Mediaweek Roundup: Alan Jones, NRL grand final, Julie Bishop + more

Alan Jones

MediaWorks, Rupert Murdoch, Dan Oakes, Facebook, Cricket Australia, and Jeremy Cameron

Business of Media

Window opens for Oaktree media escape in New Zealand

Regional consolidation is on the cards, reports The AFR’s Street Talk column.

This time, the attention is firmly on Oaktree Capital Management, which owns arguably New Zealand’s strongest media business MediaWorks.

Oaktree has owned MediaWorks since 2015, having first tipped money into the debt stack before buying the business out of receivership. It sold down its stake to 60 per cent last year.

Firstly, MediaWorks found a buyer for its television business (global entertainment company Discovery, Inc) and then on Thursday it announced a high-flyer (ex-Air New Zealand commercial officer Cam Wallace) as the new chief executive to take the reins of what’s left.

What’s left is the crown jewels; the country’s No. 1 out-of-home and radio businesses.

The logical acquirer is Quadrant Private Equity’s QMS Australia, whose Kiwi arm already owns 40 per cent of MediaWorks alongside Quadrant and is expected to have both the financial capacity and appetite to increase its bet.

[Read more]

How much influence does the Murdoch media have in Australia?

How influential is Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire? According to Kevin Rudd, extremely, and not in a good way. The former prime minister has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Murdoch family’s media company, News Corp, which he says has the power to sway public opinion to protect its own agenda and to damage its political enemies, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

There is only one other commercial news organisation that has scale comparable to News Corp in Australia – Nine Entertainment Co. Nine, which bought Fairfax Media in 2018, owns the Nine television network; The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, The Australian Financial Review, streaming platform Stan and radio stations such as 2GB in Sydney, 3AW in Melbourne and 4BC in Brisbane.

Derek Wilding, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Media Transition, says it is difficult to work out just how much reach News Corp – or any media company – has because of the way the industry measures audiences.

[Read more]

News Brands

ABC journalist Dan Oakes will not be prosecuted over Afghan Files leak

Federal police have confirmed ABC journalist Dan Oakes will not be prosecuted over his reporting on alleged war crimes carried out by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, reports ABC News.

The Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) said there was a reasonable chance of securing a conviction against Oakes over the leaked classified documents that he used to form the basis of his reporting.

But the CDPP said there was no public interest in pursuing a prosecution.

In a statement, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said it had referred a brief to the CDPP, outlining three potential criminal charges.

“In determining whether the matter should be prosecuted, the CDPP considered a range of public interest factors, including the role of public interest journalism in Australia’s democracy,” the AFP statement said.

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Alan Jones suing SBS for defamation over segment on The Feed

Veteran radio and television broadcaster Alan Jones is suing public broadcaster SBS for defamation over a television segment which he claims “greatly injured” his reputation by wrongly portraying him as a racist, a misogynist and a liar.

On the day of his retirement announcement, SBS program The Feed broadcast a “tribute” in which presenter Alex Lee said Jones “made a career out of bullying people”, “gleefully used racial slurs” and “spread lies and fake news”.

“He secretly took money from companies to spruik their products on air, was arrested once, and sued for defamation more times than I can count. Oh, and he was on the radio for a bit,” Lee said.

The episode was later published online on catch-up platform SBS On Demand, and on various social media pages.

In documents filed in the Federal Court last week, barristers Sue Chrysanthou SC and Kieran Smark SC argue the broadcast conveyed ten defamatory imputations about Jones, including that he “achieved his success as a broadcaster by habitually seeking to intimidate vulnerable people”.

[Read more]

Facebook greatest source of Covid-19 disinformation, journalists say

The majority of journalists covering the pandemic say Facebook is the biggest spreader of disinformation, outstripping elected officials who are also a top source, according to an international survey of journalism and Covid-19, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

The social media platform, which announced this week it was updating its hate speech policy to ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, was identified by 66% of journalists surveyed as the main source of “prolific disinformation”.

Despite 82% reporting the misinformation to Facebook, and its other platforms WhatsApp and Instagram, which also spread fake news, almost half said they were unhappy with the response.

Twitter, YouTube and Google Search also frequently spread disinformation about Covid-19, the survey conducted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University found.

[Read more]

Television

Politician-turned academic Julie Bishop close to making a reality TV debut

Julie Bishop … reality star? Nearly! Strewth’s spies say the former foreign minister was set to star in Celebrity Apprentice Australia but mysteriously pulled the pin last Friday, just days before the cast was announced, reports The Australian’s Alice Workman.

Why? We hear the prestigious Australian National University wasn’t too happy about its chancellor appearing on a reality show. Even one hosted by 73-year-old British billionaire Lord Alan Sugar (who didn’t get a sweet reception on his arrival down under after taking a highly coveted seat on a flight from London). Were the academics afraid Bishop would get fired?

[Read more]

Sports Media

Amy Shark confirmed as headliner for NRL grand final after gig for V’landys

Indie pop darling and multi-ARIA Award-winning singer Amy Shark has been confirmed as the headline act for the NRL’s grand final on October 25, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nathanael Cooper.

The news comes on the back of Shark’s ARIA nominations for best female artist, best pop release and best Australian live act earlier this week.

The Queensland-born singer performed for NRL boss Peter V’landys last month at Sony Music headquarters, before being booked for the gig. She played a number of tracks from her upcoming album, including her next single C’Mon which will be released before the grand final and form part of a medley of songs she will perform on the night.

[Read more]

Cricket Australia splash cash as broadcast rights fight takes a key turn

Cricket Australia is preparing to splash the cash on international stars to add box-office appeal to the Big Bash League as it emerged the sport’s governing body had taken a key step in its broadcast rights fight, reports Nine publishing’s Jon Pierik and Andrew Wu.

In a move that will address Channel Seven’s concerns over the quality of the Twenty20 league, foreign players could be offered more than $140,000 to take part in the eight-week tournament.

BBL boss Alistair Dobson said on Thursday nothing had been confirmed as to how the competition would secure elite Australian talent.

“We haven’t put together any specific thoughts around how we’ll do that,” Dobson said.

The plan to pay a third international from what would effectively be a lucrative payment pool outside of the salary cap is still to be rubber-stamped by the Australian Cricketers’ Association, who have traditionally expressed concern to local money heading overseas, but CA has made its intentions clear.

The BBL schedule is yet to be released, but sources familiar with the subject say the event will start December 10 with a final on February 6 – before Australia are to leave for slated tours to South Africa and New Zealand.

[Read more]

GWS star Jeremy Cameron meets with key Giants and Seven’s James Warburton

In-demand GWS Giants forward Jeremy Cameron has met with club powerbrokers and the head of Channel 7 over lunch in Sydney as he weighs up his future, reports News Corp’s Jay Clark.

Cameron spent Wednesday afternoon with GWS chief executive Dave Matthews, Sydney-based Channel 7 chief executive James Warburton and newly-signed Giants’ forward coach Steve Johnson at top restaurant Rockpool.

Warburton left the lunch earlier than the others where Cameron’s future would have been on the menu.

Cameron, 27, is weighing up a big decision on his contract and has strong interest from Geelong and Collingwood.

But the Giants remain confident Cameron will remain at the club and in particular are excited about reuniting close mates Johnson and Cameron after a two-year stint as teammates in 2016-17.

Warburton’s presence is interesting as one of the most powerful figures in Australian television.

It is likely Warburton would have spoken with Cameron about where he wants to take his career and future opportunities in Sydney as arguably the second biggest name in the game in the Harbour City behind Lance Franklin.

[Read more]

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