The Morrison Government has directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and media companies.
Below is the formal announcement made by the Government yesterday:
The development of a code of conduct is part of the Government’s response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry final report to promote competition, enhance consumer protection and support a sustainable Australian media landscape in the digital age.
In its final report the ACCC identified that Facebook and Google have each become unavoidable trading partners for Australian news media businesses in reaching audiences online, resulting in an imbalance in bargaining power.
In December last year, the ACCC was directed by the Government to facilitate the development of voluntary codes to address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and news media businesses. The Government indicated at the time that if an agreement was not forthcoming, the Government would develop alternative options to address concerns raised, which may include the creation of a mandatory code.
The Government has decided that the original timeframe set out in its response requires acceleration. The Australian media sector was already under significant pressure; that has now been exacerbated by a sharp decline in advertising revenue driven by coronavirus. At the same time, while discussions between the parties have been taking place, progress on a voluntary code has been limited according to recent advice provided by the ACCC following a request by the Government for an update. The ACCC considers it is unlikely that any voluntary agreement would be reached with respect to the key issue of payment for content.
As a result, the Government has instructed the ACCC to develop a mandatory code to address commercial arrangements between digital platforms and news media businesses. Among the elements the code will cover include the sharing of data, ranking and display of news content and the monetisation and the sharing of revenue generated from news.
The mandatory code will also establish appropriate enforcement, penalty and binding dispute resolution mechanisms.
A draft mandatory code will be released for consultation by the ACCC before the end of July, with a final code to be settled soon thereafter.
The Government is delivering a regulatory framework that is fit for purpose and better protects and informs Australian consumers, addresses bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and media companies, and ensures privacy settings remain appropriate in the digital age.
Top Photo: Ministers Paul Fletcher and Josh Frydenberg reveal plans to make digital platforms pay publishers
Publishers of digital content have applauded Morrison Government directions to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and media companies.
ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand chief content officer and EVP, Beverley McGarvey, said: “Having the ACCC develop the Code(s) was always the best option as they are the experts in ensuring a level playing field in commercial bargaining environments. We look forward to meaningful discussions with the competition regulator and the Government in the weeks ahead.
“It’s important to remember that digital platforms have been benefitting from all of our program-related content for years so for the Code to be truly meaningful it needs to cover all premium content developed by a media company, not just news.”
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) said moves to make digital platforms begin to compensate media organisations for the content they have been using for free will go some way towards providing a sustainable future for public interest journalism in Australia.
MEAA Media federal president Marcus Strom said: “The government has realised that voluntary codes don’t work when there is a bargaining power imbalance. Google and Facebook have in part grown off the back of news content. The creators of that content, news media outlets, have suffered while still producing vital public interest journalism.
“Google and Facebook will now be required to negotiate responsibly with news media and start paying for the content they have exploited for free.
“MEAA supports the development of a mandatory code and we will scrutinise the draft legislation carefully. MEAA intends to monitor the distribution of the funds which we believe should support emerging and future journalism, not just existing media outlets,” Strom said.
Seven West Media CEO James Warburton said: “This is a welcome move from the Australian Government – not only to act, but to lead internationally on this critical issue.
“The media industry is dependent on the value of its content being recognised by all users – foreign digital platforms in particular. In the past month our news content alone has reached millions of Australians – it’s only right when this is accessed via third party platforms its creators are fairly compensated.
“We fully embrace the opportunity to work closely with the government and the ACCC to implement this long-awaited action.”
Free TV chief executive officer Bridget Fair said: “It has been clear from very early on that negotiations for a voluntary Code of Conduct were essentially a delaying tactic for the digital platforms in the hope that these issues would blow over.
“Today’s decision is groundbreaking, and we are grateful to the Morrison Government for their commitment to ensuring that Australians will continue to have access to quality Australian content.
“Commercial broadcasters are currently experiencing tectonic forces pulling in opposite directions – record numbers of viewers tuning in to a trusted free service and at the same time a huge hit to their ability to pay for the content viewers value so highly. And the inability of Australian media companies to negotiate fair value for their content with global digital platforms is a big part of that equation.
“The mandatory Code is a crucial step forward for Australian media and more importantly for the millions of Australians who want their local broadcast services to provide them with trusted news and shared entertainment experiences.”
Joan Warner, Commercial Radio Australia CEO, said: “We welcome the Government’s move to redress the power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian media. We will continue to work constructively with all parties.”
News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller said: “For two decades, Google and Facebook have built trillion dollar businesses by using other people’s content and refusing to pay for it.
“Their massive failure to recognise and remunerate creators and copyright owners has put at risk the original reporting that keeps communities informed.
“The decisive move by the Australian Government to go directly to a mandatory code of conduct between the international tech giants and Australian news media companies is a vital step that can help secure the future of Australian journalism.
“Following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) world leading inquiry into the impact of the platforms on the news media industry last year, this announcement is the type of progressive leadership our country deserves.
“The Australia media industry is at a tipping point and a mandatory code that leads to the platforms paying a fair – and very significant price – must be put in place urgently.
“It is essential the mandatory code corrects the power imbalance between the tech platforms and local news media companies and sets rules that lead to the platforms finally paying for the news content they take and profit from.
“The platforms have had many years to act fairly and have chosen not to, and steps like the one now taken by The Australian Government are now finally necessary.
“The rush of audiences back to trusted news sources during the COVID 19 crisis has been a powerful reminder that real journalism must not be destroyed by companies that take it for their own use and refuse to pay.
“I look forward to working through the process to get this code of conduct in place for the start of the next financial year so it can make a material contribution to the future of our industry.”
Hugh Marks, Nine CEO said: “We congratulate the Government for taking swift and decisive action on this important issue. Now more than ever, it’s important the global technology companies take some responsibility for contributing to our society through financially supporting the creation of quality Australian content. We look forward to working constructively with the Government to get the settings in place for this to operate in a simple manner.”
By James Manning
GfK radio survey 2, 2020 was the last radio survey result until the last Tuesday in September. This week Mediaweek visits the networks to look at the highlights they will trading off for the next six months.
Today we start with ARN national content director Duncan Campbell.
On a 18.1% share, this the ARN’s sixth survey in a row as #1 national network
#1 and #2FM Breakfast for The Kyle & Jackie O Show and Jonesy & Amanda in the Morning
#2 and #3 FM Station for WSFM and KIIS 1065
#1FM Station for the fifth consecutive survey for GOLD 104.3 and #1FM Breakfast for GOLD104.3’s The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show for the second consecutive survey
#1FM Station for 97.3FM growing in listenership to 560,000, their highest audience since 2015
#1 Station overall for Mix 102.3 & #1FM Breakfast for Mix 102.3’s Jodie & Soda with Erin Phillips with 21st consecutive win
#2 overall station and Breakfast for 96FM and Botica’s Bunch
ARN been #1 network around the country for six consecutive surveys which is a good achievement at the start of the survey break.
Campbell told Mediaweek: “In addition to ARN being #1, KIIS network is also #1 ahead of Nova and Pure Gold equal #2. It demonstrates the high level of strength we have as a network and the consistency we deliver.
“That should give advertisers lots of confidence about our product as we head into a period with no regular surveys.”
Campbell said along with the good results are some challenges. “We have seen a shift to talk in most markets this survey. Workdays in general seem to be very strong, although the commute has been impacted.
“We had a huge result in Melbourne for the Gold workday figures. We are very well positioned with Gold and then we have the duopoly in Sydney #1 and #2 FM breakfast shows and the #1 and #3 FM stations.
“In Brisbane 97.3 is equal #1, Adelaide is #1 and Perth is #2.
“Some networks have taken a dip as there is some adjustment in listening, but we have remained very strong and consistent.”
While some still point the finger at KIIS Melbourne as being an underperformer by the brand’s own high standards, Campbell pointed out: “I keep coming back to this. [KIIS 101.1] has got a cume of nearly a million and the cume increased this survey. That is a real sign of a station’s strength. If you are losing cume over a trend then you have a systemic issue with the station.”
Campbell reminded us that the station had recently renewed the contracts of Melbourne KIIS breakfast hosts Jase and PJ. “It is really going to work at some point. If the cume wasn’t there I would be much less positive. We just have to convert that cume, not an easy thing to do in a market like Melbourne which is so competitive and full of heritage breakfast shows.”
Campbell also talked about the improved ratings at WSFM which came after a content director replacement. “We put Mike Byrne in there, and he put some basics back into place and we’ve just had a cracker of a survey with cume up to 850,000.” Morning announcer Mike Hammond of course is another of the reasons for the good numbers as WSFM, following on after Jonesy and Amanda each weekday morning. Steve Fitton is also strong in afternoon.
Campbell said the listening patterns shouldn’t change too much more despite the lifestyle disruptions. “Listening has changed a little in terms of dayparts and stations. Like any network we will be prudent about maintaining the [spend] on breakfast benchmarks and then something across the day. We will pull back on any major marketing investment.”
Former Today show regular Stevie Jacobs is returning to the company as the breakfast host on Nine’s newly launched music stations 2UE 954, Magic 1278, 4BH 882 and 6GT DAB+.
“We’re thrilled to have Stevie on board to lead our new music stations,” said Greg Byrnes, Nine Radio’s head of content. “He’ll be heard between 6am and 10am each weekday, playing the best music from the 70s, 80s and 90s, along with classic album tracks. And his breakfast show will include the very latest news, sport, weather and traffic from the Nine Radio newsroom.”
Best known to audiences as the weatherman on the Today show for 15 years, Jacobs move marks a return to radio where he began his media career, hosting a widely syndicated top 10 countdown show. At the time he had his own studio and record label and interviewed countless music stars along the way.
“I’m so thrilled to be back in the studio,” said Jacobs. “I’m a huge fan of radio and can’t wait to dive into the classics from the 70s to the 90s across our four music stations.”
Nine announced two months ago that it would launch a music format playing the best of the 70s, 80s and 90s on its stations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, along with digital radio in Perth.
The first ratings for the new stations indicate that Jacobs faces a big challenge to grow the audiences. At present the breakfast shares, and the very first for the new format, for the east coast metro stations are Sydney 0.4%, Melbourne (no figure meaning it is less than 0.1%) and Brisbane 0.4%. There is plenty of upside.
The new stations soft-launched on February 2 and are available in digital quality via online, apps, smart speakers and DAB+ as well as on 2UE 954AM in Sydney, Magic 1278AM in Melbourne, 4BH 882AM in Brisbane and 6GT DAB+ in Perth.
Nine Radio’s new breakfast show with Stevie Jacobs will commence on Monday, April 27.
Top Photo: Jacobs and McCartney. Nine’s new music breakfast host Stevie Jacobs with one of music’s greatest
The ACM network will retain close to 90% of its audience and almost 6.9 million* readers across its key print and digital assets as it adjusts part of its publishing operations to weather the coronavirus crisis.
This claim comes from the regional publisher after it shutdown many of its non-daily titles recently.
The audience modelling comes as ACM’s 14 daily newspapers, including The Canberra Times and the Newcastle Herald, unite today to send a powerful front-page thank you message to Australia’s army of front-line healthcare workers.
Under the headline ‘Thank you all’, the publications feature the faces of 14 courageous local health workers from across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT who are helping in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACM’s daily mastheads, which also include The Border Mail, Illawarra Mercury, Bendigo Advertiser, Ballarat’s The Courier and Launceston’s The Examiner, and its leading agricultural weeklies such as The Land and Queensland Country Life are unaffected by temporary printing changes taking effect from April 20.
ACM chief marketing officer Paul Tyrrell said: “Messages like our thank you to public health workers will continue to reach a very large audience with the latest EMMA readership data showing ACM would now reach about 6.9 million* Australians each month as we temporarily suspend printing of some of our non-daily newspapers.”
Tyrrell added ACM would continue to provide essential news coverage to digital subscribers and that “ACM is committed to its role as the trusted voice of the areas in which we operate and we will be working to keep those communities connected and informed”.
ACM also highlighted Nielsen digital audience numbers: “March Nielsen data showed over 5.5 million** UAs, which was 30% up from February and 42% up on the same time last year, which continues our upward trajectory in audience volumes,” Tyrrell said.
ACM chief revenue officer Tony Kendall added that ACM’s network of local audiences were loyal and highly engaged. “We are open for business and we have the audience volumes and the trusted environments to help our clients deliver their message to markets,” Kendall said.
Customer-focused initiatives have been put in place to help businesses through this challenging time including an E-commerce Small Business solution aimed at helping local traders who usually rely on foot traffic to operate in a remote digital landscape.
“We have a plug and play integrated solution at highly discounted rates to help small businesses navigate their way into the exciting opportunities e-commerce presents,” Kendall said.
“To support local businesses trying to communicate with customers and help readers stay across changing trading hours and restrictions, ACM has also launched a free Open for Business portal across all websites, which has proven to be a real hit with clients and readers alike.”
ACM’s online network continues its free rolling coverage of local, state and national COVID-19 related news and information to ensure audiences are as well-informed as possible on government updates on public health and safety as well as income support programs.
Source: *EmmaTM conducted by IPSOS MediaCT: Jan-Dec 2019, ACM portfolio monthly total (print & digital, deduplicated)
** Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, March 2020
The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has announced its support of the RSL nationwide initiative ‘Light up the dawn’ to broadcast on digital signs throughout Australia.
‘Light up the dawn’ asks the public to pledge their involvement in a 6am at-home vigil that will replace the traditional march that has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
RSL Queensland State President Tony Ferris said: “This year Anzac Day will be different, and we want every Australian to have an opportunity to take part in this important national moment of appreciation for service people past and present. The qualities evoked by the ANZAC spirit – ingenuity, humour, endurance, courage and mateship – are more important now more than ever.”
OMA CEO Charmaine Moldrich said, “We applaud RSL Queensland for bringing this inspired idea to life. With ANZAC Day services, events and parades cancelled, Australia needs a beautiful gesture like this to galvanise us to celebrate and commemorate the ANZAC spirit. OMA members are honoured to be part of these efforts, using our digital network of screens to do what we do best: get the word out for a momentous event that will bring us together.”
‘Light up the dawn’ takes place on the 25th of April at 6am and includes a commemorative service which will stream from the RSL ANZAC Spirit website and on participating radio stations. When Australians pledge their place on the RSL website, they can download a flyer and place it in their neighbour’s letter box to get their whole community involved.
AthletesVoice has launched AthleteTV (ATV), a new online TV series. The brand-funded video series is created in partnership with Facebook and will be distributed on both Facebook Watch and IGTV.
The show will aim to bring real perspectives from inside the private world of stars, creating new opportunities for fan, athlete and brand engagement.
Each of the 48 episodes will feature talent representing multiple sports, both team and individual, based in Australia and abroad. Audiences will get to ask their favourite athletes questions, see them share their most valued personal possessions and learn how they are staying sane at home.
Episode One features Australia’s most-capped netballer, Liz Ellis, taking on the challenge of managing the entertaining dynamics and banter between Boyd Cordner, Helen Housby, Dan Carter and Michael Cheika.
AthletesVoice & The Roar CEO, Kerry McCabe, said: “The reality right now is that our athletes have been stood down without pay or on reduced pay, sports lovers have little to watch, and brands have lost opportunities for engagement with this valuable audience. There are only so many trick-shot challenges, re-runs and greatest ever lists we can all take. We decided to work with these stakeholders and Facebook to create and evolve a product to enrich the lives of sports lovers who number seven million plus. We want to help fill the content void and support athletes through what will be a quite different sports industry and media landscape in the future.”
With lockdown restrictions the show relies on cameras inside living rooms, kitchens and home offices of some of the world’s most celebrated sports stars, with the show created and curated by the athletes themselves.
Commenting on the partnership, Karren Rogers, ANZ Sports Media Partnerships at Facebook, said: “Right now we’re all craving more personal connections in our daily lives. ATV can hopefully serve as a great companion during this time and we’re excited for Facebook Watch and IGTV to help create some much-needed connection around this content.”
Commenting on Pantene’s sponsorship of Episode One, Stephanie Doyle, Assistant Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble, said: “Sport, and everything it represents for millions of Australians, remains an extremely valuable territory for us, even while sport itself is forced to take time-out. By partnering with some of the biggest and most influential names in sport, ATV provides a strong, clear and well-timed opportunity for us to connect with Australians around the key messages of our #weareunbreakable campaign, in a format that is authentic for its audience.”
Commenting on being involved in the first show, Rugby League star and Sydney Roosters co-Captain, Boyd Cordner, said: “Being cut off from our followers has been one of the hardest parts of life as a professional athlete during these crazy times, so to be able to welcome the people that matter most to sport into our homes through ATV is a great thing to be a part of.”
Boyd Cordner – Australia & NSW Rugby League Captain
Helen Housby – England & New South Wales Swifts sharpshooter
Dan Carter – All Blacks Legend
Michael Cheika – Former Wallabies Coach
Liz Ellis – Australian Netball Legend
Screen Australia has announced three feature films, four television series, a children’s series and two online projects that will share in $8.5 million of production funding.
The projects include family drama The Midwife from the producers of Bloom; a comedy from Kitty Flanagan called Entitled; season two of YouTube sensation Meta Runner; and the debut feature film from artist Del Kathryn Barton who is teaming up with Causeway Films on Puff.
Sally Caplan, Screen Australia’s Head of Content said:
“We’re blown away by the projects in this slate and it’s great to see such a wide range of genres. I am particularly delighted to support Puff, the directorial debut of renowned artist Del Kathryn Barton, who has co-written with Huna Amweero one of the most distinctive, moving scripts I have read for a long while. We’re also thrilled to support so many high quality television productions coming through.”
“Screen Australia is very much open for business and will continue to fund great ideas. This challenging time for the sector will pass, and when it does we can’t wait to see these projects come to fruition.”
The funded features include:
• Puff: The first feature film from award-winning visual artist and writer/director Del Kathryn Barton (The Nightingale and the Rose).
• The Unknown Man: A crime thriller is inspired by the true events the feature film is written and directed by Thomas M Wright (Acute Misfortune), and stars Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris.
• Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) has received completion funding and is Written and directed by Monica Zanetti and produced by MahVeen Shahraki and Patrick James, the film stars Sophie Hawkshaw, Zoe Terakes, Marta Dusseldorp, Rachel House and Julia Billington.
While the funded television projects are:
• Entitled: A six-part series for the ABC written, directed by and starring comedian Kitty Flanagan.
• The Midwife (working title): A family drama about the dedicated staff in the maternity ward of a major city hospital, produced by Playmaker Media for Nine.
• The Newsreader: A six-part drama for the ABC from Werner Film Productions, which follows the unlikely bond between a young TV reporter and a ‘difficult’ female newsreader.
• The Unusual Suspects: A four-part drama for SBS about a migrant workforce of tough, funny, courageous women who join forces with the wealthy women they work for, to engineer a jewellery heist.
Funding has been given to the children’s television project The Strange Chores series 2, and the funded online projects Meta Runner Season 2 and The Power of the Dream.
Top Photo: Kevin and Luke Lerdwichagul, Kitty Flanagan
By James Manning
• Lego & Crime: Nine records second best Monday survey share
• BBQ by the beach keeps MasterChef as clear second in demos
• David Speers and Malcolm Turnbull in primetime drive ABC
Monday news highlights
Seven News 1,267,000/1,203,000
Nine News 1,201,000/1,139,000
ABC News 955,000
A Current Affair 904,000
Four Corners 777,000
Media Watch 702,000
The Project 439,000/684,000
10 News 496,000/321,000
The Drum 279,000
SBS World News 239,000
Morning Show 233,000
ABC News Breakfast 216,000
Nine: Lego Masters was a blast – literally and in the ratings. The numbers are down year-on-year, but the program is leading the pack at 7.30pm on a night when there was plenty of alternatives in the schedules of the FTA broadcasters. The Monday challenge was won by Summer and Iona and had something to do with jumping the shark. The second episode audience was 1,049,000 after 1,239,000 on Sunday.
Nine then launched the first of the two-part mini-series Informer 3838. There was no Greg Haddrick or Peter Gawler (Underbelly writer/producers) involved, but it was unmistakeably an Underbelly instalment with character voiceovers, slow motion walking, drug taking, violence and nudity. One trademark constant with Informer and Underbelly was production house Screentime. The episode did 644,000 which was easily enough to win the timeslot and is a strong number for a drama that started around 9pm and finished close to 11pm.
Nine also showed off a trailer for Halifax: Retribution during the show, a series that counts former Underbelly writer Peter Gawler as part of the team.
Newsreader Peter Overton then had to work late, presenting the Late News until close to 11.30pm with 233,000 watching.
Seven: The channel’s strengths remain the 6pm News, Home and Away and 657,000 and the leading breakfast show Sunrise.
House Rules: High Stakes just made the top 20 with 559,000, close to 548,000 a week ago. 9-1-1 followed with 314,000.
10: The Project continues to report strong numbers with 684,000 after 7pm with Tom Tilley reporting on the day he launched his new PodcastOne series The Briefing.
MasterChef featured a BBQ group challenge on a St Kilda beach where three teams had to feed 1,200. The losing team is into a pressure test tonight with a second person to be eliminated. It was the first episode to dip below 1m with 916,000.
The final episode of this season of Hughesy, We Have A Problem did 332,000.
ABC: 7.30 managed to outrate ABC News last night with a coronavirus special at 7.30pm with 968,000 watching. After 8pm Leigh Sales fired the questions at Malcolm Turnbull in his first interview to promote his new book in an extended episode of the daily current affairs show. The second half hour rated 940,000.
David Speers was then in primetime and it wasn’t election night. He hosted a Four Corners special on the cost of Coronavirus. The episode did 777,000. Media Watch then did 702,000 followed Q+A on 488,000.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||1.9%||7TWO||3.2%||GO!||1.8%||10 Bold||3.3%||VICELAND||1.1%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||2.8%||GEM||2.2%||10 Peach||1.7%||Food Net||0.7%|
|9Rush||1.1%||SBS World Movies||0.8%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.2%||7TWO||3.8%||GO!||2.7%||WIN Bold||3.9%||VICELAND||1.1%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||4.9%||GEM||3.7%||WIN Peach||1.8%||Food Net||0.4%|
|ABC NEWS||1.1%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.9%||9Life||1.8%||Sky News on WIN||2.1%||NITV||0.1%|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
Australian media companies could share in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue under codes of conduct which will force Facebook and Google to pay publishers for the use of their stories and content, reports The AFR’s Aaron Patrick, Max Mason and Yolanda Redrup.
Google and Facebook had roughly $6 billion of the online advertising market in 2018, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
A new mandatory code of conduct will include sharing of advertising revenue generated from advertising against news content on Facebook and Google’s sites, as well as data sharing.
Nine chief executive Hugh Marks would not be drawn on the quantum of revenue his company or the industry will be looking to get in the code, but noted small percentages would be material.
“With roughly $6 billion of revenue in this market, if you’re starting to look at 1 per cent, that would be $60 million. Obviously we will be arguing for higher than the platforms will be willing to suggest,” he said.
Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton said the media industry was dependent on the value of its content being recognised by all users – foreign digital platforms in particular.
“In the past month our news content alone has reached millions of Australians – it’s only right when this is accessed via third-party platforms its creators are fairly compensated,” he said.
The ABC has released a long statement documenting its history of reporting on Cardinal George Pell.
The statement begins:
The ABC has always acted in the public interest in reporting on the police investigation into Cardinal George Pell and in investigating other allegations made against him. The ABC firmly rejects claims that it pursued a “witch hunt” against Cardinal Pell, that it engaged in “vigilante” journalism or that it’s coverage was one-sided or unfair.
At every stage of this story the ABC has presented a wide range of opinions on the case. At every stage of the court process the ABC has reported the legal proceedings objectively, accurately and impartially. In discussions and analysis it has always sought a full range of perspectives on related issues.
The ABC has always sought responses from Cardinal Pell himself to specific allegations during its coverage of the allegations of sexual misconduct against him and the subsequent court actions. It has also sought and presented the opinions of his supporters as well as independent experts on the various issues that have arisen.
The first allegations against Cardinal Pell surfaced in 2002 and were considered serious enough for him to step aside while a Church-initiated investigation was conducted. That inquiry concluded that the complainant was honest but that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the claim.
In 2016 Melbourne’s Herald Sun revealed that a police investigation had begun in 2013 into further allegations against Cardinal Pell.
Neither of those allegations was originally revealed or encouraged in any way by the ABC. However, considering the very high profile and influence of the Cardinal, and his pivotal role in managing sex abuse allegations within the Catholic Church, it was entirely appropriate for the ABC to investigate the allegations.
The ABC has released a statement about possible conflict of interest Dr Norman Swan may have holding a position with Tonic Media. The statement comes after a report in The Weekend Australian headlined “Cash for coronavirus: ABC ‘guru’ Norman Swan after money to turn spin doctor”.
Dr Norman Swan is a highly experienced ABC journalist and health professional who offers informed insights and analysis as part of the ABC’s coverage of COVID-19.
Dr Swan is doing invaluable work briefing the community on the implications of COVID-19 and helping answer people’s questions, including in the Coronacast podcast.
This has included setting out scenarios on what might occur as a result of the pandemic given various different assumptions, primarily using international information because Australian data have not been available. This work has been to the highest scientific standard.
Dr Swan has worked with the ABC since 1982. His contract allows him to undertake external work. All such external work is subject to approval to ensure it does not create any conflicts with the individual’s work for the ABC.
As has already been publicly disclosed in past years, Dr Swan’s external work includes Tonic Health Media, which produces fact-based, independent medical content that streams on video screens in GP waiting rooms and is used by Aboriginal medical services. Dr Swan is a minority shareholder and sits on the board.
Any accusation of a conflict of interest between Dr Swan’s contribution to the community about COVID-19 as a journalist and the work of Tonic Health Media is unfounded.
High-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is lobbying the Australian government to adopt new laws giving it the power to seize the assets of human rights offenders and ban them from entering the country, reports Nine Publishing’s Rob Harris.
The Lebanese-British barrister is leading an international panel of experts on press freedom calling on governments to use Magnitsky-style sanctions against human rights offenders regimes, including those that imprison, murder or intimidate journalists.
Clooney, the deputy chair of the High-Level of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, is set to appear via video link before Federal Parliament’s joint standing committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade next month, following her submission to the inquiry.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have told the British tabloid press that they are ceasing all co-operation because of “distorted, false or invasive” stories, reports Press Gazette.
The couple sent a letter to the editors of The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror in which they said they will not “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of click bait and distortion”.
The pair said they are looking forward to working with “grassroots media, regional and local media, and young and up and coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging”.
What they won’t do is offer themselves up as “currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion”.
The shift means Harry and Meghan’s press team will not even answer calls from the papers.
ARN has announced the sale of iNC Digital Media to Impulse Screen Media. iNC’s team will join the existing Impulse Screen Media team to leverage the Impulse technology, which uses artificial intelligence-powered data, automation and analytics to help clients create measurable, data-driven digital marketing campaigns. The merged entity will retain the iNC Digital Media name and branding.
ARN’s COO Michael Harvey said: “ARN is focusing on Defining Audio in Australia with our continuing investment in radio, music and podcasts. Over the past three years we have built iNC into a successful digital media and marketing agency, however the business no longer aligns with our core strategy. The opportunity has arisen to merge iNC with Impulse Screen Media to allow it to grow even further and together they represent a unique offering in market. We look forward to the iNC team’s ongoing success as part of Impulse Screen Media.”
Impulse Screen’s chairman James Scott said: “By bringing together iNC’s existing sales and operations team under Loan Morris‘ leadership with the Impulse technology platform, we can offer a unique, AI-based approach to our clients, enabling transparent marketing and media buying services. In this data-driven age we need to assist our clients to combine data, analytics and automation at scale as organisations are increasingly seeking to harness the power of their information for a competitive advantage and to identify opportunities for revenue growth and cost reduction.”
Photo: Impluse Screen Media chief technology officer James D’Arcy with MD Paul Garrity
Long-running soap opera Neighbours is about to go back into production following the COVID-19 shutdown – but it will be a very different environment on set, reports ABC’s Michaela Boland and Penny Timms.
There will be no kissing or holding hands, the cast and crew will be isolated into three distinct groups, and camera trickery will be used to make physically-distanced actors look more intimate.
“It’s going to look a bit odd,” said Chris Oliver-Taylor, the chief executive of Neighbours’ production company Fremantle Australia.
“[But] Neighbours is a show that can get away with it.
“We employ hundreds of staff who want to work and feel they can. It’s important we continue to produce a show that reaches millions of people in the UK and a significant audience in Australia.”
Neighbours is believed to be the first suspended TV drama to resume production in the English-speaking world.
The news has excited many in the Australian TV industry, which was devastated by the coronavirus crisis after productions were suspended.
There are hopes the Neighbours production plan will become something of a roadmap for other programs.
Oliver-Taylor said Neighbours would run out of episodes in mid-June if production did not resume.
I produced huge hit shows like Police Rescue, The Secret Life of Us and Love My Way. But they only exist because of local content quotas, writes TV producer John Edwards in Guardian Australia.
I felt a terrible sense of dread last week, when the Australian government suspended local content quotas as part of its $54m rescue package for television, radio and regional publishers.
The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, announced on Wednesday that Australian content quotas for drama, children’s and documentary on free-to-air and subscription TV would be suspended for the rest of the year.
While this is hopefully temporary, the dread remains. Despite their wonderful efficiency in levelling the playing field and ensuring we maintain an on-screen cultural identity at an absolute minimal cost to the public purse, content quotas have never been popular in neoliberal thinking, and it is so hard to put the genie back into the bottle.
When the axe finally fell on NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg, like we all knew it would, attention immediately turned to who would replace him, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Webster.
All eyes quickly focused on the man who swung the axe: ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys, who has been touted as executive chairman long before COVID-19 trashed the 2020 season.
Chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo has been appointed interim chief executive, but many in rugby league have held a view for a long time that V’landys wants the top job.
“I’ve made that clear that I won’t do it,” he insisted when contacted by the Herald on Monday night. “I’m not interested in it and I’ve never been interested in doing it. I don’t think it’s appropriate: there needs to be a segregation between the board and management. I’ve always believed in proper corporate governance, so it would be hypocritical to do anything other than that.
Last Friday, he was frozen out of negotiations with V’landys, Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks and Foxtel boss Patrick Delany as they thrashed out a new broadcast deal for a revamped season and beyond.
When Marks refused to deal with him, culminating in that scorching statement from Nine on April 9 slamming the “mismanagement of the code over many years”, it was the last of the last straws.
Nine chief executive Hugh Marks says he is “very impressed” with his initial dealings with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys and wants to see the 16 clubs properly funded to ensure the NRL “has a great long-term future that warrants our investment in it”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Adrian Proszenko.
Speaking for the first time about his discussions with the NRL, Marks told 2GB’s Ray Hadley that the network was committed to broadcasting the sport.
“One thing I want to see come out of this is that investment goes back into club footy. It’s the tribalism of rugby league that is its greatest strength. Investment in clubs, players and those communities has been underdone for some years and again that’s something I’m agitating to make sure is part of the recovery so we can see a sport that has a great long-term future that warrants our investment in it.”
Marks said his relationship with V’landys had gotten off to a promising start.
“Very impressed,” Marks said. “He’s a man who wants to get things done and he’s a man who is very good at cutting through a lot of noise, simplifying the issues at hand and looking for the right outcomes.”
The AFL is hopeful its massive sponsorship deal with Virgin Australia will continue despite the airline being placed into voluntary administration after failed crisis talks, reports News Corp’s Jon Ralph.
The league has three years left on a five-year deal with Virgin signed in September 2018, with the beleaguered airline also Carlton’s co-major sponsor.
Virgin was unable to secure a bailout package from the Federal government in recent days after requesting a $1.4 billion support package given debts of $5 billion.
It means accounting firm Deloitte has been brought in to consider a restructuring package that could potentially see the company looking to come to arrangements with creditors.
The AFL’s deals with its corporate partners are worth tens of millions of dollars, with the league’s sponsorship with official gaming partner BetEasy worth $10 million a season.