Roundup: Anti-siphoning laws, The Herald Sun, ABC salaries


NZ media code, Twitter, Andrew O’Keefe, US media companies cut jobs

Business of Media

‘Outdated, anti-competitive’: TV’s anti-siphoning laws face overhaul

The nation’s “outdated” anti-siphoning laws should be dramatically overhauled to better reflect mainstream Australia’s evolving television viewing habits, according to a key submission to the federal government’s review of the 30-year-old legislation, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

Prior to the May election, Labor committed to a re-examination of the anti-siphoning laws, which currently give Australia’s free-to-air TV networks – including 10, Nine and Seven – first option to buy the broadcast rights for a list of “nationally important and culturally significant” events such as the major football codes, Test cricket and the Olympics.

The current anti-siphoning list expires in April next year, and final submissions from various stakeholders to the government’s review are due by Tuesday.

In its submission, streaming-led subscription TV company Foxtel Group says the federal government should address the ­“inherently anti-competitive” aspects of the legislation that unfairly favour free-to-air broadcasters.

It is understood the Foxtel submission will say the anti-siphoning list should be reduced in scope and only include those events that truly satisfy the objective of ensuring Australians have free access to events of “national importance and cultural significance”.

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Government to scrutinise media laws as NZ forces Google, Meta to bargain

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has conceded parts of Australia’s landmark news media bargaining laws are “lacking” as multicultural broadcaster SBS publicly demanded a crackdown against Meta for its failure to strike commercial deals with smaller publishers, report Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios and Jessica Yun.

In New Zealand, the Ardern government has revealed its own plans to introduce laws that will force tech giants Google and Meta into negotiations for use of news content in the country, after smaller outlets became concerned they were unable to strike commercial agreements with the digital giants. The move has been described by Meta as a failure to understand the way its relationships with publishers work.

Australia’s news media bargaining code was introduced last year in an effort to force Google and Facebook to pay eligible large and small news publishers to display articles in the search engine and “newsfeed”. It was introduced after the competition regulator found there was an imbalance of bargaining power between media companies and digital platforms.

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Twitter leans on automation to moderate content as harmful speech surges

Elon Musk‘s Twitter is leaning heavily on automation to moderate content, doing away with certain manual reviews and favoring restrictions on distribution rather than removing certain speech outright, its new head of trust and safety told Reuters, report Katie Paul and Sheila Dang.

Twitter is also more aggressively restricting abuse-prone hashtags and search results in areas including child exploitation, regardless of potential impacts on “benign uses” of those terms, said Twitter Vice President of Trust and Safety Product Ella Irwin.

“The biggest thing that’s changed is the team is fully empowered to move fast and be as aggressive as possible,” Irwin said on Thursday, in the first interview a Twitter executive has given since Musk’s acquisition of the social media company in late October.

Her comments come as researchers are reporting a surge in hate speech on the social media service, after Musk announced an amnesty for accounts suspended under the company’s previous leadership that had not broken the law or engaged in “egregious spam.”

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Man seen leaving TV host Andrew O’Keefe’s place was allegedly carrying a cocktail of illicit drugs

The man who left Andrew O’Keefe’s unit shortly before the TV star failed a drug test was allegedly carrying a cocktail of illicit drugs, reports News Corp’s Clementine Cuneo.

Mitchell Sturt, 51, was stopped by police on a Vaucluse street 10 days ago after police monitoring O’Keefe’s home as part of his bail conditions saw the mystery man leave.

Sturt, a cricket fanatic from Abbotsford in Sydney’s inner west, was allegedly carrying the drug ice, cocaine, LSD and GHB.

He was charged with five offences including drug possession, and will face court on January 11.

When contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Sturt declined to comment on the drug charges he is facing.

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News Brands

From CNN to Paramount, US media companies cut jobs as pressures mount

An advertising slowdown, economic worries and strains of the shift to streaming have many major media companies in cost-cutting and layoff mode, report The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Krouse and Joe Flint.

News organizations, TV networks, movie and television studios, and entertainment giants laid off hundreds of workers over the past week alone, including Warner Bros. Discovery Inc, CNN, and Paramount Global’s television-production units.

The moves come after many entertainment companies spent the past few years spending heavily on streaming services that are now a drag on financial results. Traditional broadcast and cable television, meanwhile, continue to face viewer and subscriber erosion.

Add on fears of a recession and a slowdown in ad spending, and an industry that managed to survive and in some cases thrive as audiences swelled during the Covid-19 pandemic is now in retreat.

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Herald Sun’s Nick Papps condemns government department move to ban Mark Knight’s Uluru cartoon

The Herald Sun’s weekend editor Nick Papps has condemned an order given by a government department to remove a political cartoon featuring Uluru, describing it as “complete overreach”. The Melbourne newspaper was sent an extraordinary letter last week from government organisation Parks Australia, accusing the publication of breaching media guidelines by publishing cartoonist Mark Knight’s illustration in Wednesday’s print edition, reports The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth.

The cartoon showed Nationals leader David Littleproud outside Parliament House in Canberra under a floating Uluru with the text “Indigenous Voice to Parliament” written across one side.

Papps, who is the Saturday and Sunday Herald Sun editor, said the instruction given to the masthead was over the top and a dangerous development in the restriction of press freedom.

“Being told Mark needed a permit to draw Uluru in a cartoon was ridiculous,” Papps said.

“Mark is an award-winning cartoonist and this cartoon like so many others was his perspective on an important public debate – he has to be free to express that perspective and we will always fight to make sure he is.”

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Senator pursues details of ABC’s top exec salaries despite failure

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson is planning another attempt to force the ABC to disclose the salaries of its top-paid executives after two motions were voted down by the Senate late last week, reports Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios

Henderson has signalled she will be relentless in her efforts to have the wages disclosed in a more transparent way, claiming it was “untenable” that information is kept secret from taxpayers.

“As a publicly funded corporation accountable to Australian taxpapers, it is untenable that information about this expenditure should remain secret,” she said. “That the ABC’s public interest immunity claims were supported by Labor and the Greens shows they could not care less about transparency.”

“I will continue to fight for greater transparency at the ABC and intend to make further requests for information. The ABC Act is no longer fit for purpose and it is clear we need legislative reform to ensure that the national broadcaster is delivering in the interests of all Australians.”

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