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Bingeing on free labour Foxtel is banking on a bit of unpaid labour to bump Binge, its latest attempt to crack the streaming market.

The company is running a competition to find “Australia’s best entertainment reviewers” who will join its Binge Club. The 10 lucky winners will get to opine on their favourite TV shows, and have their reviews published. In return they’ll get… a free Binge subscription valued at $168 a year. The fine print also says Binge isn’t obliged to publish any work or reviews.

Last month, News Corp, which owns Binge, announced plans to cut 500 jobs, including 150 journalists in Australia. Lucky they’ve got the Binge Club, to fill the gaps created by all those reporters.

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In a statement provided to entertainment site Gizmodo, a Binge spokesperson said the unpaid articles were analogous to reader comments or letters to the editors.

Former Liberal hacks buy newspaper Months after News Corp announced the closure of Tasmanian Country, the regional paper has been given a lifeline, thanks to Font PR, one of the state’s most powerful public relations firms with deep links to the Liberal Party.

Font partner Brad Stansfield did the media rounds yesterday to announce the sale. Stansfield is a former chief of staff to ex-premier Will Hodgman. Brad Nowland, another partner, is also a former Liberal staffer.

According to The Mercury, Font managing director Becher Townshend is Tasmania’s third top political player.

Font owns five other Tasmanian publications, including The Derwent Valley Gazette and Tasmanian Business Reporter. And while Stansfield stressed the paper would remain independent, Crikey reported last year that Font employs staff who directly write content for their newspapers.

Grift Watch The Australian media continues to have the dubious honour of providing the last platform for reactionary grifters. The latest is DeAnna Lorraine, a conservative YouTuber and failed Republican congressional candidate (she never stood a chance against Nancy Pelosi) who called Melbourne’s latest lockdown “total enslavement”. If only Melburnians had the real freedom of 65,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.

Lorraine’s outburst earned her a spot on The Today Show (where else!) where the video just happened to cut out mid-feed. Lorraine then claimed her free speech had been silenced. Luckily, free-speech warrior Rowan Dean was on hand to invite Lorraine onto Sky News’ Outsiders.

And so Lorraine, utterly irrelevant in the United States outside of the fringes of an unhinged reactionary ecosystem, follows in the footsteps of Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon and Katie Hopkins, grifting her way onto Australian TV.

News Corp’s China contradictions News Corp papers have, unsurprisingly, been some of the loudest China hawks in Australia. Who could forget Sharri Markson’s breathless “expose” of the Wuhan Lab Theory which got her the red carpet treatment from Tucker Carlson, despite being debunked by the ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald?

But at a business level, the relationships with Beijing-based companies continue. News Corp-owned Dow Jones recently announced a partnership agreement with China Finance Online (CFO), a web-based financial services company providing information for Chinese retail investors. CFO’s subsidiaries are pioneers in data mining, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

But despite such business ties, there’s a lot of tension between Dow Jones and Beijing. In February, China booted three Wall Street Journal reporters out of the country. And following a new national security law which will erode press freedom in Hong Kong, the Journal could follow The New York Times and shift reporters elsewhere.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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