Roundup: News Corp, Lachlan Murdoch, Paul Malone tribute, Kevin Rudd, Google + more

Plus TEG, Hunt v Rowland, and The Oscars

Media Code

Doubt cast on Google’s $14bn claims

New analysis has cast doubt on Google’s claims that it delivers $14 billion in value to Australia, with critics contesting the tech giant’s statistics asserting that local users save five days a year using Google, that they would have instead spent at the library, reports News Corp’s David Swan.

In its submission to the Senate Committee examining looming media bargaining code legislation, the tech giant said it delivers $14bn worth of benefit to Australian consumers, as well as $39bn to Australian businesses.

The Australia Institute, which is advocating in favour of the new regulation that would force Google and Facebook to pay for news, said in its own report replying to Google‘s analysis that the tech giant has misrepresented its benefits.

“The report falls into the trap of comparing Google with the absence of any realistic alternative at all,” The Australia Institute’s report says.

“The same can be said of the willingness-to-pay study that asks people to put a price on the value of Google. This quite different to asking how much people value Google’s offerings relative to other specific searches, applications, maps and so on. Asking Volkswagen owners to put a value on their Volkswagen is different to asking how much extra they value Volkswagen compared with their next preferred option.”

[Read More]

‘Too much power’: Aussie media code backed by Britain’s regulators

UK competition regulator Andrea Coscelli has strongly backed the Australian Government’s media bargaining code, saying “the digital platforms have too much power and are under-regulated.” reports News Corp’s John Durie.

Dr Coscelli was speaking to The Australian ahead of his speech in the annual Bannerman lecture.

Dr Coscelli noted that between 2008 and 2018, of the 400 acquisitions made globally by the five largest digital firms, including include Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, none has been blocked by competition authorities.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority is adapting to a new regime post-Brexit which means there will be some overlap in its work with the powerful EC competition policy.

The CMA, which has just established a digital markets unit, which like the ACCC is seeking to impose a legally binding code of conduct for the platforms and more power to force “interoperability” which means different computer devices systems can use the same systems.

[Read More]

Business of Media

TEG acquires Handsome Tours

TEG has acquired Handsome Tours, the Sydney-based boutique promoter and events company founded by the team behind Inertia Group of Companies, reports The Industry Observer‘s Lars Brandle.

Announced on the 10th February, TEG snaps up a majority stake in Handsome, which boasts over 20 years’ experience in the live business.

Handsome produced Gang Of Youths’ Say Yes To Life 2018 tour and 2020’s Down To Earth – A Bushfire and Climate Fundraiser at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, which featured Gang Of Youths, Tash Sultana, Angus & Julia Stone and Thelma Plum and raised more than $1.4 million for good causes.

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News Brands

News Corp editors and execs met UK ministers 40 times in just over 12 months

News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his top executives in the UK and US met Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other high-level Government politicians seven times between them in seven weeks last summer, reports Press Gazette.

Murdoch met with Johnson, paid for lunch with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, ate a private dinner with Michael Gove and had an “informal lunch between friends” with Jacob Rees-Mogg between 8 August and 25 September last year.

News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks met with both Johnson and Sunak within one week in September, and News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson each met Johnson held a meeting with Gove at the start of the month.

In total Murdoch has met with Johnson three times since the latter became PM: once in a social setting in September 2019, another at a social event in December that year and once at a “general discussion” meeting in September last year.

In total representatives of News UK/News Corp met with Johnson and other high-level ministers on 40 occasions since 24 July 2019.

Press Gazette details all meetings with UK editorial executives, including three meetings The Guardian’s Katherine Viner attended.

[Read more]

Lachlan Murdoch defends Fox News, says it won’t be changing its ‘centre-right’ strategy

Lachlan Murdoch, facing criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for Fox News’s handling of the election, defended the network’s “centre-right” programming and said its decline in viewers since the end of campaign season was expected, reports SMH‘s Christopher Palmeri.

The chief executive officer of Fox Corp and son of founder Rupert Murdoch also announced a multi-year contract extension for the head of Fox News, Suzanne Scott, a sign of faith in the network’s strategy.

“Fox News, throughout its entire history, has provided the absolute best news and opinion for a market that we believe is firmly centre right,” Murdoch told investors on a conference call on Tuesday (US time). “We don’t need to go further right. We don’t believe America is further right, and we’re obviously not going to pivot left.”

The flagship news network for the Murdoch empire has come under fire recently for its role in promoting stories about alleged widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The network was sued by voting-technology provider Smartmatic last week, a complaint Fox asked the court to dismiss on Monday.

[Read More]

Kevin Rudd says Sky News is using Fox model to radicalise politics in Australia

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News will radicalise politics in Australia within a decade just as Fox News has undermined democracy in the United States, Kevin Rudd has told a parliamentary inquiry into media diversity, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

“For those concerned about the cumulative impact of Fox News in America on the radicalisation of US politics, the same template is being followed with Sky News in Australia,” Rudd told the Senate in a written submission. “We will see its full impact in a decade’s time.”

The former Labor prime minister and his Liberal counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, will be called to give evidence at the Senate inquiry into media diversity set up last year. The inquiry will examine the dominance of News Corp Australia and its impact on democracy.

The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young won support for the inquiry following the popularity of Rudd’s petition for a royal commission into the Murdoch media, which was unsuccessful but garnered more than half a million signatures.

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Hunt accuses ABC presenter of left-wing bias on live TV

Health Minister Greg Hunt got into an argument with an ABC presenter over a Liberal Party post featuring a government vaccine announcement, reports AFR‘s Aaron Patrick.

On Wednesday News Breakfast co-host Michael Rowland complained to Hunt about a social media post that featured the Liberal Party logo with news that the federal government had secured access to more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Hunt responded by accusing the journalist of political bias, leading both men into an on-air tiff.

“I know this is an issue for you,” Hunt said. “In many ways you identify with the left, you do this a lot and I respect that.”

“No minister, no no no, I find that offensive,” Rowland replied. “I’m asking you; I’m exercised about what is right and wrong.”

[Read More]


Oscars: plans underway for show with in-person components at multiple locations

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is offering up a few more details about its intentions for April 25, reports the Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg.

The Academy tells The Hollywood Reporter that the health and safety of participants remains its primary concern and will ultimately dictate what happens on April 25 — but that it is moving forward with plans to conduct a ceremony with in-person components “from multiple locations, including the landmark Dolby Theatre.”

For several years in the 1950s, starting in 1952, Oscar night featured simultaneous gatherings in Los Angeles and New York. One can imagine something similar happening this year — maybe even including cities outside of the U.S. like London, Paris and Seoul, since the Academy’s membership is now truly international — to spare people from having to undertake long-distance travel and to allow for greater social distancing at each venue.

This is not to say that there will not also be a significant virtual component to the ceremony, as there was for the Emmys last September. It is perhaps more so a reflection of the Academy’s need to hold its annual Oscars ceremony — in partnership with ABC — that is the organization’s primary generator of revenue to cover its year-round costs.

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Paul Malone tribute: Sports journalism mourns top Queensland reporter

Queensland has lost one of its most respected sports journalists with the death of former The Courier-Mail sports editor Paul Malone, reports News Corp’s Robert Craddock.

“Scobie’’ Malone, 59, died at St Andrews War Memorial Hospital hospital at 7.30pm on Tuesday night, 19 months after a fall in another hospital left him a quadriplegic.

He had initially entered hospital in May, 2019, for tests just weeks before he was scheduled to take off for a dream family holiday to Wimbledon but the accident during that hospital visit meant the holiday never eventuated.

Malone displayed incredible courage, tackling many major physical and mental challenges with a spirit that had long-serving doctors and nurses expressing deep-seated admiration for the man and his equally inspiring wife Sharon.

Tennis great Rafael Nadal signed a shirt gifted to Malone, adding the message “keeping fighting.’’

Malone adopted those words and used them over and over as a rallying call to himself during demanding treatment sessions when pain levels soared.

[Read More]


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