Mediaweek Roundup: ABC budget cuts, Ray Hadley + Women In Vogue

• Evan Williams, Game of Thrones, Foxtel and AFL

Business of Media

Election ramifications: ABC staff told to brace for cuts

ABC staff have been warned to brace for cuts following Scott Morrison’s shock election win, with the national broadcaster needing to find $14.6 million in savings in the next financial year, reports The Australian’s Andrew White.

Managing director David Anderson told staff yesterday a “budget challenge” was looming after his lobbying efforts in Canberra to reverse a freeze on indexation to its $1 billion budget were ignored.

The ABC will not receive $83.7m in budget increases over the next three years after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last month confirmed a freeze on increases linked to inflation.

In an email to staff yesterday, Anderson said the ABC faced cuts to its budget of $14.6m from July as a result of the indexation freeze.

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The Age’s Michael Lallo quotes one senior ABC staff member saying Anderson may lobby the government to reverse the cuts:

“Nobody loves market research more than Scott Morrison,” the staff member said, referring to the prime minister’s previous career as head of Tourism Australia.

“He’d be well aware that most Australians are fond of the ABC and, apart from a vocal minority of reactionaries, most people don’t want to see it diminished.”

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News Brands

George Pell contempt charges against Ray Hadley and editor withdrawn

Contempt of court proceedings against broadcaster Ray Hadley and the editor of the Herald Sun newspaper have been withdrawn in relation to the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, reports ABC News’ Karen Percy.

The names of the editor of the Herald Sun newspaper, Damon Johnston, and Hadley, a 2GB radio broadcaster, have been struck out from updated documents filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday by Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecution (OPP).

More than 30 journalists and news organisations are still facing contempt proceedings after allegedly breaching suppression orders related to the guilty verdict against Cardinal Pell over historic sexual offences.

When the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) first filed the proceedings, it contended many of the 36 named parties “had a tendency to interfere with the due administration of justice in the prosecution of Pell”.

In the updated statement of claim, Johnston and Hadley were not listed as defendants.

The documents show the publisher of the Herald Sun, the Herald and Weekly Times, is still facing possible sanctions over its online coverage.

Macquarie Media, which owns 2GB, is also still being pursued by the DPP.

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MP’s claim: Far-right and The Guardian created ‘fake’ story

Liberal MP Andrew Hastie says he is pursuing legal advice over articles published during the federal election campaign that reported he had met with far-right extremist and convicted criminal Neil Erikson at a white farmers’ rally in Perth in April last year, reports The Australian’s Victoria Laurie.

Hastie, who has regained his seat of Canning with a 4.6% swing to the Liberals, announced he had placed the matter with his lawyers after Erikson posted a video on Google saying that he had made it all up.

In the video titled “The Media are idiots – Sorry Hastie” and posted hours after the polls closed at the weekend, Erikson said he had been at the rally but had lied about meeting Hastie and another Liberal MP Ian Goodenough.

A spokesman for Guardian Australia said their reports were not based on Erikson’s claims, but on Goodenough saying he and Hastie had met Erikson at the rally. “We approached Mr Hastie before publishing that article and he did not provide comment.

“When Mr Hastie later denied meeting Mr Erikson, we reported that also, along with Mr Goodenough’s further description of the ‘brief encounter’.”

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Journalists slam membership tweet from MEAA regarding election result

A post-election “call to arms” tweet made from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance account has sparked backlash online, with some saying the statement is at odds with the premise of journalistic impartiality, reports The Australian’s Elias Vistonay.

The tweet has since been deleted, and called for those “angry at the result of Saturday’s election” to join the union.

“Our strength comes from working together, even in moments of adversity. YOU are our strength and together we will overcome any challenge we meet in the next three years”.

John Lyons, head of investigative journalism at the ABC and three time Walkley Award winner, said it was “utter nonsense”.

“Our job as journalists is to report events, not to get ‘angry’ after the majority of Australians choose a Govt,” he tweeted.

After deleting the tweet, the MEAA reposted it without mention of the election.

An MEAA spokesman told The Australian the MEAA Twitter account is shared by its different wings, which cover journalists, actors, musicians and those in the entertainment industry.

He explained that the tweet was made with the hashtags #MEAAEquity and #MEAAECS, and that it was intended for members of its equity and crew sections, and not journalists.

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Pioneering editor and film critic Evan Williams dies aged 84

Pioneering editor of The Sunday Australian and longstanding film critic Evan Williams died at his home in Sydney last week, reports The Australian’s Matthew Westwood. He was 84.

Williams began his career as a cadet journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald in 1952 and in 1971 was appointed the inaugural editor of the Sunday edition of The Australian, published for just over a year before being merged with The Sunday Telegraph.

A decade later he returned to The Australian as a film critic – moonlighting from his job as an arts bureaucrat – and stayed for 33 years during which he shared his spot with David Stratton.

His son, author Roy Williams, described his father as a libertarian in matters of artistic ­expression. “He was a very moral person but he did not believe in censorship,” he said.

Williams and wife Janet celebrated 60 years of marriage in January.

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The Australian today publishes a tribute from his son Roy Williams:

With the death of Bob Hawke last Thursday and Saturday’s election result, the Australian Labor Party has endured a traumatic week.

Just a few days earlier it also lost one of its finest, if most humble, servants. Evan Williams neither sought nor attained political fame but for nearly 40 years he was a trusted confidant of some of the ALP’s titanic figures.

He used his talents to help them try to implement a shared vision of Australia: fair, humane, socially inclusive, intellectually and culturally enlightened.

Williams’s most lasting achievements were in the field of the arts, but the proudest period of his working life lasted from early 1973 to late 1977. He served as press secretary and speechwriter to Gough Whitlam, initially as prime minister, then from December 1975 leader of the federal opposition. While not blind to Whitlam’s flaws, Williams freely admitted that “Gough” was his hero. “I loved his vigour, his insouciance, his erudition, his candour, his eloquence, his daring,” he once said. “His chief attribute was a kind of innocence.”

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Women In Vogue: Gallery celebrating 60 Years of Vogue in Australia

Vogue Australia and the National Portrait Gallery have collaborated to produce a special exhibition, Women In Vogue: Celebrating 60 Years.

Opening on 11 October, 2019 the dynamic exhibition will showcase 60 years of the Vogue Australia archive, together with a special tribute to some of the remarkable Australian women who have featured in its pages. The show will include iconic portraits of Cate Blanchett, Kylie Minogue and Elle Macpherson, among others.

Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Edwina McCann said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with the Gallery on this very special exhibition. Vogue Australia has been a renowned and trusted source for fashion and beauty in this country for 60 years, something we are very proud of.

“The elegant and contemporary exhibition will draw on our archive and highlight Vogue Australia’s role in documenting the changing roles and diversity of Australian womanhood over two generations. I couldn’t think of a better way to start our 60th anniversary celebrations.”

The Gallery’s director Karen Quinlan said: “This exhibition will reveal stunning images of some of the nation’s leading cultural exports from the last 60 years, as seen in Vogue.

“Rare examples of archived magazines will be on show, from the early decades of publication through to bold photographs of icons of the 21st century. Here at the home of portraiture, this collaboration will present images of the vibrant, evolving identity of Australian women.”

Women In Vogue: Celebrating 60 Years in Australia will be on at the Portrait Gallery from 11 October to 24 November, 2019. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased via the Gallery’s website.

The exhibition is supported by the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation.


Foxtel scrambles to keep subscribers after Game of Thrones finale

Embattled pay TV provider Foxtel has offered some customers aggressive discounts as it scrambles to halt an exodus of subscribers following the end of hit series Game of Thrones, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Josh Dye.

The pay TV provider emailed selected customers on Monday following the final episode of the show offering discounts of $10 a month for the next 12 months.

“There is life after Game of Thrones,” the email to customers of its Foxtel Now streaming service on Monday said.

The discount offer ends on May 31 and must be redeemed via a unique code, to avoid it being shared with more people.

Foxtel declined to say how many customers had signed up ahead of the cult series, or how many customers had cancelled.

“We’re proud to have had the privilege of bringing our customers one of the greatest TV events of all time and are equally thrilled with the subscription response to Foxtel Now that came with the lead up to Game of Thrones,” a Foxtel spokesman told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“As part of this upcoming season of drama, we are sending a select group of customers a special offer to keep their subscriptions open so they can continue to enjoy a host of new drama and movies.”

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Final episode: Reign ends for flawed but fabulous Game of Thrones

Eight years ago, when HBO’s Game of Thrones made its modest debut, no one imagined a sex-drenched medieval fantasy featuring dragons and zombies would become the defining television phenomenon of the decade, reports The Australian’s Justin Burke.

And as of yesterday’s episode on Foxtel, it’s all over. Endings can be a raw and divisive experience for audiences; perhaps more so in this case for Australian ones, who could rightly conclude that the federal election last weekend delivered superior twists and turns.

The dramatic features of the finale, The Iron Throne, were deserved, if unsurprising. Daenerys Targaryen had been the show’s beloved dragon-riding heroine until she burned the inhabitants of an entire city, simultaneously winning the Iron Throne and forfeiting her moral claim to it with her ends-justified-the-means utopianism. Her lover (and nephew) Jon Snow chose duty over love and stabbed her during a passionate embrace in sight of the throne she had long coveted. And Bran Stark, the wheelchair-bound boy wizard, was crowned – as most bookmakers had predicted.

Did all of this unfold with panache, poignancy, suspense? No. Rather, it felt like the efforts of a creatively exhausted production.

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Why that rushed Game of Thrones finale made perfect sense

After all the bloodshed, butchery and burning, Game of Thrones ended not with a bang but with a ballot. Democracy trounced dragons, comments The Age’s Karl Quinn.

For 72 episodes spread over eight seasons, the world’s biggest television drama had been driven by one central question: who would sit on the Iron Throne? Would it be Daenerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons, who believed it was her destiny not only to rule the Seven Kingdoms but to “break the wheel” of tyranny that had kept the ordinary people repressed for, well, forever?

In dramatic terms, it may have resolved itself with something like indecent haste. But thematically, it made perfect sense.

Warfare and bloodshed may have provided many of the thrills across the 73 episodes of Game of Thrones, but there was never any real doubt that politics would win in the end.

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Sports Media

AFL’s push into China gathers momentum

The AFL will open a commercial office in Shanghai to try to sign more Chinese sponsors and help Australian companies break into the Chinese market, headlining a strategy of devoting more resources to one of the world’s fast-growing economies, reports The Australian’s John Stensholt.

The move will follow Port Adelaide’s upcoming match against St Kilda in Shanghai on June 2, which is set to be the South Australian side’s most profitable venture overseas yet. Port Adelaide will make $300-500,000 from the match, having clinched new sponsorship deals and sold corporate packages around the game, which will account for about 12 per cent of the club’s annual revenue this year.

Port Adelaide chairman David Koch told The Australian his club would make its first profit in the third edition of the China game after two previous matches against Gold Coast.

“The game is very expensive. It costs $4.5 million to put on but that is fully underwritten by our Chinese partner (Gui Guojie’s Shanghai CRED), who we have for another five years including this year,” Koch said.

“We’ve broken even for the first two years, but we will make money from the venture this year.”

The match will be broadcast on Guangzhou TV and Shanghai TV in China, and the AFL claims all 10,500 tickets to the game will be sold – about half to locals and the remainder to Australian tourists and corporate hospitality guests.

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