Roundup: Crikey’s donation, First Dates back on Seven, Jason Akermanis

Crikey peter fray

Elon Musk, Hollywood studios, Streaming ad tiers, Who will replace Ita?

Business of Media

Crikey: What the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom will do with your half a million dollars

When Australians open their phones or laptops to confront the firehose of news and information pouring out, it can seem that the problem is too much media freedom, rather than too little, reports Crikey’s Peter Greste.

See Also: Crikey! Lachlan Murdoch pays $1.3 million to Private Media 

But in 2019, when the Australian Federal Police raided journalists from two news organisations searching for evidence of the sources of two stories, The New York Times suggested “Australia may well be the world’s most secretive democracy”.

To make its case, the newspaper pointed to a sweeping array of national security laws — 92 passed since 9/11 alone, and more than any other country on earth — including many that criminalise what would otherwise be regarded as legitimate journalism elsewhere.

Some of those laws expose journalists’ data and sources to overbearing investigation, others risk putting legitimate whistleblowers behind bars, and together they severely restrict transparency and accountability across the government.

[Read More]

Elon Musk to strip headlines off news links on Twitter in latest overhaul

Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, is poised to rework how news links appear on the platform, the latest change spearheaded by its owner, Elon Musk, to impact news publishers on the site, reports The Guardian’s Kari Paul.

The news was first reported by Fortune on Monday and confirmed in a post from Musk later in the day: “This is coming from me directly. Will greatly improve the esthetics [sic],” he wrote. The platform will no longer display headlines and other text from news links and show only the main image, limiting a user’s ability to see the contents before clicking.

Currently, news links come up on the timeline of users as “cards” along with an image, source address and an abridged headline. Such a packaging helps draw clicks and helps publishers gain readers.

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Hollywood studios make public their latest offer to striking writers

The coalition representing Hollywood studios and streaming services made what it believes to be its best offer to striking writers Tuesday evening, releasing the terms of its latest contract in the hopes of persuading the Writers Guild of America to accept the deal, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint.

Among the concessions the studios said they offered are a guaranteed minimum length of employment, controls around the use of generative artificial intelligence, wage and residuals increases and quarterly reports on viewing hours per title for streaming shows.

The move came after a Tuesday evening face-to-face meeting between industry executives and the leadership of the WGA. The strike is approaching its fourth month and if a deal isn’t reached soon, the 2023-2024 television season and many high-profile movies are likely to be delayed or scrapped altogether.

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Why streaming services are pushing subscribers to ad tiers

On Disney’s last quarterly earnings call Aug. 9, CEO Bob Iger waited until the end of his opening remarks to drop the hammer: His company’s streaming business was introducing price increases. Big ones. The monthly cost of the Disney+ and Hulu ad-free tiers would be rising by nearly 30 percent, or $3, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

For a company desperately trying to turn its money-losing streaming business into a moneymaker, the pivot marked a critical strategic shift in its path to profitability. However, Iger added that “maintaining access to our content for as broad an audience as possible is top of mind for us, which is why pricing for our stand-alone ad-supported Disney+ and Hulu offerings will remain unchanged.”

Price hikes are never subtle, but the move by Disney was the latest from a company in the streaming space to try and nudge consumers ever so slightly toward its advertising-supported tier.

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News Brands

Who will replace Ita at the ABC? You’re asking the wrong question

Here we go again. The usual suspects have been rounded up, the speculation about who is in and out of favour has begun, and the guessing game is under way. Now that Ita Buttrose has announced she is finishing up as ABC chair, who will the Albanese government choose to replace her, asks Alan Sunderland for Nine Publishing?

See Also: Ita Buttrose to step down as ABC chair in March 2024

Or to put it another way: how will the politics play out? Because it is unthinkable, based on history, that any government would pass up the chance to influence the supposedly independent and apolitical public broadcaster.

There are three good reasons why this time, the government of the day should butt out and let the panel recommend the best candidates, purely on merit, and then select one of those.

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First Dates returning to Seven

Dating series First Dates is headed back to Seven in 2024, and is on the hunt for participants, reports TV Tonight.

The series screened for four seasons on Seven from 2016 – 2020 before 10 broadcast a single season in 2022.

But now the show is seeking singles aged 18 and over who are genuinely looking for love.

“No competition, no eliminations – just a blind date. Where it goes from there is up to you!” says a casting notice from Warner Bros. Australia.

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Sports Media

Aker tees off over Bulldogs great’s ‘biased’ ABC appearance

Controversial former AFL star Jason Akermanis has lashed the ABC’s Four Corners investigation into why no AFL player has come out as gay as “very biased”, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The three-time premiership player and Brownlow medallist with the Brisbane Lions moved to the Bulldogs later in his career and appeared on Monday night’s program which highlighted a column he wrote 13 years ago published in the Herald Sun with the headline “Stay in the Closet”.

In the fallout from that Western Bulldogs great Bob Murphy says he was “disgusted” and “hurt” and Akermanis was soon booted from the club.

Akermanis told the Herald Sun he was unfairly labelled a homophobe and treated poorly by Murphy who he labelled “two-faced”.

“ABC is not fair and just like it’s supposed to be and show both sides. It was very biased,’’ Akermanis said.

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