Roundup: Ben Roberts-Smith, Stan Grant, Spotify’s free audiobooks

Ben Roberts-Smith

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Business of Media

Death threats from Ben Roberts-Smith supporters aimed at journalist

Supporters of disgraced former SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith have directed a number of death threats at investigative reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Nick McKenzie since May, when a judge ruled in favour of his reporting on alleged war crimes committed by Roberts-Smith, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

In June, Justice Anthony Besanko ruled that on the balance of probabilities Roberts-Smith was guilty and complicit in the murder of four unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan. It was a decision several years in the making, following extensive reporting by McKenzie and Chris Masters, who were both subsequently sued for defamation by the former soldier and former Seven Network executive.

See Also: “I really wasn’t out to dig up a scandal”: Chris Masters on his time at the centre of the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial

“Good morning Nick. I hope you receive the same punishment that Ali Jan allegedly received… just sleep on it mate,” McKenzie was told in a phone message in July, referencing one of the victims of Roberts-Smith.

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Man accused of abusing Stan Grant online has three charges dropped, offers to apologise

The man accused of threatening former ABC journalist Stan Grant on social media has had three of his charges dropped and his lawyer says he wants to meet with Grant to offer an in-person apology, reports The ABC’s Sean Tarek Goodwin.

Michael Steven Davis was facing one charge of using a carriage service to threaten serious harm and three charges of using a carriage service to harass or offend. The 41-year-old allegedly used his Facebook and Twitter profiles to threaten “serious harm by assaulting the victim” in May this year.

Mr Grant, who is a Wiradjuri man and hosted panel show Q+A, had announced he would step down from his role as host, saying he had been the target of racist commentary and online abuse.

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Facebook and Instagram could charge for ad-free services in EU

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta is considering charging users in the EU €13 a month to access an ad-free version of Instagram or Facebook on their phones, as the company grapples with regulatory pressure on how it uses people’s data, report The Guardian’s Dan Milmo and Lisa O’Carroll.

Meta is also weighing a €17 charge to use Instagram and Facebook without adverts on desktop, according to sources close to the discussions. Accessing both apps on smartphones would cost about €19 a month.

The social media company is considering the charges after a July ruling by the European court of justice, the highest in the EU. The Luxembourg-based court stated that under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Facebook cannot justify using personal details to target people with personalised ads – its core means of earning money from operating the platform – unless it receives their consent first.

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US accuses Google of illegal methods to push up ad prices

A lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department pressed a Google executive on Wednesday about techniques the search and advertising giant used to push up online advertising prices in an allegedly unfair way, reports ReutersDiane Bartz.

Testifying at a once-in-a-generation antitrust trial in Washington where the United States has accused Google of abusing its dominance of search and some advertising, Google executive Adam Juda said the company uses a formula, which includes the quality of an ad, to decide who wins auctions that are used to place advertising on websites.

The Justice Department has accused Google of manipulating online auctions – a multibillion dollar industry dominated by Google – with these formulas to favor its own bottom line.

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News Brands

Stop press: UK’s Sun and Daily Mail owners to combine printing operations

The owners of the Times, Sun, Daily Mail and i newspapers are to combine their printing operations amid declining daily sales in a cost-cutting move that could affect hundreds of jobs, reports The Guardian’s Mark Sweney

The move by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), which will potentially lead to the closure of printing sites at Thurrock in Essex and Dinnington near Sheffield, will result in all national newspaper printing being handled by only two conglomerates.

The new joint-venture will print titles including the Telegraph, Evening Standard and Financial Times, which shut its own presses last year, as well as Metro, titles for the regional publisher Newsquest, New Scientist and John Lewis.

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Spotify makes audiobooks free for premium subscribers

Spotify is broadening its audiobooks offering by giving all paid subscribers 15 hours of listening per month, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Caitlin Huston.

Rather than purchase audiobooks à la carte, premium subscribers will be able to open the app and opt to listen to more than 150,000 audiobooks from all the major publishers that will be offered as part of the Spotify subscription.

The offering will be rolled out to the U.K. and Australia on Tuesday, with other markets, including the U.S., expected to launch this winter. As of its latest earnings, Spotify has more than 220 million paid subscribers.

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Netflix plans to raise prices after actors strike ends

Netflix plans to raise the price of its ad-free service a few months after the continuing Hollywood actors strike ends, the latest in a series of recent price increases by the country’s largest streaming platforms, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica Toonkel and Sarah Krouse.

The streaming service is discussing raising prices in several markets globally, but will likely begin with the U.S. and Canada, according to people familiar with the matter. It couldn’t be learned how much Netflix will raise prices by or when exactly the new prices will take effect. Netflix declined to comment.

Over the past year or so, the cost of major ad-free streaming services has gone up by about 25%, as entertainment companies look to bring their streaming platforms to profitability and lead price-conscious customers to switch to their cheaper and more-lucrative ad-supported plans.

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