Mediaweek Morning Report: Lachlan Murdoch, AACTA, WIN, Hannah Gadsby + more

• Gadsby, Kath & Kim, I Am Mother and Carrie Bickmore

Business of Media

Lachlan Murdoch says tech giants should face more scrutiny

News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch has championed the growth of the company’s businesses in Australia, while arguing technology platforms should face increased scrutiny, reports News Corp’s European correspondent Stephen Drill, reporting from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Murdoch was speaking in Cannes at an event with Mark Read, chief executive officer of global advertising and public relations agency WPP, about the future of the media.

The 47-year-old said Fox Corporation would be a growth business, with the recently completed $A100 billion deal to sell US entertainment assets to Disney providing access to capital either to buy new businesses or to invest in existing assets.

Online subscriptions for news sites in the group were growing and the company was diversifying its revenue, he said.

“We are a very different company sitting here today than we were sitting here three or four years ago,” he said.

Murdoch said audiences of the mastheads were still strong and provided opportunities to leverage new businesses from them.

“You still have the trust of the mastheads, whether it’s The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Australian, The Sun. You have the trust and engagement that our readers have built over a lifetime with the added benefits of the digital age,” he said.

Murdoch added: “Investing in journalism, breaking stories and moving the news cycle ahead is important to us, journalism is at the core of all we do.”

Murdoch said there were threats to journalism from plagiarism.

He said that internet search platforms needed to be aware of online sites copying news stories and argued they should promote news articles from companies that invested in journalism.

“So many online news sites and purported online newspapers copy other people’s work and the search algorithms can, and really should, take that into consideration,” he said.

“Copying a story is much cheaper than investigating it.”

Photo: Ella Pellegrini/News Corp Australia

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TV producer loses AACTA board job after criticising Rush letter

The only board member of a peak film body who opposed sending an apology letter to actor Geoffrey Rush – slamming it as “grovelling” and “obsequious” – has lost her position, reports The Australian’s Rosemary Neill.

Anita Jacoby, a highly respected television producer, warned her fellow board members at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts – the ­nation’s top screen awards body – that the apology letter, sent in late 2017, was “a grave mistake”.

Jacoby, whose screen credits include The Gruen Transfer and Enough Rope, wrote to other board members: “I am perplexed as to why we would send such a grovelling apology at this time.”

The seven AACTA board members who signed the contentious letter in December 2017 – in which they begged Rush to return as their president just three weeks after asking him to stand aside – are still on the board. They include two-time Logie Award winner Noni Hazlehurst, broadcaster Margaret Pomeranz, agent Mark Morrissey and former NSW arts minister George Souris.

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News Brands

TV broadcaster WIN closes newsrooms in NSW and Queensland

Australia’s largest regional TV broadcaster WIN is closing four newsrooms across NSW and Queensland, citing digital competitors and the unviable commercial reality of funding regional news, reports The Australian’s Elias Visontay.

Journalists and camera operators were told on Wednesday that newsrooms producing local weekday news bulletins in Orange/Dubbo, Albury, Wagga Wagga in NSW and Wide Bay in Queensland would shut from June 28.

Between 30 to 40 staff will be affected by the closures, with some to be moved to jobs in other WIN offices.

In a correspondence to WIN employees on Wednesday, Andrew Lancaster, the broadcaster’s CEO, blamed digital competitors who don’t face the same broadcast regulations.

“Changing content consumption habits and increased competition from digital content providers, that don’t face the same regulatory conditions that challenge traditional media, has led to a reduction in demand for local news bulletins in these regions,” he said.

In a media statement, a WIN spokeswoman said the decision was “based on the commercial viability of funding news in these areas” and that WIN “remains committed to local news and content”.

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Five New York anchorwomen sue TV network for age discrimination

Five anchorwomen at a New York City news channel sued their company on Wednesday, saying they were marginalised and cast aside to make room for younger women and men, reports AP in an item published in The SMH.

The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court blamed Charter Communications and its 2016 takeover of the local news channel NY1, known as New York One, for altering the career trajectories of Roma Torre, Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee and Amanda Farinacci.

Maureen Huff, a Charter spokeswoman, said the company takes the allegations seriously but “as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them.”

In a release, the five anchors said that women on television “should accurately reflect women in society and be celebrated at every age, not treated like decoration that can be disposed and replaced with a newer version.”

The statement added: “We have poured our hearts and souls into our work at NY1, but in the end we have been left excluded, marginalised and vulnerable. We are fighting for ourselves and all other women who face this same struggle on a daily basis, and we hope to send a clear message to all news media across the country that this must change.”

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Hannah Gadsby one of 40 most powerful people in comedy

The Hollywood Reporter has named Hannah Gadsby as one of its 40 most powerful people in comedy.

The annual list doesn’t rank them from 1-40, but rather in alphabetical order.

The entertainment publisher writes about the Australian comedian:

Hannah Gadsby

It was one year ago – June 19, 2018 – that the Australian performer’s special Nanette premiered on Netflix and propelled her to worldwide acclaim. Ironically, the routine was framed as Gadsby’s farewell to a decade-plus career in comedy, as she tackles misogyny, homophobia (including the internalised variety) and mental illness in a 70-minute set that evolves from stand-up routine to TED Talk to confessional to fiery sermon to self-emancipation declaration. Amid sparking an international debate about anti-comedy, Gadsby, 41, continues to perform. In March, she embarked on a world tour for her follow-up routine, titled Douglas, which will air as a Netflix special in 2020.

Comedy sale: Kath & Kim coming to Netflix in July

All four seasons of Kath & Kim are coming to Netflix next month so it’s time to grab a glass of chardonnay and set up your deckchair in a comfortable spot, reports

And as an added bonus for fans, which will be as nice as a trip to Westfield Fountain Gate, compilation specials Kath & Kim: Kountdown Specials and Kath & Kim: The Souvenir Editions will also be available on Netflix.

Kath & Kim first premiered in 2002 and quickly went on to become a cult comedy hit and one of the ABC’s highest-rated shows.

All four seasons of Kath & Kim will be available to stream on Netflix from July 30.

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I Am Mother is an Aussie success story, though you’d never know it

I Am Mother (Netflix) is a low(ish)-budget Australian film from a first-time director, but you’d never know it, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.

It ticks all the boxes in terms of filmmaking on the cheap – a limited number of characters in an enclosed environment forced to overcome a threat from outside – and it does so with invention, elegance and economy. But it looks a million dollars. Well, many, many millions of dollars in fact. And it doesn’t look even slightly Australian.

The plot is simplicity itself. Humanity has been wiped out. The day after this mass extinction event, in a high-tech facility that’s part bunker, part womb, a robot takes a human embryo from storage and begins the slow, careful process of raising it.

Years pass, and eventually this human is a teenager (Danish actress Clara Rugaard, who voiced and sang the title role in the Danish version of Disney’s animated feature Moana, and was in fact closer to 20 at the time I Am Mother was shot in Adelaide’s film studio in late 2017). She has never been outside because Mother (the robot, voiced by Rose Byrne) has told her it’s not safe. The planet has been poisoned, the result of humanity’s war on itself. Go out there and Daughter will surely go the way of her ancestors.

It’s rich material, handled brilliantly by first-time feature director Grant Sputore, a West Australian, working from an intelligently wrought screenplay from American Michael Lloyd-Green.

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Carrie Bickmore erupts after being pranked by Tommy Little

Carrie Bickmore broke down in tears when she realised she was about to meet Elton John, reports’s Andrew Bucklow.

But less than five minutes later her tears were replaced with swear words when she realised she’d been pranked by her Hit Network radio co-host, Tommy Little.

The radio duo were in London recently and Tommy told Carrie he’d arranged “one last surprise” for her.

Carrie was blindfolded and told she had “five minutes” with a mystery present that was waiting for her inside a hotel room.

When she walked into the room, she took off the blindfold and was stunned to see Elton John sitting in a chair waiting for her.

“Oh my god! Sh*t!” she squealed, as she choked back tears.

But the man waiting to speak to her wasn’t the real Elton John, it was actually one of the world’s best Elton John impersonators. And Carrie had no idea.

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