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Jul 19, 2017

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Today in Media Files, a freedom of information request shows the Communications Department hasn’t put any conditions on $30 million handed to Foxtel to broadcast women’s and niche sport, and an ad featuring Delta Goodrem has been ruled a bad influence.

No conditions on Foxtel sports cash. Foxtel and the Communications Department did not correspond at all about a $30 million budget handout to broadcast women’s and niche sport, according to a freedom of information request submitted by ABC Melbourne. The FOI requested correspondence between the department and the broadcaster about the budget measure, but it could not be fulfilled because the documents did not exist. The funds were allocated over four years from 2017-18 in the May federal budget to “support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television”. But without any correspondence, (such as a payment schedule, a list of possible sports, the business case from Foxtel, documentation from the department of KPIs to make sure the money is well spent), it just looks like a fat paycheck without any conditions for Foxtel (which is half-owned by Telstra and News Corp, who don’t need a free feed from Canberra, do they)?

Could it have been a way for the federal government to make sure Foxtel got something when the commercial TV and radio broadcasters were promised abolition of their licence fees in the media law changes that didn’t make it through Parliament? Foxtel doesn’t pay licence fees, but it moaned and groaned about missing out when the abolition of the fees was being discussed earlier this year. — with Glenn Dyer

Delta ad bad influence for road safety. The Advertising Standards Board has ruled an Apple Music ad featuring pop singer Delta Goodrem in a vintage car, dancing and singing in the passenger seat with her arms and head out the window breached the advertising code because she is not wearing a seatbelt. Apple said Goodrem and the driver were wearing lap belts, but the board found that because the belts aren’t visible, the implication to younger viewers might be that she was not wearing one at all.

Apple said it was disappointed with the decision, but it would edit the ads, Mumbrella reports.

The Sunday Telegraph reported earlier this month that Goodrem had lost her driving licence for speeding.

UK to ban gender stereotypes in ads. The UK’s advertising standards body will crack down on the use of gender stereotypes in ads, it has announced. The advertising code will be updated and enforced after a review found that harmful stereotypes “can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults”. The ASA said the changes wouldn’t ban ads depicting women cleaning or men doing DIY tasks, but said problematic ads would include family members making a mess while a woman had to clean it up alone, or a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks. The new standards will come into force in 2018.

The ASA regulates ads in the UK according to a broadcasting code, can ban ads, and has the power to refer ads to the communications regulator, Ofcom, for further action. It actively monitors ads for breaches of the code, as well as takes complaints.

Murdoch fights back at opposition to Sky bid. Opponents of the 21st Century Fox bid for the rest of Sky are pressuring the UK government to revisit the question of broadcast standards (to which UK regulators have given Fox a clean bill of health). And that has Rupert Murdoch mightily pissed, so much so that a letter complaining about that and certain politicians was released to UK media, not just his titles, The Sun and The Times.

Fox has had its London lawyers write a narky letter to UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley two days before she gives her decision on whether to refer the US$18 billion bid for a full competition inquiry. 21st Century Fox wants Bradley to refer the bid and not revisit the question of broadcasting standards. Fox said a reversal of the stance on broadcast standards would be “irrational”, and that that bowing to the pressure would “constitute the most blatant form of political interference”. 

Bradley said on June 29 that she was minded to refer the takeover to the Competition and Markets Authority thanks to concerns that the bid could hand Murdoch too much power in the UK media sector. But based on a report by the UK media watchdog Ofcom, Bradley has already indicated there are no grounds to block the deal based on Fox’s commitment to British broadcasting standards. She also dismissed fears that Fox and its senior executives were unfit to hold a UK licence.

But a group of anti-Murdoch MPs, led by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Vince Cable, wrote to Bradley to try to change her mind, arguing Ofcom had made a serious legal error.

The politicians claim the watchdog should have taken the recent sexual harassment scandal at Fox News in the US and historic phone hacking at Murdoch’s UK newspapers into account. But Fox’s letter rejects this, saying the MPs have presented no new or substantial evidence — the threshold Bradley set when inviting responses ahead of a final decision on a CMA referral.

“Clearly the Murdochs are rattled by rightful scrutiny their bid and their corporate record are receiving,” said Miliband. “The Secretary of State must not bow to the outrageous attempts to intimidate her by the Murdochs. She must give due and proper consideration to all representations on whether to refer the bid to the CMA on grounds of broadcasting standards as well as plurality.”

That has the Murdochs rattled. Fox last week made it clear it would not be offering any further concessions on the independence of Sky News (which is the root of these concerns about media plurality). From the comments in the latest letter, that looks like a deliberate decision to force a competition inquiry which the Murdochs expect will go their way. Fox has already offered to fund a Sky News service for five years, with a separate editorial board. The regulator Ofcom gave that a conditional tick but Ms Bradley didn’t, saying she wanted to see more. Ofcom said it would likely reject any move to spin off Sky News, arguing that could make it weaker over time. — Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine’s night thanks to Australian Ninja Warriors — 2.32 million national viewers — 1.57 million in the metros and 668,000 in the regions. Bread and circuses win again. MasterChef got 1.15 million nationally while Seven and the ABC were left behind. SBS did OK with Tour De France back (great win by Bling Matthews). In fact Seven was third in metro main channels after Nine and Ten. Seven has gone camping for ten days to return, presumably, when the Ninjas finishes. 

In regional markets Ninjas topped the night with 668,000. Seven News was second with 664,000, Seven News/TT was third with 554,000, then Home and Away with 490,000 and the 5.30pm part of The Chase Australia was 5th with 465,000.

Tonight its Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell. Will he get even with Barrie Cassidy and Insiders for stealing a Bill Shorten Zinger on Sunday? Nina has more heart searching/angst/you know what on Offspring, discovers that she’s really a Ninja Warrior in anther life on Nine. Chaos ensues. Will she settle down with Vulcan at last? — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Media briefs

Jan 11, 2017

5 comments

newideagoodrem

Delta Goodrem is having a baby. It’s there, in black and white (and yellow) on the cover of the latest New Idea. Inside the mag, the headline on page 12 reads “Delta Goodrem: I am going to be a mum.”

The story itself is no exclusive. It relied on a December 18 interview in News Corp’s Stellar insert, which itself made the front page of the Sunday Tele, in which Goodrem said, to quote New Idea, “I look forward to that time [when I can become a mum]”. The full quote in Stellar continues with “… but it’s not right now”.

In other words, a New Idea writer saw the quote mention the possibility of motherhood, picked it up, and then snipped out the bit that made it clear Goodrem wasn’t having a baby now. If a gossip rag doesn’t have a good front-page story, it can just make one up.

While News Corp entertainment writer Nick Bond quickly called out the sleight of hand on Twitter, that didn’t stop it being repeated on radio, with KIIS 101.1 not going to the original source for the Goodrem’s full quote.

Of course, it’s far from the first time baby rumours have been attached to the former Neighbours star-turned-pop diva. Like American actress Jennifer Aniston, about whom false pregnancy rumours have moved millions of copies of gossip rags over decades, Goodrem’s womb has proven to be utterly fascinating to Australia’s gossip rags.

In 2014, Goodrem told Woman’s Day she was looking forward to motherhood because she loved kids. The headline: “Delta’s baby shock”. That headline was used in New Idea late last year too (are babies always “shocking”?), after Goodrem posted an Instagram photo of her nephew. Last year, TV Week led an interview with Goodrem with similar positive sentiments on motherhood, even though the songstress’ comments were somewhat non-committal (“If it’s meant to be, then one day it will.”)

Your correspondent is reminded of a line papparazo Ben McDonald gave her late last year on celebrity news: “I’ve never seen a tabloid mag saying they’re a bastion of quality journalism. They’re almost fiction.”

New Idea’s circulation slipped 15.3% in the November audit, but the rag still sold an impressive 211,855 copies. Of course, that’ll be the last circulation figure we’ll ever get for New Idea — owner Pacific Magazines pulled out of the circulation audit just before Christmas. — Myriam Robin

Comments & corrections

May 21, 2012

5 comments

Leave The Voice alone:

Linda Wolverton writes: Re. “They’re The Voice, but understand it’s not just Nine cashing in”  (Friday, item 5). I cannot believe that this article was even published! Obviously Tom Cowie’s only concern is in regards to the money being earned and distributed; do we detect some jealousy there? Of course money is involved, after all television is in the business to entertain AND make money or it wouldn’t exist. Inaccurate reporting and unfair innuendos about the people involved detract from any article. Why not develop the idea of how the talent and value of such a show dominates and how the positive coaching — instead of harsh criticism — have created the real interest in this show?

This comment is more than derogatory; this is downright insulting!

“And then there’s the judges: Seal, Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem and Joel Madden. While they may not quite be the megastars Nine has made them out to be (only Goodrem has had a local No.1 hit this past decade), the quartet would be taking home a decent wage.”

What an insult to these world-renowned and extremely gifted artists who are the coaches on Channel Nine’s successful music show.

Is Cowie unable to do research, or is he just too lazy to do so?  Obviously, Cowie knows only a bit about Australian artists … and not much at that!  He hasn’t researched their commercial successes or awards at all, from the sound of this article!

Most Americans have never heard of Delta Goodrem, but alas, with a bit of research … I, personally, learnt quite a bit about her, too. She’s like Keith Urban, a child musical prodigy, who has had massive success in her home country of Australia, no less. Too bad that isn’t mentioned.

Here’s some “current” info about Urban’s recent successes in Australia … and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to check on the “facts” for the other artists, either.

What do these extremely talented and gifted artists have to do to gain the respect that they deserve … and in their “home country”? Personally, I would think that Cowie would do more to prove why they are the respected artists who were selected for this musical reality show… and why they have helped to create such a highly successful production.

After all, the first night’s ratings were a total product of the coaches’ ratings, as no one had heard the voices of those who were participating in the auditions yet.

Perhaps some research and fair reporting about why this show is such a success would benefit the readers more, rather than some guessing at the monetary benefits.

Media regulation:

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Ricketson to media: you’ve had your chance on self-regulation” (yesterday, item 1). Andrew Dodd quoted professor Matthew Ricketson saying News Corporation reacted “tribally to any suggestion of government interference in press freedom”. Ricketson continued:

“To take these positions and stick with them no matter what means closing your mind to the substantive issues of failure of media performance and lack of genuine accountability, which is what too many people in the industry have been doing for too long.”

What failure of media performance? News Corporation has succeeded brilliantly, on its own terms, in a work of corporate genius. It has acquired immense monopoly power in some of the wealthiest countries in the world. It can destroy, intimidate or blackmail almost anyone it cannot bring into line with promises of favourable coverage.

With the assistance of like-minded media owners it has poisoned and trivialised public discourse; put such fog and confusion into serious issues that the public has no idea what to believe; and brought representative democratic politics into unprecedented disrepute. It has helped vested interests undermine science, logic and rational thought as it might apply to policy to the point where any politics of substance is failing — the politicians cannot communicate such policies even if they have them, and the public does not believe them anyway.

Politicians are left like contestants in a third-rate reality show run by News Corporation and its accomplices. While the politicians are largely impotent and the general public is kept in the dark, the rich and powerful, including the Murdochs, are free to wage their class war against everyone else more or less unopposed; the rapidly increasing gulf between the very rich and everyone else, along with the reversal of social mobility, tells the story.

The “lack of genuine accountability” is another brilliant success. It has taken News Corporation decades to achieve, patiently chipping away at each commercial, regulatory or legal obstacle in the countries it has come to dominate.

So, my point is that “closing [its] mind” to these “substantive issues” is the last thing News Corporation would do. It is because it takes these issues extremely seriously that it must fight so hard, even against such relatively minor change as Finkelstein’s review recommends.

The ALP:

Luke Walladge writes: I’m sorry to tell Les Heimann (May 17, comments) that he’s missed the point. It’s all a great laugh banging on about “factions”, no doubt, but what does that actually mean?

Factions are, of course, nothing more than groups of … members. Members who associate together through a community of principle, belief and yes at times ambition. Twas ever thus in the affairs of human beings and ever will it be. And as for primary elections fixing this constant of human behaviour, as my article pointed out — it won’t.

What primaries will do is actually serve to entrench all those people Heimann doesn’t like, as well as disenfranchising the union movement, beggaring Labor, reducing the ALP to a brand as opposed to a party and actively emasculating the membership itself in a way no factional bogeyman could ever manage to do.

In any event the influence of “factions” and unions in the ALP is vastly overblown by those who have an agenda of their own; to increase their control over the direction of the ALP. This includes former and present leaders, those who would desire to lead the ALP themselves one day and a motley grouping of, wait for it, factional interests.

To again take the example of WA Labor, with a membership of about 3000 and 160 “member” delegates to state conference, a quota to get elected is a mere 19 votes per delegate. Given that a minimum 20 members is required to form a branch it is a simple matter to either start one’s own branch or gain 20 votes from an existing one, through intelligence, application and only a little bit of hard work. I might suggest to Heimann that if one can’t get 20 people to join one’s branch, or manage to convince 20 existing members to vote them in to a state conference, perhaps the fault lies somewhere other than in the system.

No process is perfect, the ALP included. The present system may not be ideal, but primary elections give everyone the worst of all possible worlds and as such should be rejected out of hand.

Unemployment:

Niall Clugston writes: Re.”Richardson: how to count the unemployed?” (Friday, item 10).  I’m not sure what Gary Morgan’s unemployment figures are really measuring. As opposed to the ABS, which requires the “unemployed” to have looked for work in the past month (which is necessarily to qualify for the dole, anyway), he wants to include people who have looked for work “no matter when” — that’s right, “no matter when”. Is this serious? The only wonder is why his figures aren’t even higher.

The second complaint with the ABS figures is the issue of underemployment.  However, there is no simple statistical way of differentiating the spectrum of people with less than full-time work, which includes those happy with their hours, those who would quite like to pick up more, and those who are desperate.

Finally, Morgan has an opinion poll (essentially a survey about a survey) that supports his figures against the ABS figures. So what? Most people usually believe bad news over good, and most people don’t understand statistics anyway.

Surely the best approach is to use the ABS figures because they are rigorous and consistent, while keeping in mind that they are based on a tight definition and only an estimate. No, they are not “compassionate”, but no statistic ever is.

Dr Kuruvilla George:

Andrew Reid writes: Re. “Anti-gay doctor falls on sword as religious links mount” (May 15, item 3). I’m a long-time Crikey reader and usually enjoy the robust and insightful articles you publish. However, I was really disappointed to read Andrew Crook’s article about Dr Kuruvilla George. I thought it was a hatchet job on Dr George, and replaced actual journalism with Google searching.

My specific complaints are:

  • It ascribed guilt by association. It investigated the activities of the other members of the Doctors for Family group, Danny Nalliah and Dr George’s wife, rather than focusing on the words and actions of Dr George himself.
  • It promoted a view that anyone with religious beliefs, or is opposed to same s-x-marriage, is unfit to be on the VEOHRC or be a state psychiatrist. That assertion is ridiculous.
  • It demeaned people with religious beliefs or who have a traditional view of same-s-x marriage, using sneering language like “impeccable God links”, “something called ‘Biblio-centred model of therapy'” and “halteth gays”.

I understand Crikey has a more robust approach to its articles than mainstream media outlets, and there is often a mix of news and opinion within its articles. However, it is not an individual blog where you can say what you like. It is a news and opinion site employing professional journalists to provide balanced coverage, whose assertions should be backed up with solid evidence and reasoning. In my opinion, this article failed on both those counts.

House fight:

Rory Robertson  writes: It’s nice that Adam Schwab (Friday, comments) is unconcerned that his fact — in this case, housing turnover per annum — was shown to be out by a factor greater than two.  And now he’s keen to correct me on the Canberra-to- Kosciuszko  bet on house prices I agreed with Steve Keen nearly four years ago.

In fact, the bet turned on whether or not the “peak to trough” fall from Steve’s chosen “peak” of 131.0 on the ABS house price index was less than 20% (Steve walks) or at least 40% (Rory walks). In the event, the index fell by 5.5% (chart) before zooming to new highs on the back of 4 percentage points worth of mortgage-rate cuts and a sharp turnaround in the economy.  Steve walked in 2010 and I’ve congratulated him in person on a job well done.  Also, I’ve said I will walk if average house prices ever fall by 40% from any future peak.

I’ve already dropped 10 kilograms in advance of any future challenge — how I did it is documented at www.australianparadox.com — but before I ever break into a sweat in training, let’s wait and see if prices ever fall back to Steve’s previously forecast “peak” (chart).

Finally, I’m not sure why Schwab thinks I have a particularly “bullish” house-price view. Yes, I own a house and I live in it. Beyond that, I just try to keep my eyes open. I note that auction-clearance rates in recent weeks in Sydney and Melbourne have come in closer to 60% than the low-to-mid 50s seen previously.

Apparently housing markets like rate cuts more than rate hikes.

Journalism

Apr 30, 2012

5 comments

Another weekend, another excellent Sunday Herald Sun article talking up pill peddlers Swisse Vitamins in their PR war to fend off the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Federal Court judge Richard Tracey is expected to rule this week on whether the Melbourne-based Swisse — which banked $8.9 million last year on revenue of $77.2 million — was in breach of advertising standards for claiming its capsules were “clinically proven”.

But as any first-year PR student would tell you, it pays to get on the front foot early. In the lead-up to the verdict, the company’s well-paid mouthpiece Mitch Catlin has been busy reaching into his tabloid Rolodex to farm out some cracking exclusives, including The Voice starlet Delta Goodrem’s dramatic move yesterday to endorse its “skin care” range.

Swisse — which sells something called “Superfood” for $30 a bottle — has appealed an initial TGA decision that its health benefits couldn’t be proven. A negative outcome could damage the brand that prides itself on its chirpy holisticism.

Such is Catlin’s reach into the desks of Southbank’s finest that even Confidential gossip Alice Coster had been rolling around in the largesse, jetting off to a London trade show earlier this month to file this Business section piece modestly headlined “Swisse eyes the world”.

A cursory media monitoring exercise reveals that since Catlin jumped from his previous tension-filled gig alongside Bernie Brookes at Myer a year ago, Fiona Byrne has stumped up 11 Swisse mentions, Luke Dennehy 17 and the fashion section’s Anna Byrne six. The sport section has mentioned Swisse at least eight times over past two years.

As Crikey reported last September, Catlin came of age as a Hez link man during the Spring Racing carnival, where he managed to shoehorn acres of pro-Swisse coverage across the little paper in a manner reminiscent of his previous job spruiking the Myer marquee.

He’s in control over on Facebook, where a group of netballers are participating in something called “ambassador auditions” and nary an AFL broadcast can be viewed these days without a sing-song “you’ll feel better on Swisse” tagline.

Other interventions have thrown up mixed results. Swisse took the high moral ground in March when it pulled its ads off The Circle following George Negus and Yumi Stynes’ comments about a soldier but stumbled last week when health experts lashed out at a proposal to offer free training for GPs if they sold its stellar “Swisse practitioner” range of supplements.

Last month, The Daily Telegraph wrote that some Swisse clinical trials had been carried out by father of the excitable 35-year-old CEO and co-owner Radek Sali. This feel good Sunday Hez feature in February mentioned the father-son connection but didn’t make anything of it — the more important point was that “the company had gone from the supermarket shelves to the social pages”.

(Sample copy: “Fit, smiling and brimming with confidence and dynamism, Mr Sali in just seven years with Swisse has delivered handsome profits to shareholders and earned his workforce’s admiration. Yet he is the kind of CEO many companies would fear employing because of his love of change … at Swisse, team leaders are taught to accentuate the positive, cultivating a workplace where staff are unafraid to ask questions or admit mistakes.”)

The company is majority owned by entrepreneur Michael Saba, whose proposal in 2008 to build a 12-bedroom, 16-bathroom monstrosity in Melbourne’s green wedge attracted serious local opprobrium. Now global domination looms.

“Money is nout [sic] our drive,” Saba explained when the Tele wrote about the father-son research link. “Its [sic] a means of achieving our key objective of improving quality of life for Australians and the world, and putting back into the community. We’ss [sic] continue to fo [sic] what we do best — making people healthier and happier through our clinically proven products. Ultimately, our consumers are the best judge — and the demand for Swisse keeps growing.

“Our consumers are further proof that you’ll feel better on Swisse.”

Other celebrities wrapped into the firm’s web include Ricky Ponting, Sonia Kruger and Tom Hafey.

UPDATE 2:02pm. Sunday Herald Sun ed extraordinaire Damon Johnston has been in touch to request a link to this March 11 story reporting on the TGA probe.  It’s “the most prominent publication of these damaging claims against Swisse to date,” Johnston says.

News

Sep 14, 2007

5 comments

Pop goes the culture: a Razer rap

Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of Nero, was just a jaded harridan looking to cause trouble. As I am. As such, I bid you join me in a Hot Tub of homogenised Ass Milk. AKA, the low week in the life of the popular culture, writes Helen Razer.

Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of Nero, insisted that her husband maintain a herd of Asses at all times. Like all terminally bored and s-xually famished Empresses, she deemed it necessary to bathe in their milk.

She said it kept her skin baby-soft. Personally, I think she was just a jaded harridan looking to cause trouble. As I am. As such, I bid you join me in a Hot Tub of homogenised Ass Milk.

AKA, the low week in the life of the popular culture.

If, like me, you have outsourced the management of your libido to Rupert Murdoch, you will currently suffer unclean thoughts re Delta Goodrem. Our bravest popstrel explains How I Got S-xy. This subtle and ingenious plan devised by either Satan or Sony may be viewed here. A visual roadmap that charts Delta’s route to S-xy begins with pictures of her as a five-year-old.

Nice.

Inscrutably, Channel Seven feasted on its own young. Bec Hewitt copped it from a putative current affairs show. Dunno why. Sad, as it seems the former foxtrotter had thrown small change in the direction of Asian orphans. Some might consider this a good thing. Not so the good men and women of Today Tonight.

News today reveals the demise of the bloke with the haircut from the first season of Big Brother. This tragic event possibly serves as a reminder that smack is an utter nonsense and must be shunned by all sane persons. Gordon Sloan’s passing is also just a bit eerily poignant. In death, he is known as the bloke with the haircut from the first season of Big Brother. I find this unspeakably sad.

If I were a little less like Poppaea, I might also find Britney unspeakably sad. Instead, she is deeply comic.

As if the finish of our own poison dwarf, John Howard, was not hilarious enough, Britney helped the rest of the world yuk it up big time following her performance at the MTV VMAs.

On a real and human level, it is sad to watch the undoing of a young glazed female doughnut. On another, it is pleasingly symbolic. This daughter of Bush is now as bloated and obsolete as the US currency.

Meaning has always ricocheted prettily off Britney. In fact, she rides the zeitgeist like a pony.

And now, she emerges as proof positive that, eventually, even the best antidepressant drugs don’t work.