to Bannon after a backlash from writers and readers, The Economist has confirmed its lineup stands.

Editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes said in a memo that Bannon’s world view was antithetical to those of the publication, but he was invited because of his role in Trump’s ascension to the presidency and because he continues to advise populist far-right parties in Europe:

The future of open societies will not be secured by like-minded people speaking to each other in an echo chamber, but by subjecting ideas and individuals from all sides to rigorous questioning and debate. This will expose bigotry and prejudice, just as it will reaffirm and refresh liberalism. That is the premise The Economist was founded on.

“There are adults in the room”. Elsewhere in the US media, The New York Times has prompted even more White House buzz by publishing an anonymous opinion piece written by a “senior official” in the Trump administration.

It describes a chaotic White House while describing some of the efforts by staff to “resist” the president. The anonymous piece is extraordinarily unusual for The Times, and was published with a statement explaining the decision and inviting questions about the vetting process:

We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.

CNN spoke to op-ed page editor Jim Dao about the decision, who said the piece was arranged through an intermediary over the past few days. Dao said the piece had been edited to disguise the person’s writing style, as well as other precautions to protect their identity which he would not go into.

Banking Bad. Fairfax’s Adele Ferguson has signed a book deal that will draw on her four years’ reporting on scandal and corruption in the corporate sector. Ferguson, who has won eight Walkley awards, will write about the lead-up to the banking royal commission, which her reporting pushed for.

Foreign media owner rules tighten. It was one of the footnotes to the media law changes this year that have allowed Fairfax and Nine Entertainment to merge: we’ll now know more about the level of foreign control of our media. Foreigners holding 2.5% or more of an Australian media company will be forced to register that interest with broadcast regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) from September 1 (last weekend).

ACMA yesterday issued a first reminder for all those foreign groups, individuals and the like that they have until February 28 next year to declare their holdings. The new rules not only apply to foreign companies and individuals, but also executors, administrators and liquidators. Any changes have to be notified within 30 days of that change taking place.

This requirement is considerably tougher than the standard 5% disclosure requirement for companies listed on the ASX. It will mean that by early next March we should have a better idea of which foreign group owns stakes in Australian media companies. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. This week a notable event happened in Melbourne: the Nine Network panicked and moved its ailing AFL Footy Show not to Wednesday night (as it has previously done when there is an AFL game scheduled on Seven for Thursday night), but to Tuesday night. This moves it away from the now usual head-to-head clash with Seven’s The Front Bar.

It was an admission that the AFL Footy Show is dying on its knees and the ratings reflected that — just 249,000 viewers (in Melbourne 134,000) nationally. That meant that The Front Bar had the night to itself and gathered 504,000 viewers nationally, including 285,000 in Melbourne which made it the third most watched program in the market and nationally.

Last night, Nine’s night as The Block (1.36 million) easily dominated viewing with the only challengers The Bachelor on Ten with 1.06 million and Anh’s Brush With Fame on the ABC with 1.03 million. In regional areas, Seven’s 6pm News had 555,000 viewers, Seven News/Today Tonight 514,000, The Chase Australia from 5.30pm had 387,000, The Block 385,000 and A Current Affair 369,000. Read the rest on the Crikey website. 

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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