Mediaweek Roundup: Media bargaining code, Australian Open, Ticky Fullerton + more

Ticky Fullerton

• ABC defends use of ‘Invasion Day’, Clare Gill joins Seven, Ross Greenwood and Seven continues fight with Cricket Australia

‘We don’t respond to threats’: PM responds to Google’s ultimatum

The Prime Minister has slapped down a threat from Google to remove its search product from Australia if the current form of the proposed news media bargaining code proceeds, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Scott Morrison said Australia made its own rules, warning the government did not respond to threats.

“Let me be clear. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia. And people who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats,” he said.

Local Google boss Mel Silva told a Senate hearing into the proposed code that its current form would leave the search giant with “no real choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia”.

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Call to bring tech giants into line over news content now

Australia’s largest media companies have called for an urgent resolution to the debate over the failure of digital platforms to compensate news organisations for the use of their original content, and reinforced their concerns that the market dominance of the tech giants is a serious threat to democracy, reports News Corp’s James Madden and David Swan.

Representatives from News Corp, the ABC, SBS, AAP, the Guardian, Nine and Free TV ­appeared at Friday’s Senate committee hearing into the federal government’s proposed mandatory media bargaining code, pleading a collective case for its introduction without delay.

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Google, Facebook slammed for ‘changing the goalposts’

Josh Frydenberg has accused tech giants of constantly “changing the goalposts” after Google threatened to pull its search engine from Australia in response to the government’s proposed news media bargaining code, reports News Corp’s Adeshola Ore.

The Treasurer said Facebook and Google had constantly shifted their position on proposed legislation which would force the platforms to pay for news content created by Australian outlets.

“It seems the digital giants keep changing goalposts,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

“Originally they were against what we were putting forward on algorithms, then they were against what we were putting forward on a final arbitration model. Now it seems they’re against paying for any clicks on search. They keep changing the goalposts.”

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Google’s answer a ‘no show’ failure

The centrepiece of Google’s solution to paying for journalism is “Showcase”, a product that is not in operation in Australia and has not been shown in detail to the regulator, a senate committee heard on Friday, reports News Corp’s David Swan.

Appearing before the committee probing looming mandatory media bargaining laws, Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said Google’s Showcase platform was a “good viable solution” for paying publishers for journalism, given it has a global budget of $1.3bn over three years and has nearly 450 news partners globally.

However, multiple media executives, including top-ranking officials from Nine, The Guardian, AAP and News Corp, told the committee they had not seen a live, working version of Showcase.

Google describes News Showcase as offering an “enhanced storytelling experience” in which users will be able to read entire articles, including in some cases paywalled content, in a similar platform to Apple News, and Facebook’s news tab. The product has been launched in Germany and Brazil but its launch is on pause in Australia.

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News Media

ABC defends use of ‘Invasion Day’ to mark Australia Day celebrations

The ABC has defended its decision to officially refer to January 26 as “Invasion Day”, maintaining it would be inappropriate to insist that staff only call it Australia Day or “use any one term over others in all contexts”, reports News Corp’s Steve Jackson.

The national broadcaster attracted a barrage of criticism — and was accused of stoking national disunity and promoting its own political agenda — after publishing a story on its ABC News website in which the terms “Invasion Day” and “Australia Day” were used interchangeably.

Scores of Australians were quick to register their disapproval online after the article — an otherwise unassuming guide to activities taking place in capital cities around the country on Australia Day this week — was uploaded on Sunday morning.

The news story, entitled “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin”, described the January 26 public holiday as “one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar”.

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Seven taps former Nine exec as Google, Facebook battle heats up

One of the architects of the negotiate-arbitrate model aimed at tackling Google and Facebook’s monopoly in Australia has been tapped to lead Seven West Media’s regulatory and government affairs team, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

The Kerry Stokes-controlled media company has appointed former Nine Entertainment executive Clare Gill to lead government and regulatory affairs as the fight to introduce laws to level the playing field between local media companies and international tech giants heats up.

Gill left Nine (owner of this masthead) after four years in late 2019. Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks and Gill were under scrutiny in 2019 for hosting a $10,000 a head fundraiser for the Liberal Party.

Seven, which owns The West Australian newspaper, is expected to have a more vocal position on the news media bargaining code, given Ms Gill’s experience working on ways to regulate Google and Facebook in her time with Nine.

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Business specialist Ticky Fullerton puts big picture in focus

Award-winning journalist Ticky Fullerton has been appointed The Australian’s Business Editor at Large, as the nation’s premier masthead deepens its coverage of business and finance.

Fullerton, widely respected at the highest levels of corporate Australia, will write broadly on the most important issues facing business operators and investors as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has more than 20 years’ reporting experience at the ABC and News Corp and joins The Australian from Sky News, where she was Business Editor and co-presented the channel’s flagship business program Business Weekend.

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Veteran Ross Greenwood joins Sky as business editor

For someone who accidentally fell into business journalism, Ross Greenwood has made a pretty good fist of it, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

As of this week Greenwood will bring his skills to Sky News Australia, having been appointed the network’s business editor and the anchor of one of its flagship programs, Weekend Business.

In December, the newspaper established the Australian Business Network, which combined its premier national business team with the local expertise of state masthead journalists for the first time.

Greenwood will front his first episode of Weekend Business on January 31.

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Heat Waves by Glass Animals tops triple J’s Hottest 100

Glass Animals have topped this year’s Hottest 100 countdown with their pared-back single Heat Waves, reports SMH‘s Broede Carmody.

The British psychedelic pop group were the favourites in the lead-up to the annual music countdown thanks to their hit song’s simplicity and the fact it has become something of an anthem for young people during lockdown.

Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley previously promised to get a tattoo in the shape of Australia on his buttock if his band took out the top spot. Calling Triple j from the UK, he said he still intended to get the tattoo – which will be his first.

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Seven to continue fight for discounted broadcast rights

Channel 7 is leading a double life in its relationship with cricket but there remains a chance the station may never cover another Test match, reports Robert Craddock.

Seven West Media will stay the course in its fight for a cut in rights fees over the quality of matches and scheduling issues despite the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between Australia and India delivering massive ratings.

It remains to be seen whether daily press releases from Seven spotlighting the station’s strong Test match ratings will be used against the network in its fight for a discount.

Following the last day of the final Test in Brisbane last Tuesday, Seven released a statement saying the series had reached 10.8 million Australians, and ratings on the fourth Test were up 11% on when the Indians last visited Australia two years ago.

The strength of Seven’s argument for a cut in fees may, perversely, be undermined by its strong ratings this season, however, its plea for a better deal stretches wider than the Test series.

Seven pays more for the Big Bash than it does for Test rights and it has claimed the Big Bash, with travelling hubs and a lack of star players, is a diminished product.

CA and Seven are awaiting an independent ruling of the value of the rights from designated assessor, Venture Consulting chief executive Justin Jameson.

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Nine’s tennis gamble comes at cost as Seven’s cricket ratings soar

It was the bold top secret programming steal executives at media company Nine dreamt would deliver a golden marketing opportunity – “an unparalleled launch platform” as they pitched it in 2018 – for its TV shows, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

Yet the decision to dump one national summer sport and replace it with another by switching from cricket to tennis may yet be remembered as a questionable call by outgoing Nine CEO Hugh Marks.

It’s a gamble that has proven a diverting distraction for industry playmakers and the sporting world alike in recent weeks as the pandemic plays havoc with Nine’s broadcast schedule – along with the field of competitors – for this year’s Australian Open, Nine’s $300 million summer sports investment.

Caught short by the pandemic, Nine, despite all its confident gesturing, has, after just one season, effectively surrendered that much coveted launch platform – for which Nine turned its back on a three-decade long association with Cricket Australia — to its rivals Seven and Fox Sports, which also broadcasts the cricket.

According to TV insiders, the lost promo platform isn’t the only thing now hurting Nine with the media company forced to invest in an expensive grab-bag of content to fill the three-week programming void created when the tennis tournament was moved from January 18-31 to February 8-21.

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