Roundup: Abbott and Credlin podcast, ABC board appointments, Facebook

peta Credlin and Tony Abbott

Voice referendum, Canada and Meta clash, Cheng Lei, BBC suspends presenter, Domain and Broadsheet team up

Business of Media

Facebook to wade into Voice referendum with funding

Meta will provide a one-off funding increase to its news offering in an attempt to crack down on misinformation in the lead up to the referendum over whether to introduce an Indigenous Voice to parliament, reports Nine Publishing’s Nick Bonyhady.

The company, which owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and a newly launched Twitter variant called Threads, faced heavy criticism for allowing misinformation during the 2016 presidential election in the United States.

But Meta now has a playbook for addressing controversial public events, which its public policy boss Mia Garlick said would be expanded for the referendum scheduled for later this year.

“We’re committed to playing our part to safeguard the integrity of the referendum,” Garlick said in a company blog post.

Meta will give an undisclosed amount to the Australian Associated Press, RMIT’s FactLab and Agence France-Presse to boost their fact checking programs, which identify false articles. Meta will warn users about sharing links to those articles, limit how many people see links from those who ignore the warnings, and add a disclaimer to readers.

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Australian media watches on as Canada and Meta clash over news code

Australian publishers are watching closely as Facebook’s parent company, Meta, clashes with the Canadian government over its new Online News Act, a copycat policy of Australia’s world-first news media bargaining code, ahead of renegotiations in the coming year, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

The Canadian government announced last week it would stop purchasing advertisements across Facebook and Instagram in response to Meta’s plan to end news availability on its platforms in the country. The move mirrors Facebook’s move in Australia two years ago to ban publishers and users from sharing or viewing news articles on its platform in response to the then-Morrison government’s proposed media bargaining laws.

Canada passed the Online News Act last month requiring Meta and Alphabet (owner of Google) to negotiate deals with the nation’s publishers over displaying news content, similar to the requirements in the news media bargaining code, which passed into law domestically in 2021.

Both companies subsequently signalled their intent to block all news on their key platforms in Canada by the time the law comes into effect this year, according to Bloomberg.

Meta signed agreements with many of Australia’s top publishers two years ago in three-year deals, meaning renegotiations could begin towards the end of 2023. However, many industry onlookers have suggested Meta’s history of behaviour in Australia and hardline approach in Canada indicates the next round of negotiations with Australia’s publishers are unlikely to yield the same result.

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Partner of detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei has called for her urgent release from a Beijing prison

The partner of imprisoned Australian journalist and TV presenter Cheng Lei says she must be released and is suffering enormous distress as she awaits the handing down of her verdict next week, reports The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth.

Nick Coyle has told The Australian the mother-of-two is continuing to live a nightmare not knowing when the matter will be resolved and she continues to live under highly restrictive and isolated conditions in a Beijing prison.

The 48-year-old was detained by the Chinese Ministry of State Security in August 2020 after being charged with providing state secrets to foreign organisations.

A verdict on the matter has already been delayed seven times.

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News Brands

ABC board appointments ‘months away’ as decision over Buttrose looms

Appointments for two vacant ABC director seats are months away, with a decision on chair Ita Buttrose’s position soon to be on the Labor government’s agenda in its first opportunity in 10 years to stamp its influence on the national broadcaster, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

Buttrose was appointed by Scott Morrison in 2019 and is yet to publicly indicate whether she will seek a second term. Two of the nine directors’ seats on the ABC board are vacant after Joseph Gersh, appointed by the Turnbull government in 2018, was not reappointed this year and the departure of Fiona Balfour in February less than two years into her term.

Balfour, a former chief information officer at Qantas and Telstra, stepped down from the board after pressure from Buttrose over a perceived conflict with her directorship at a Telstra-affiliated company.

A senior source close to the ABC board, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the appointment of two directors remained “several months away” after the government received more than 400 applications to its advertisement for the roles in May, with a new selection panel chosen last month.

Board appointments are subject to a merit-based selection process, and are ultimately at the discretion of Communications Minister Michelle Rowland.

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BBC suspends presenter for allegedly paying teen for sexually explicit photos

Britain’s BBC has suspended a male member of staff on Sunday following an allegation that one of its star presenters paid a teenager thousands of pounds to pose for sexually explicit photos, beginning when they were 17 years old, reports the ABC.

The broadcaster said it first became aware of a complaint in May, but new allegations of a different nature were made to it on Thursday, and it had informed “external authorities”.

London’s Metropolitan Police said it had received initial contact from the BBC but no formal referral or allegation had been made.

“We will require additional information before determining what further action should follow,” it said in a statement.

The BBC said it was a “complex and fast moving set of circumstances” and it was “working as quickly as possible to establish the facts in order to properly inform appropriate next steps”.

“We can also confirm a male member of staff has been suspended.”

The statement said “it is important that these matters are handled fairly and with care”, without giving details on the claims.

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Domain and Broadsheet team up to sidestep struggling print revenue

Real estate listings business Domain is partnering with independent publisher Broadsheet Media to revamp its magazine Domain Review as it grapples with falling print revenue, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

Under the venture, Domain Review, a free Melbourne-only print title, will share its masthead with Broadsheet, a lifestyle, culture and city guide. Broadsheet is published in print six times a year in Melbourne and Sydney, and less in the other main capital cities. The new magazine, which launches in mid-August, will remain owned by Domain with editorial and design content contracted to Broadsheet.

The title will retain the masthead to form a merged print and digital product, Domain Review Broadsheet, with editorial content produced by Broadsheet and Domain continuing to operate commercial sales.

Sources close to Domain, who requested anonymity so they could speak freely, said the company had initially been looking to offload Domain Weekly, with its separate editorial content having “no place” within Domain’s online content strategy, largely serviced by and Nine’s publishing titles, including this masthead.

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Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin join forces for new Sky podcast

It has been almost eight years since former prime minister Tony Abbott and his then chief of staff Peta Credlin last worked together in politics, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

But clearly, old habits die hard. In the course of a rare joint interview, Credlin still repeatedly ­refers to the former PM as “the boss”.

Perhaps it’s because the ex-PM, who ran the country from 2013 to 2015, and his former top staffer are to be reunited as colleagues once more with a new fortnightly podcast that launches on Wednesday next week, eponymously titled Abbott and Credlin.

While Abbott has been a semi-regular guest on Credlin’s Sky News show in recent years, ­Abbott and Credlin will be the pair’s first regular gig together since they departed politics.

Why are they joining forces? Abbott tells The Australian that it is, in part, to help conservative politics in this country to “fight back”.

The former PM says the timing of the new Sky podcast is a ­direct riposte to what he sees as overblown claims of a long-term decline in right-wing politics in Australia, following the defeat of the federal Liberal government last May: “Plainly the demise of the Morrison government, and the inevitable cries that this marks the start of some sort of long-term crisis for Australian conservatism, is a good time to take stock and, I dare say, to fight back.”

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