Mediaweek Roundup: AAP, SBS racism claims, Nine, Facebook + more

• Community TV, Amelia Brace, Luke Hodge, Times Radio and Chris Lilley

Business of Media

AAP newswire ‘begins its next chapter’ as sale finalised

The future of the AAP newswire is assured with the inking of a sale to new owners who say they are driven by a desire to retain Australian media diversity, reports the newswire in a story outgoing shareholder Nine newspapers carry today.

A consortium of philanthropists and investors on Monday finalised a deal with current shareholders, including Nine and News Corp, to purchase Australian Associated Press which has been operating for more than 85 years.

The consortium, led by Nick Harrington, is made up of a number of people including philanthropist John McKinnon, and has been supported by senior media executive Peter Tonagh.

The new-look AAP, directed by CEO Emma Cowdroy and editor Andrew Drummond, will continue to produce content including breaking and world news, sport, court and political reporting, plus photography and a FactCheck service.

The new owners have committed to retain scores of the current AAP workforce, but there will be job losses. Changes to the business are expected to be finalised ahead of settlement on July 31.

Cowdroy, who has previously worked as AAP’s senior legal counsel, championed news of the sale.

“This is not only great news, but it’s vital for our democracy, as public-interest journalism is more important than ever,” she said.

Other parts of the AAP Group will be retained by the current shareholders. This includes Medianet, Mediaverse, AAP Directories, Pagemasters and Racing operations.

Willoughby home of the Nine Network to become 460 new homes

As the first Nine Entertainment Co start to relocate to the company’s new North Sydney office tower this week, Domain’s Sue Williams reports on the future of the company’s Sydney TV studios:

Mirvac bought the Willoughby head office from the Nine Network, and the neighbouring land of its transmission tower, in February for $249 million.

In the final plans submitted to council, Mirvac is proposing that the 3.2-hectare space off Artarmon Road on Sydney’s lower north shore have nine blocks of apartments built. They range from four to nine levels, with the lower-rise on the perimeter and the higher ones towards the centre.

The buildings will all be set in 6000 square metres of public open space, with a new park, playground and retail plaza. The developer is also applying to demolish the gigantic 233-metre-high steel TV tower, so long a feature of the local skyline.

[Read more]

Could a boycott kill Facebook? ‘Yes’ says analyst

Boycotts can be extremely effective – as Facebook is finding out, reports BBC North American tech writer James Clayton.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign is the latest movement to use boycott as a political tool. It claims that Facebook doesn’t do enough to remove racist and hateful content from its platform.

It’s convinced a series of major companies – including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Starbucks – to pull advertising from Facebook and some other social media companies.

Meanwhile, other online platforms, including Reddit and Twitch, have piled on more pressure by taking anti-hate steps of their own.

Can that boycott hurt Facebook? The short answer is yes – the vast majority of Facebook’s revenue comes from ads.

David Cumming from Aviva Investors told the BBC’s Today program that the loss of trust, and a perceived absence of a moral code, could “destroy the business”.

[Read more]

11th hour reprieve: Community TV channels win 12 month extension

Community TV broadcasters Channel 31 and Channel 44 have been given a 12 month broadcasting extension, reports TV Tonight.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher announced the 11th hour reprieve, almost 24 hours before both faced switch off.

Speaking on Q+A he said, “I can announce tonight that we will be extending Channel 31 and Channel 44 for another 12 months.

“Let’s be clear, it’s been our policy since 2014 that these community television stations should move to operating in a digital mode. Both Channel 31 in Melbourne and Channel 44 in Adelaide have several times said yes, they’re going to make that transition. They have been extended several times.

“I’ve agreed now and we’ll be announcing formally tomorrow to extend for a further 12 months for both of those channels. But we will be using this period to work through with them, what needs to happen for them to successfully transition to digital operations, so that we can still have Community TV as a great place where people can work, can make programs, be responsive to the community…”

Asked by host Virginia Trioli if assisting the transition would involve money he said, “We’re not at that point yet, but what we want to do is work with Channel 31 and Channel 44. in Melbourne and Adelaide.”

C31 General Manager Shane Dunlop told TV Tonight, “We’re grateful for the support of the Federal and Victorian State Governments that will allow our beloved station to make an eventual successful transition online, and are appreciative of their ongoing support of the arts industry.

“We’re looking forward to using the next 12 months to continue to pivot our operations to focus on online broadcasting, and we look forward to working with producers and viewers to ensure that they can still create, distribute and access Community Television content, for many years to come.”

[Read more]

See also: Channel 31 resigned to say goodbye

News Brands

SBS ‘racism’ drove indigenous writer to ‘suicidal thoughts’

Australian screenwriter Kodie Bedford has described a deeply racist workplace culture at SBS, where she started her career as a cadet journalist, reports The Australian’s Caroline Overington.

Bedford, now a writer for the hit ABC TV show Mystery Road, has written a long essay in the form of a Twitter thread, saying she and other indigenous cadets were made to feel like “dopey blackfellas in the corner, ticking boxes” during her time at the multicultural broadcaster.

They endured jokes about alcoholism, and had their accents mocked, she said.

“I won out a journalist cadetship with SBS,’ she began. “I only mention SBS because it’s touted as a champion of diverse voices.

“It wasn’t a champion for me. I still believe in the SBS charter and mission and personally think they have the best content in (Australia) and a lot of good people in the newsroom.”

But, she said, she was made to endure “jokes” about alcohol and forced to clean up her desk like a child, in front of other staff, even though the desks of other colleagues were messier.

She said indigenous staff were mocked for their accents, and encouraged to re-do their scripts over and over, as if they couldn’t speak English properly.

An SBS spokesperson said: “We were deeply saddened to read Kodie’s account of her experiences at SBS in 2008.

“Racism is abhorrent and we are committed to ensuring it has no place in SBS.”

[Read more]

Australian reporter testifies about police beating outside White House

Seven Network US correspondent Amelia Brace has described to a US congressional committee how she was shot by non-lethal projectiles and hit by a truncheon as police violently cleared Washington DC’s Lafayette Square near the White House, reports AAP’s Peter Mitchell in a report carried in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Brace was broadcasting live back to Australia with her cameraman Tim Myers on June 1 when riot police began forming a line in front of them.

“A park police officer who was passing us stopped, turned towards Tim and rammed him in the chest and stomach with the edge of his riot shield, causing Tim to keel over and drop down,” Brace told the committee in Washington DC on Monday.

Brace told the committee it was imperative to democracy that journalists could report from the scene of protests.

“As a reporter I have no interest in becoming the story but over recent weeks many of us have been left with no choice,” Brace said.

[Read more]


Former Hawks captain signs on for regular spots with SEN

The former Hawthorn and Brisbane champion Luke Hodge, who still lives in Brisbane, is already commentating with Channel 7 this year and is now joining Melbourne sports station 1116 SEN, every Tuesday with Gerard Whateley and also Saturday Crunch Time, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

[Read more]

News Corp launches UK’s Times Radio with Boris Johnson exclusive

Times Radio launched in the UK with what it described as an exclusive Boris Johnson interview, reports Press Gazette.

The prime minister was interviewed by Aasmah Mir and Sig Abell on their breakfast show.

Times Radio program director Tim Levell said: “We have always had big ambitions for Times Radio and we are delighted the Prime Minister will be with us on launch day.

“Our promise to listeners is that, in a world of noise and confusion, Times Radio will offer intelligent and thought-provoking news, analysis and conversation, hosted by respected and entertaining presenters.”

Times Radio is broadcast nationally via DAB and operates without advertising breaks, instead offering sponsors “commercial opportunities across the schedule”.

Times Radio is a partnership between The Times, Sunday Times and News UK’s radio division Wireless which owns a number of stations including Talksport and Talkradio.

Hosts include Times writers Giles Coren, Hugo Rifkind, Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson. Signings from outside the paper include Michael Portillo, Gloria De Piero and Cathy Newman.

[Read more]


SBS series shines light on ‘incredibly complicated’ immigration process

For almost five years, Satinder‘s life has been on hold. In 2007, she met Indian national Sumit, who was studying in Australia. They married in 2015 with plans to settle here and start a family but after Sumit overstayed his visa, he returned to India, reports The Age’s Michael Lallo.

So when Satinder was approached by the makers of SBS’s new documentary series Who Gets to Stay in Australia?, she was eager to be involved. “I was in a really tough place,” says the Melbourne woman, who requested her surname be withheld. “I was looking for any help I could get.”

Satinder’s case is one of 13 featured in the four-part series, including a Peruvian man desperate to continue his HIV treatment in Australia and an Irish boy whose cystic fibrosis treatment has been deemed too costly for our public health system.

“People may come to this with black and white views about immigration,” says Joseph Maxwell, head of documentaries at SBS. “But this series is not about taking a political position. What I hope is that people will ask, ‘Who are we – and who do we want to be – as Australians?'”

[Read more]

Shock claims about Chris Lilley’s Jonah from Tonga character

Chris Lilley has posted a telling link on Facebook amid fierce backlash surrounding his controversial Tongan schoolboy character, reports

In a defiant move, the comedian and writer shared a deleted scene from the Summer Heights High spin off Jonah From Tonga which shows his character sitting with a group of students writing the song Don’t Be a Bully from the series.

It is the first Facebook post the comedian has made since May, and comes after former Tongan schoolboy Filipe Mahe, who was the subject of a 2004 ABC documentary series, claimed Lilley based the character Jonah on him.

Lilley, who has portrayed several racially diverse characters in his shows, some using blackface and brownface, is yet to comment directly on his shows being dumped from the streaming service, or the recent claims by Mahe.

[Read more]

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