Mediaweek Roundup: Google backflips, Murdoch’s speech, Australia Day honours + more

rupert murdoch speech

•REA shares lift, Facebook News launches in UK, Angelos Frangopoulos needs 140 for new TV channel, Peter Fegan ‘embarrassed’ after drug bust, BBL10 finals schedule

Business of Media

Google backflips on news product launch amid political battle

Google has backflipped on plans to halt the local launch of its news product in an attempt to prove to the federal government it is a better way of paying media companies than newly proposed laws, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios and Lisa Visentin.

The change of heart by the $US1.8 trillion ($2.3 trillion) search advertising giant to roll out Google News Showcase as early as February comes as competition tsar Rod Sims said the tech giant only did deals with news outlets in France after intervention from the regulator.

Google first announced plans to launch News Showcase in Australia last June and signed deals with small local outlets such as Crikey, The Saturday Paper, The Conversation and regional newspaper business Australian Community Media. But it delayed its plans when the local competition regulator revealed a draft version of a news media bargaining code, telling news outlets it would not launch until it had a better idea of how the proposed laws would affect it financially.

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News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch slams cancel culture in rare speech

Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire mogul behind Fox News, took issue with the silencing of debate on social media, saying “awful woke orthodoxy” was hobbling public discourse, reports Bloomberg.

Murdoch, 89, made the rare public remarks during a brief video to accept a lifetime achievement award from the Australia Day Foundation. The clip was posted online by the Herald Sun, a Melbourne newspaper owned by Murdoch’s News Corp.

Watch the video here.

“For those of us in media, there is a real challenge to confront,” he said. “A wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate and ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential.”

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Netflix’s Australian tax bill revealed: $500k on revenue of $670m+

Netflix Australia paid less than $500,000 in tax for the 2019 calendar year despite more than an estimated 5 million subscribers paying at least $9.99 a month, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

That is because the revenue from Australian subscribers – estimated between $670 million and $1.2 billion – flows to a Netflix company resident in the Netherlands.

In the 2019 calendar year, Netflix Australia paid income tax of $485,371, up from $341,793 in the 2018 year, according to Australian Securities and Investments Commission filings.

In February 2020, AMPD Research, a subsidiary of Media Partners Asia, estimated Netflix had 5.6 million Australian subscribers.

Rough calculations based on these subscriber estimates and applied to the 2019 calendar year suggest Netflix could have made between roughly $670 million and more than $1.2 billion.

“We comply with all Australian and international tax law. In addition, we continue to invest aggressively in local content,” a Netflix spokesman said.

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Domain, REA shares lift, Domain poised to invest to diversify revenue

Low interest rates and a property market recovery have coincided with a rebound in the share prices of real estate listing groups Domain and REA as the two players look for opportunities to grow their businesses, reports The SMH’s Zoe Samios.

In the last few weeks Domain’s shares have climbed to a record high of $4.65 and News Corp-owned REA’s hit $154.30 in early January.

As half-year results approach and property listings continue to improve, Domain and REA Group will look at ways to grow their businesses and alternative revenue streams could be key.

Media industry sources familiar with Domain’s strategy have said the company is about to make a $100 million strategic investment in a sign it is looking to diversify its revenue. It is unclear which company it is looking to buy a stake in but industry sources have suggested it could be surveying business GlobalX or home loan broker Lendi (Domain has a joint venture with Lendi).

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Australia Day Honours 2021: Lorrae Desmond, Val Lehman, Maureen Plavsic, Vicki Tiegs

Veteran stars, presenters and media execs have been recognised in the annual Australia Day Honours, reports TV Tonight.

Former A Country Practice star Lorrae Desmond and former Prisoner star Val Lehman both become a Member of the Order of Australia along with Graham Ross from Better Homes & Gardens.

But veteran broadcaster Kerry O’Brien who was given an Officer of the Order of Australia declined after word that tennis champion Margaret Court was honoured.

Also recognised are former segment presenter for The Morning Show, Glenn Wheeler, and former SBS presenter, Craig Foster.

Made a Member AM in the General Division of the Order of Australia was the late Mrs Maureen Anne Kerridge (formerly Plavsic), who was Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director and Executive Director of Seven from 2000-2003.

For significant service to the television industry, to the arts, and to charitable organisations.

Given a Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division was Vicki Maree Tiegs, former National Promotions and Publicity Director, WIN Corp 1996-2002. Tiegs continued to work with WIN as a client of her PR firm for many years for service to the community of the Illawarra.

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News Brands

Facebook News launches in UK following deals with publishers, but no News Corp

Stories from news outlets including the Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Financial Times will appear in a dedicated Facebook feed from today, reports The Guardian.

The UK launch of the Facebook News service is the first outside the US. In addition to already-inked deals involving the Guardian, the Economist and hundreds of local sites, Facebook on Tuesday announced new partnerships with Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group.

The deal, which will earn leading publishers millions, will be a financial boost as they face a bleak economic landscape, in part because such a large proportion of the ad market is now controlled by the social network.

Meanwhile, the EU copyright directive threatens a similar scenario across Europe. Last week Google agreed a deal to pay news publishers for online content in France, the first such deal on the continent.

Of the UK’s national news publishers, News UK – which publishes the Times, the Sunday Times, and the Sun – is the most significant holdout. It already has a deal with Apple News.

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Angelos Frangopoulos needs 140 for new TV channel, hires News Corp Sydney exec

Angelos Frangopoulos’ GB News has launched a recruitment drive for 140 jobs, calling for “disruptors and innovators” who want to help “reshape television and digital news”, reports Press Gazette.

Chairman and ex-BBC presenter Andrew Neil has said GB News will target “the vast number of British people who feel under served and unheard by their media”.

But chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said “we are committed to impartial journalism”.

Available roles on the 24-hour TV and online news channel, expected to launch later this year, include producers of all levels, video journalists and reporters, technical production journalists, creative journalists and executive assistants.

The job adverts describe GB News’ plans to be “refreshingly different”, calling for staff who can “tap into what the country is talking about” and do “not want to make traditional news or follow what everyone else is doing”.

One of the first hires is Lucinda Duckett who has been named director of corporate affairs and editorial advocacy.

Duckett most notably spent 13 years at News Corp Australia where she was group editorial development manager and editorial communications manager and managed Australia’s Right to Know campaign which led to a reform of Freedom of Information laws.

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Former Channel 7 crime reporter Peter Fegan ‘embarrassed’ after drug bust

An “embarrassed and ashamed” former Channel 7 News reporter has revealed he quit his job after being busted with two bags of cocaine after his work Christmas party, reports’s Steve Zemek.

Peter Fegan walked out of Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Monday vowing to get his career back on track after being sentenced to an 18-month conditional release order.

Fegan, 38, pleaded guilty to one count of drug possession with Deputy Chief Magistrate Jane Mottley not recording a conviction.

Fegan was suspended from duty before he resigned from his role as a crime reporter with Seven News over the incident which happened on the night of his Christmas work drinks last year.

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Artist Peter Kingston and journalist Kerry O’Brien rebuff Australia Day honour

The acclaimed artist Peter Kingston will return his Australia Day award, joining notable recipients who say the elevation of former tennis champion Margaret Court to the country’s highest honour undermined the award’s intention to foster community unity, reports The SMH’s Linda Morris.

Kingston called on Court, a Pentecostal preacher who has attracted criticism for her views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, to reconsider her words and actions and acknowledge the pain they caused.

Journalist Kerry O’Brien also refused to accept the Australia Day honour he was due to receive Tuesday citing the “deeply insensitive and divisive decision”. O’Brien expressed his support for Canberra medico Clara Tuck Meng Soo who will also return the Order of Australia she received in 2016 for her work with the LGBTQI + community and HIV sufferers.

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Jackie O’s ex says: ‘There is no problem at all’ as he works in the same office

Having separated more than 20 years ago, former golden couple of Australian radio Phil O’Neil and Jackie O are back working out of the same Sydney office, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

O’Neil, also known as Ugly Phil, landed a job on ARN’s WSFM 101.7 at the end of last year.

WSFM is the sister station to ARN’s KIIS 106.5, on which Jackie O co-hosts the market leading FM breakfast show with Kyle Sandilands.

“There is no problem at all there,” O’Neill told Confidential.

“It is funny because a lot of people say that but we worked together 20 years ago. It was a long time ago. We are still mates, nothing has changed.”

Expat Brit O’Neil returned to Australia last year after a stint working in the UK for stations Planet Rock and Fix Radio.

He and partner Samantha had intended on staying longer but with COVID crippling the industry decided to return home after just over a year on ground.

“It was been a while but not as long as we’d hoped obviously,” the broadcaster said.

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Debi Enker likes Emily in Paris, doesn’t like Bridgerton…she’s not alone

I have a healthy tolerance for junk TV, writes The Age’s Debi Enker. Yes, OK, sometimes even an appetite for it. I can admit, with only a twinge of embarrassment, that I’ve watched all of Emily in Paris. Just as there are times when fast food hits the spot, there are times when a serve of trashy TV is just right.

Which is why my escalating antipathy as I ploughed through Bridgerton (Netflix) surprised me. By halfway through its eight-part first season – a second has recently been announced – I was thoroughly sick of the Bridgertons, their nasty neighbours, the Featheringtons, and most of London’s Regency-era high society. Even with the elaborate costumes, the lavish balls, the spirited sniping and the ostensibly steamy romance and hot sex. Even with its megaphone-blasted theme of female empowerment wrapped in a bodice-ripping yarn.

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Sports Media

TV and radio guide: KFC BBL|10 Finals series schedule confirmed

The Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat will host matches in week one of the KFC BBL|10 Finals series with the schedule for matches on January 29, 30 and 31 revealed.

The Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers will join them in the Finals series after also finishing in the top five positions on the KFC BBL|10 ladder.

The first three KFC BBL|10 Finals series matches are:

Friday, January 29: ‘The Eliminator’, Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers, the Gabba, 6:15pm AEST / 7:15pm AEDT

Saturday, January 30: ‘The Qualifier’, Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers, Manuka Oval, 7:15pm AEDT

Sunday, January 31: ‘The Knockout’, Sydney Thunder v winner of The Eliminator, Manuka Oval, 7:15pm AEDT

The winner of The Qualifier will earn the right to host the KFC BBL|10 Final on Saturday, February 6.

The loser of The Qualifier will receive a second chance to make the Final, taking on the winner of The Knockout on Thursday, February 4. This match is known as The Challenger.

All Finals matches will be broadcast live on Seven, Foxtel, Kayo and SEN Radio.

Manuka Oval has been nominated by the Sixers and Thunder as the venue for their home finals this weekend due to the limitations around travel for teams in and out of Sydney due to current state border restrictions. This decision gives fans of both Sydney-based clubs the best chance to attend and see their teams live.

Decisions regarding the locations for matches in week two of the KFC BBL|10 Finals series will be made in due course.

Alistair Dobson, Cricket Australia’s Head of Big Bash Leagues, said:

“The KFC BBL|10 Finals series is the crescendo of an extraordinary summer of Big Bash, with 115 matches (56 KFC BBL|10 to date and 59 rebel WBBL|06 matches) played so far across seven states and territories.

“Our thanks once again go out to all state and territory governments, our KFC BBL clubs and their players and staff, broadcast partners Seven, Foxtel, Kayo and SEN, commercial partners KFC, BKT, Toyota, Sanitarium, Rexona and all club partners and venues who has made this season possible. We also acknowledge the work of our own staff in getting us to the Finals, particularly the medical and biosecurity staff who have safely navigated us through the challenges of the current health situation. We look forward to a big Finals series beginning Friday night.”

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