Roundup: Bruce Lehrmann defamation case, FOI laws, BBC sued

Bruce Lehrmann

Stan Grant, Fremantle and Eureka restructure, ITV Studios Australia

Business of Media

Media companies call for independent FOI commissioner to ‘champion’ accountability

Australian news publishers have called for reforms to freedom of information (FOI) laws that would install a commissioner as “a champion” of “openness and accountability”, one separate from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, a Senate inquiry has heard, reports Crikey’s John Buckley.

The call was first outlined in the Right to Know coalition’s submission to a Senate inquiry (launched Monday) into the delays that plague the FOI system and the waning resourcing that led to former FOI commissioner Leo Hardiman KC’s resignation less than a year into the job.

The coalition, which represents Australian news publishers including AAP, Nine, Guardian Australia, News Corp Australia and The West Australian, among others, called for urgent reform to the system’s relevant legislation to be drafted by the end of June next year.

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Bruce Lehrmann defamation case: Network 10 lawyers seek to use evidence on rarity of false rape complaints

Lawyers for Network 10 will seek to lead expert evidence about the rarity of false rape complaints as it defends a defamation case launched by Bruce Lehrmann, reports The Guardian’s Christopher Knaus.

Meanwhile, Lehrmann’s legal team have flagged “lengthy” cross-examinations of Brittany Higgins and Lisa Wilkinson.

Lehrmann is currently suing Network 10, Wilkinson and the ABC over broadcasts he says defamed him by falsely alleging he raped Higgins in Parliament House on a couch in then-minister Linda Reynolds’ office.

A trial is expected to begin on 22 November in the federal court, which will see both Higgins and Lehrmann give evidence, the latter speaking about the night of the alleged rape for the first time in a courtroom under oath.

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ABC bosses investigated bullying complaint against Stan Grant

ABC management investigated a public bullying incident involving Indigenous presenter Stan Grant and a senior ABC colleague, which occurred in the foyer of the broadcaster’s Ultimo headquarters in full view of witnesses, report The Australian’s David Ross and Yoni Bashan.

Documents obtained by The Australian using the Freedom of Information Act reveal a complaint was lodged about Grant in the days after he allegedly erupted in a lengthy, expletive-laden tirade against the female ABC staff member.

Grant allegedly shouted at the woman, a longstanding colleague, for several minutes in front of dozens of ABC staff after she approached him with a question concerning production of a show.

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Fremantle, Eureka restructure labels, some staff to exit

A further merger of Fremantle Australia and Eureka Australia will result in staff departures and further restructuring of production divisions, reports TV Tonight.

Fremantle, led by CEO Greg Woods increased from a majority stake in Eureka to 100% in 2022. It will move from Drama, Documentary and Factual to Scripted content.

Eureka, which was responsible for Entertainment, Reality and Gameshows, now takes on all Unscripted shows.

A Eureka spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Fremantle Australia and Eureka Australia will integrate their key corporate functions including Legal, Finance, Facilities, IT and HR, in order to better support its businesses in the region.”

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Head of Factual & Reality departs ITV Studios Australia

Ben Ulm, Head of Factual & Reality at ITV Studios Australia, has departed after more than nine years, reports TV Tonight.

Ulm has overseen a prolific slate since 2014 including the launch of successful franchises I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Australia and The Chase Australia.

He also oversaw Keeping Australia Alive, Hell’s Kitchen Australia, Paddock To Plate, Plonk. As Head of Factual & Reality he helmed Keeping Australia Safe, Australia Behind Bars, Nurses, Who Gets To Stay In Australia, Inside Central Station, Life On The Outside, Inside Sydney Airport and SBS hit, Alone Australia.

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Man mistaken for tech expert to sue BBC over footage royalties

The BBC is to be sued by a man interviewed in a case of mistaken identity over a row about royalties, report The Telegraph’s Michael Murphy and Alex Barton.

Guy Goma became an internet sensation after staff at the UK’s public broadcaster confused him with a technology expert due to be interviewed about the threat of online music to the industry.

Goma had arrived for a job interview with the corporation’s IT department when he was ushered into the BBC news studio and quizzed about a legal battle between Apple computers and the Apple Corps record company.

But the 54-year-old computer technician has claimed that he has received no payment for the 2006 interview on BBC News 24, despite it being viewed millions of times over the past 17 years.

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