Mediaweek Roundup: Miranda Devine, Domain, Emma Alberici + more

• The Border Watch, Anjali Rao, David Schwarz, Sima Taparia, Roy, HG and Fatso

Business of Media

Domain boss confident of post-shutdown bounce, but timing unclear

Domain chief executive Jason Pellegrino says property markets outside of Melbourne are improving and he expects listings volumes to bounce back quickly as various lockdown restrictions are lifted, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Pellegrino said up to the time of Melbourne’s lockdown, the city’s property market was performing better than Sydney with strong listings growth.

“It’s difficult to predict and we don’t want to crystal ball the outcome,” he said.

Domain reported a net loss of $227.7 million for 2019-20, largely related to $249.9 million worth of significant items, including the write-down on the value of goodwill, which generally covers elements such as brand, reputation and intellectual property, associated with Domain’s core digital business.

Excluding significant items, Domain reported a net profit of $22.2 million, down from $37.4 million in the prior corresponding period. Revenue was down 18.3 per cent to $280.4 million.

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News Brands

Historic SA newspaper The Border Watch closes after 159 years

South Australia’s largest regional newspaper, The Border Watch, will cease publication on Friday after 159 years, reports The Advertiser’s Erin Jones.

The award-winning newspaper’s board of directors said the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly worsened the financial viability of Mount Gambier’s paper.

The company’s associated digital platforms and other newspapers, The South Eastern Times in Millicent, and The Pennant in Penola will also cease on Friday.

Thirty-eight staff are employed by the company and were only told of the decision yesterday. In a statement, the directors added that declining advertising revenues and sales, as well as increasing online competition, had contributed to the decision.

“To our loyal readers and advertisers we say a big thank for your support over many years,” the statement said.

“Finally to our loyal and dedicated staff who have given so much to this company and its various media operations over so many years, we say a big thank you and our hearts go out to them and their families during this difficult time.”

Founded in 1861, The Border Watch has remained locally-owned – first by the Laurie and Watson families and more recently the Scott family.

Allan Scott, the late trucking tycoon bought the paper in 1977 and ramped up its production to four-times-a-week.

Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin was shocked at the news. “It’s a travesty that we will no longer have this local media representation. The paper has provided our history over 100 plus years and we won’t have that record in the future,” she said.

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ABC kowtowed to former PM Malcolm Turnbull: Emma Alberici

Lawyers acting for former high-profile ABC journalist Emma Alberici have accused the broadcaster of kowtowing to personal complaints by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and senior ministers, alleging editorial managers had repeatedly tried to silence her reporting so as not to upset the government, reports The Australian’s Simon Benson.

In a legal letter sent in July to managing director David Anderson, obtained by The Australian, ABC news director Gaven Morris is accused of telling Alberici that the prime minister was constantly calling him to make complaints.

“Mr Morris has complained to our client that she is the cause of the ‘prime minister ringing him’ with complaints,” the legal letter from McArdle Legal says.

The Australian can reveal that Alberici has settled her dispute with the ABC after a protracted negotiation, which ended up in the Fair Work Commission, after she was targeted in a recent purge of 250 staff.

Her lawyer, Chris McArdle, said last night the “idea of a prime minister ringing an employee of the ABC is beyond precedent”.

ABC last night refuted the claims. “The allegation that former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull made a phone call to ABC director news Gaven Morris on any matter is incorrect,” a spokesman said. “The ABC has no further comment to make.”

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Miranda Devine ‘silent’ in Quaden Bayles defamation case, court told

News Corp columnist Miranda Devine has not responded to a defamation claim brought against her by nine-year-old Indigenous boy Quaden Bayles and did not brief a lawyer to attend court, the Federal Court has heard, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michaela Whitbourn.

Quaden, who has achondroplasia dwarfism, is suing Devine for defamation over a series of tweets from her Twitter account in February this year that raised questions about whether a viral video in which he cried after being bullied at school was “a scam” to make money.

At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, the family’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, told the Federal Court Devine “unfortunately” had not acknowledged the claim.

Quaden and Yarraka are also suing Nationwide News, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph, alleging the company is Devine’s employer and is responsible for the tweets.

Devine, a columnist at the Telegraph in Sydney, is on secondment at The New York Post. Legal questions arose on Thursday about the identity of Devine’s employer while she is working in the US.

Ashurst partner Robert Todd, acting solely for Nationwide News and not Devine, told the court the company’s position was that the tweets were “private” and unrelated to material it published.

He said he had not been instructed to accept service of legal documents on behalf of Devine.

The parties return to court at a later date.

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Former CNN and SBS anchor told she’s ‘too brown’ for commercial TV

Former SBS and CNN news anchor Anjali Rao has spoken out about the rejection and hurt of being told she was “too brown” for commercial TV, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

Rao says the news industry refuses to embrace diversity and it reduced her to tears to realise she would never be accepted.

“I basically kept my trap shut for years because I knew that if I said anything the fear of the backlash is real,” Rao told the Herald Sun.

“Look at the make up of telly here and really, if you are diverse here you are a brunette and that’s what it comes down to.

“One particular head of news once told me, and this was not very long ago, that Australian audiences are not ready for Australians of colour to front news.

“The things I would get told to my face were so painful.

“I’m too different, too brown, got a funny name, too foreign, too risky, that my British accent will never work in this country. If that happened to me at the top of my game I cannot imagine how awful it is for Australians of colour who are just starting out or trying to.”

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Radio

David Schwarz recounts ‘devastating’ sacking from radio station SEN

David Schwarz has opened up on his “devastating” sacking from SEN with co-host Mark Allen, accusing owner Craig Hutchison of “ruining the station” and driving down its ratings, report News Corp’s Jon Ralph and Glenn McFarlane.

Former Melbourne star Schwarz, who now works at 3AW radio, says he has not spoken to Crocmedia boss Hutchison since he and Allen lost their jobs in December 2017.

Allen and Schwarz abandoned a $1 million lawsuit because of former pro golfer Allen’s health battle as he successfully fought stage four cancer.

But Schwarz told the Herald Sun’s Sacked podcast a thriving and popular station had become a shadow of its former glory and that staff were “walking zombies” because of their workload.

“Hutchy came in and he bought into SEN or they merged (with Pacific Star Network) and we got our marching orders, which was devastating on many fronts, and then we went over to Macquarie Sport,” Schwarz told Sacked.

“We came off air at seven o’clock on the last day (of the year) and then we were told to get our stuff together and get out of the building, and that was by Cathy Thomas, who was the CEO at the time. She started crying and carrying on, but Hutchy had pulled the trigger. We were out.”

[Read more]

See also: Podcast Week: Angus & Dylan on ListenABLE, Steve Price On The Record

Television

Indian Matchmaking: Sparks fly as ‘human Tinder’ at work on Netflix

Sima Taparia claims to be Mumbai’s “top matchmaker”. Dubbed the “human Tinder”, she jets between India and the US, using her “biodata” – spreadsheets outlining her clients’ resumes and vital statistics – in a bid to help them find love, writes The Australian’s Rosemary Neill.

Taparia, known as Sima Aunty to her clients, is the patient, pragmatic yet often spectacularly politically incorrect star of Indian Matchmaking, a Netflix reality docuseries that is proving to be a surprise hit for the streaming giant, even as it has caused uproar.

In the series’ opening minutes, Taparia declares that in the matchmaking business, “in India, you have to see the caste, you have to see the height, you have to see the age”.

Released last month, the reality show has been heavily criticised for glossing over the “harsh realities of arranged marriages” (Elle magazine); being “cringe-worthy” (BBC) and indulging in “caste-ist glee” (The Atlantic).

It also has been accused of endorsing colourism (discrimination based on skin colour), sexism and focusing solely on upper-caste Hindus. Predictably, the controversy has served only to entrench the reality series’ popularity in India where, according to Bloomberg, Netflix previously struggled to attract eyeballs to its US-dominated programming.

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Sports Media

Roy, HG and Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat stole the show at Sydney 2000

For the past 10 years, among the nearly 500 steel poles outside ANZ Stadium which form an abstract art installation called “Games Memories”, an empty plinth has stood as a constant reminder of a crime which, to this day, remains unsolved, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.

It was once home to a small fibreglass statue of Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat, the unofficial mascot who took the Sydney 2000 Olympics by storm.

At some point on the night of the 2010 NRL grand final between St George Illawarra and Sydney Roosters, Fatso was stolen. The perpetrator has never been found and the plinth has been bare ever since.

For Fatso’s forefathers, “Rampaging” Roy Slaven and HG Nelson – or John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver – the mishandling of the case by NSW law enforcement remains a sore point.

As Roy and HG, Australia’s favourite fictional sports broadcasters, Doyle and Pickhaver have made long careers out of straddling the fine line between honouring Australia’s obsession with sport and ridiculing it.

The Dream with Roy and HG, which aired every night at 11pm during the 2000 Olympics, remains their undisputed peak – and their first hit, having spent the previous 15 years carving out their own niche on radio and television with mock calls of rugby league grand finals and State of Origin, and the cult variety show Club Buggery.

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