Roundup: 10 and the A-League, Eurovision Asia, Ben Roberts-Smith case + more


• Regional news bulletins, Christian Porter defamation case, Luna Park files, Australian Made Week, Disney, and Pete Evans

Business of Media

Axing local TV bulletins could be in breach of federal Public Interest News Gathering grant rules

Regional media organisations that have slashed services could be forced to return millions of dollars received from taxpayers at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, reports the ABC’s Matthew Doran.

More than 100 regional publishers and broadcasters were awarded grants from the $50 million Public Interest News Gathering (PING) fund in June last year, as the Commonwealth tried to prop up an industry ravaged by depleted advertising revenue and COVID-19 restrictions.

But since then, some of the nation’s major media players have announced dramatic changes to their regional offerings.

The PING grant guidelines state that successful applicants “will be required to maintain existing levels of journalism production and distribution during the grant period”.

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Deleted text messages revealed in Christian Porter defamation case

ABC journalist Louise Milligan advised a friend of Christian Porter’s alleged rape victim to delete messages they exchanged from her phone, a court has heard, reports News Corp’s Nicola Berkovic.

The woman, Jo Dyer, who is ­director of the Adelaide Writers Week, told the Federal Court she had wanted the rape allegations against the former attorney-­general to be made public after her friend’s death to stop Porter from becoming prime minister one day.

Porter, who is now Industry Minister, is suing the ABC and Milligan over an online article published on February 26, which reported that an unnamed cabinet minister was facing historical rape allegations.

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NSW Police Commissioner demands ABC hand over Luna Park files

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has insisted the ABC surrender all material it collected for its documentary on Luna Park’s fatal ghost train fire so it can be reviewed by detectives ­re-examining the case, reports News Corp’s Ellie Dudley.

State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan and Premier Gladys Berejiklian have been putting pressure on police to indicate whether a fresh inquiry should be launched into the disaster, which claimed the lives of six children and one adult at the Sydney amusement park in 1979, after the three-part series claimed the blaze may have been deliberately lit as part of an arson plot.

However, Fuller on Tuesday said homicide detectives had been unable to assess whether the allegations warranted further investigation as the ABC had failed to provide material to support its claims.

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War hero Ben Roberts-Smith ‘wiped information from laptop’, court hears

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith has been accused of wiping the contents of his laptop’s hard drive five days after being told he needed to retain the material for his upcoming defamation trial, reports News Corp’s Kieran Gair.

Nine’s barrister, Lyndelle Barnett, told the Federal Court on Tuesday that the media company had sought to obtain a series of USB drives found at Roberts-Smith’s former home last year only to be told the contents had been transferred on to a laptop computer around August.

“We then sought the laptop, with a view to it being inspected by an expert, and were told on Friday night that the applicant has wiped the hard drive of that laptop very recently, on the 17th of April,” Barnett said. “We don’t accept it was appropriate for the applicant to wipe his hard drive after being asked to retain it, but that will be a matter for trial.”

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Disney CEO explains hedged bet on movie theaters

Why is The Walt Disney Co. utilizing a number of different theatrical release strategies over the next few months? Disney CEO Bob Chapek says they are “celebrating flexibility” as the company sees how the world recovers from the novel coronavirus pandemic, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

Chapek was interviewed as part of JP Morgan’s Technology, Media, and Communications Conference Monday.

Disney is releasing some films directly to its Disney+ streaming platform (like Pixar’s Luca) and other in theaters and Disney+ on the same day (Marvel’s Black Widow), it has also committed to release two movies exclusively in theaters, albeit with significantly shortened windows (Shang Chi and Free Guy).

“As we have seen with the domestic box office, and to some extent the international box office, we are seeing some hesitancy to return that wouldn’t look anything like normal in 2019,” Chapek says, adding that the company ultimately had to make a call.

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Actors back Australian Made Week for local stories

Australian actors including Bryan Brown, Leah Purcell, Rodger Corser, Aaron Fa’aoso & Matt Day have backed the first ever Australian Made Week, running until 30 May, reports TV Tonight.

Australia Made Week encourages consumers to actively choose genuine Aussie products, in movies, TV shows and other screen content, and to celebrate and support the local businesses and communities behind them.

The campaign is part of a wider push for streaming services to invest 20% of revenue into Australian production, where they top 500,000 subscribers.

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“We tried so hard.” SBS drops Eurovision Asia plans

SBS has abandoned plans for Eurovision Asia after 5 years of development with producers Blink TV, reports TV Tonight.

SBS first announced an Asia-Pacific Eurovision in 2016, licensed by the European Broadcasting Union, to be held in 2017 in Australia with 20 countries competing.

But the project stalled for several years with the event’s official social media pausing all updates back in 2017.

SBS commissioning editor and Australian head of delegation, Josh Martin tells TV Tonight, “I think it’s fair to say we’ve rescinded our rights. We spent a number of years trying to figure out how to do it and then the global pandemic came along.”

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Pete Evans fined almost $80,000 for ‘unlawful advertising’

Controversial celebrity chef Pete Evans has been slapped with an $80,000 fine for unlawful advertising, reports News Corp’s Emily Cosenza.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued the former My Kitchen Rules judge, 48, six fines that totalled $79,920 as well as a directions notice to company Peter Evans Chef Pty Ltd. to ensure the non-compliant advertising was removed.

The fines were issued for advertising therapeutics goods that were not included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) at the time.

This includes a ‘BioCharger’ device, hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers and two oral medicines.

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Network 10 set to clinch new $200m broadcast deal for A-League soccer

Network 10 is set to use live soccer to launch its new Paramount+ streaming service in Australia, with the US-owned television business on the verge of clinching a five-year $200m deal for A-League, reports News Corp’s John Stensholt.

10 will broadcast a Saturday night game live on its main free-to-air channel from the next A-League season, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in October, with the remaining games on Paramount+, which is set to launch in Australia in August.

A-League club owners were given details of the deal at a meeting on Tuesday, and the figure 10 will pay for the soccer rights is considered to be above expectations.

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