Roundup: Emmy nominations, BBC presenter named, ABC drops defence

Emmy Awards emmy nominations

The Sun, AI-powered news reporting, Threads, Disney, Washington Post, Obligation for streamers

Business of Media

Veteran news anchor Huw Edwards named as BBC presenter in explicit images scandal

Veteran news anchor Huw Edwards was on Wednesday revealed by his wife as the BBC presenter accused of paying for explicit images but police said no criminal offence had been committed, reports the AFP.

Vicky Flind said in a statement that her husband was “suffering from serious mental health issues” and was now “receiving inpatient hospital care where he will stay for the foreseeable future”.

At the same time, the London Metropolitan Police issued a statement saying there was “no information to indicate that a criminal offence has been committed”.

The furore has been front page news and the lead story on radio and television news bulletins for six successive days, with frenzied speculation on social media about the star’s identity until the confirmation.

It comes after the BBC was rocked in recent years by scandals which saw some of their biggest names revealed as serial sex offenders.

Edwards, 61, is one of the most recognisable faces on UK television, and was the man entrusted with telling the world that Queen Elizabeth II had died.

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The Sun finds itself in line of fire over report on Huw Edwards

The Sun has faced many big controversies in its time. The tabloid’s reporting on Huw Edwards could soon be added to that list, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper is facing serious questions over its reporting and ethical standards, after it alleged Edwards paid a 17-year-old for explicit images – only for police to conclude there was no evidence to support this allegation of serious criminal wrongdoing.

Days later, his wife said Edwards is in a hospital dealing with “serious mental health issues” and the newspaper is rapidly backtracking on its original story. Extraordinarily, on Wednesday night the Sun insisted its initial claim that the presenter had given a young person “more than £35,000 since they were 17 in return for sordid images” was not a suggestion of criminal activity.

Instead, the newspaper blamed other media outlets for misinterpreting its reporting and leading to the police getting involved, saying: “We must also re-emphasise that the Sun at no point in our original story alleged criminality and also took the decision neither to name Mr Edwards nor the young person involved in the allegations.”

Even before the police had cleared Edwards of illegal behaviour, doubts started to emerge over the Sun’s key allegation that he bought pictures from a 17-year-old. The young person in question, now an adult aged 20, issued a statement on Monday their lawyer saying the allegations were “rubbish”.

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Sky News UK identifies the major ‘red flag’ around AI-powered news reporting

Sky News UK science and technology editor Tom Clarke had concerns when it was first suggested he create an AI reporter. Were his bosses asking him to put himself out of a job, asks Press Gazette’s Charlotte Tobitt?

He quickly found, however, that although the “robot” reporter – the face and voice of which was based on Sky News producer Hanna Schnitzer – was better in some ways than Clarke first expected, he could breathe easy for now.

Clarke told Press Gazette the AI-generated reporter was “definitely better than I thought… it was perfectly decent, but it didn’t have any flair, any spark”. Crucially, although it could identify problems and issues from the news it had been given for training purposes, it “can’t put its finger on why that problem is happening or anything like that, because it doesn’t have an awareness of the world around it”.

“We are a very long way from AIs having that,” he said. “So, I think that whole question about will it replace the human role there – absolutely not.”

Clarke created the AI reporter, which pitched stories to an AI editor in an AI feedback loop, with help from Norwegian Youtuber and coder Kris Fagerlie, using different versions of ChatGPT and other publicly available AI software. The results of the experiment have been published in a story but not otherwise used to generate any content for Sky News.

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Threads Review: How Meta’s new app stacks up against Twitter

When we — Brian X. Chen and Mike Isaac, both longtime tech journalists — got an assignment from our editor last week to review Threads, the new social network from Meta, it was like a blast from the past, report The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen and Mike Isaac.

Both of us have written about social networks for over a dozen years. In the last half dozen of those years, the social media landscape has been largely static — with the exception of the rise of the short-video app TikTok — and was dominated by Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook.

The arrival of Threads, which was spun out of Instagram and is aimed as a prime place for public, real-time conversations, shakes up that scene. While the new app could end up a fad, it could also be a potent threat to Twitter, which has retained its crown as a hub of conversation for more than a decade.

But how many of us will hang out on Threads? We wondered how we would take to it since one of us — Brian — is a casual Twitter user, and the other — Mike — is a longtime Twitter addict, which might affect our experience with Meta’s new app. Here’s what we found about Threads’ pros and cons and whether it might become a part of your life.

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Disney extends CEO Robert Iger’s contract through 2026

Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday said Chief Executive Robert Iger has agreed to stay on in his position through 2026, extending his second term as the company contends with challenges from its pivot to streaming, a box office slump and ongoing cost cuts, report The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint and Denny Jacob.

The entertainment giant’s board unanimously voted to extend Iger’s contract by two years. Its independent members said the extension provides continuity as the company’s transformation continues and provides more time to prepare a transition plan for CEO succession.

Iger, 72, returned to Disney in November after former CEO Bob Chapek, whom Iger selected as his successor, was ousted from the position last fall. At the time, Disney’s board said that Iger would stay for two years, setting its strategic direction while helping to pick a successor to lead the company longer term.

“There is more to accomplish before this transformative work is complete, and I am committed to seeing this through,” Iger said in a memo to Disney staffers Wednesday.

“Our progress will not be linear as we continue navigating a difficult economic environment and the tectonic shifts occurring in our industry. This is a moment that requires us to remain steadfast, strategic, and clear-eyed about the road ahead,” he said.

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News Brands

ABC drops defence in former commando Heston Russell’s defamation case to protect sources

The ABC has dropped its public interest defence in a defamation case brought by the former commando Heston Russell at the 11th hour after a federal court judge ordered the journalists to reveal their confidential sources, reports The Guardian’s Amanda Meade.

At a hastily convened interlocutory hearing on Wednesday night, the ABC’s barrister, Lyndelle Barnett, said the corporation was prepared to accept the consequences of dropping its defence and paying damages because the issue of protecting sources was paramount.

“This course has been taken because my clients do take their promises to sources very seriously,” Barnett said. “It’s not a course that’s been taken lightly, but it does demonstrate the significance of those promises to my clients.”

Russell is suing the ABC over two online news articles, a television news item and a radio broadcast that relate to the alleged actions in Afghanistan in 2012 of the November platoon, which Russell commanded.

After the hearing, the ABC said it had no choice but to uphold its commitment to protect sources and abandon its defence of proceedings.

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Washington Post hires revenue chief after leadership exodus

The Washington Post named former CNN and New York Times executive Alex MacCallum its new revenue chief, a step in rebuilding its top ranks in the midst of a shake-up of senior leadership, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell.

The company also hired Uber Technologies’ Vineet Khosla as its chief technology officer, the Washington Post announced earlier Tuesday.

The new hires come as publisher and former Chief Executive Officer Fred Ryan is due to leave on Aug. 1, the latest of a series of departures that left some of the company’s most senior roles vacant for months.

While Ryan is credited with the development of the Post’s digital-subscription business, the publisher’s traffic and subscriptions dropped after a surge during the Trump presidency and the start of the global pandemic.

The Post faces other challenges plaguing the publishing industry, including a softening ad market in an uncertain economy and a possible disruption from artificial intelligence.

“It is a hard business,” MacCallum said in an interview. “But I personally feel very strongly that where there is a consumer need, there is a business,” she said, adding that there is a need for quality news and information.

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Bartlett, Snook lead Australia’s Emmy charge as HBO’s Succession wrapped in nominations

Australia has scored a trove of nominations at this year’s upcoming Emmy Awards, but as Hollywood navigates the looming actors’ strike, joining the already striking writers, American television’s night of nights could be delayed until the end of the year or possibly early 2024, reports Nine Publishing’s Michael Idato.

US studios are in talks with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which stage the annual Emmy Awards, about how best to proceed if a strike by the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, proceeds this week. Best-case scenario predictions suggest that if the actors strike, they could be out until at least the end of the year.

According to US media reports, the academy is pushing for a November broadcast, while broadcaster Fox is said to prefer January. The problem with January is that it would push the Emmys into film awards season. Cancellation is also off the table, as the Emmys are marking a major anniversary this year – their 75th.

Whatever the outcome, the night will likely bring glory for the HBO series Succession, one of the most talked-about shows of the year, which scooped the pool of nominations. Among the other key nominees are the Star Wars series Andor, Netflix’s perennial favourite The Crown and two other HBO projects, The Last of Us and The White Lotus.

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‘Robbing Crocodile Dundee to pay for Forrest Gump’: Bryan Brown calls for reinvestment obligation for streamers

Australian actor and producer Bryan Brown AM has used his National Press Club address to call for an Australian content quota at streaming services that run their businesses locally, reports the ABC’s Mawunyo Gbogbo.

The federal government announced in January that major streaming services such as Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime would be required to invest revenue in the production of local content from mid-2024.

Brown said other countries such as Canada and France had already legislated that revenue that streaming companies got from their countries must funnelled into local production.

He said the same should be done in Australia, and the stories needed to be specifically Australian.

“I mean Australian stories, not stories filmed in Australia with American accents,” Brown told the press club.

“That is a cultural death.”

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