Roundup: Facebook, Supercars TV deal, Bruce McAvaney + more

WIN affiliate deal, Nine deputy chairman under investigation, James Campbell, Andrew Bolt, Mick Gatto, Schapelle Corby. Nine Radio, Pete Evans, Ray Warren, and UEFA Champions League

Media Code

Facebook deals stall over ‘poison pill’ as it hints at News tab launch

Facebook is expected to launch its dedicated news product in Australia once it completes deals with local publishers, but those agreements are stalling over the “poison pill” clause, AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Facebook News pays publishers for content that will appear in a dedicated section within the Facebook app – similar to Google’s News Showcase product – which is likely to be part of deals with local publishers.

However, the sources suggest deals are again stalling over Facebook’s “poison pill” clause, allowing the social giant to blow up a deal at any time. The clause is understood to be a more watered-down version than what has previously been presented to publishers.

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Striking deal with tech giants will deliver for media and democracy

No one should be in any doubt — Australia’s new bargaining code for digital platforms represents one of the most momentous developments for media in this country, writes News Corp’s executive chairman Michael Miller

Those so swift to criticise the code as a victory for big business and pandering by government to old media forces are wrong and missing the point.

Last Friday’s announcement that Facebook has signed letters of intent for commercial agreements with three small, independent publishers — Private Media, Schwartz Media and Solstice Media – demonstrates starkly that we are witnessing a welcomed turning point.

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Competition policy sealed media bargaining code deal with tech giants

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says Australia’s decision to treat the news media bargaining code as a competition policy issue, rather than a copyright matter, was one of the key drivers in getting the legislation across the line, with overseas countries now seeking to do the same, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

Fletcher said the “competition approach was a well-established policy tool” in Australia when dealing with industries where bargaining power imbalances existed.

Several ministers from countries including Canada, France, Germany, Finland and the UK, have contacted Fletcher to discuss Australia’s strategy in legislating a mandatory news media bargaining code, in addition to the conversations that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had with heads of state including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Canada’s leader Justin Trudeau.

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How Facebook and Australia became friends again

Five minutes before question time in Parliament on Tuesday and after days of back-and-forth negotiations, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg rang Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg for one final WhatsApp chat, reports AFR‘s John Kehoe.

In the wake of Facebook’s shock blacklisting of local news pages and following more than a dozen calls, Frydenberg wanted confirmation from the social media network founder – worth $100 billion – that they had reached a compromise and Facebook would reboot its full services.

Frydenberg had deliberately engaged one-on-one with Zuckerberg to short-circuit the “lawyers at 50 paces”.

He set Zuckerberg a deadline of Tuesday to agree to changes, coinciding with the Coalition’s joint party room meeting to sign off on legislation. It went down to the wire, but the investment banker-turned-politician and the tech titan finally agreed to a deal. Frydenberg even joked to Zuckerberg he had been speaking with him more than his wife.

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Why Facebook accepted Australia’s request

The final word from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came minutes before Treasurer Josh Frydenberg rushed into question time in Parliament on Tuesday, reports SMH‘s David Crowe and Zoe Samios.

The Silicon Valley billionaire knew he had a deadline to meet. No matter how much he disliked Australia’s news media bargaining code for tech platforms, he was told the Morrison government would make it law within days. Zuckerberg had to choose whether to take a deal or go to war.

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Hopes Google, Facebook deals will underpin a rise in journalism jobs

Media companies are facing mounting calls to explicitly commit to using the money sealed through landmark deals with Google and Facebook to invest in newsrooms and journalism jobs, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Following intense negotiations over the government’s media bargaining code, the country’s biggest media companies – Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead), News Corp Australia, Seven West Media and Guardian Australia – have in recent weeks signed multimillion-dollar agreements for their content with Google. Seven, Private Media and Solstice Media and Schwartz Media have signed agreements with Facebook and others are expected to soon follow.

But as yet, just how media companies plan to spend this money, if and when the agreements become legally binding, remains unclear.

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Business of Media

Nine in talks to return to Bruce Gordon’s WIN in regional areas

Nine Entertainment Co has declined an offer to renew its affiliate deal with Southern Cross Media Group and will hold talks with Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corporation before making a final decision on how programs such as Married at First Sight and The Block will be broadcast to regional communities, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

The television, radio and publishing company started talks with Southern Cross in early January about extending the current agreement to broadcast Nine’s television programs in regional areas. That exclusive period expired on Sunday and Southern Cross has not secured a new arrangement, which means that WIN Corp can now enter negotiations.

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Nine deputy chairman Nick Falloon under investigation over whistleblower claims

The deputy chairman of Nine Entertainment Co and one of the most prominent media figures in corporate Australia, Nick Falloon, is being investigated by his own company over allegations he allowed his son to use a corporate membership at a prestigious northern Sydney golf club, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Nine received an anonymous email in early February accusing Falloon, who is also the chairman of online property group Domain, of giving his son Troy Falloon access to a corporate golf membership at Terrey Hills Golf and Country Club from the middle of 2018, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The corporate membership was held through Domain which was 60 per cent owned by Fairfax Media until a $4 billion merger in late 2018. Falloon was the chairman of Fairfax before the merger.

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News Brands

James Campbell to write for News Corp Australian weekend newspapers

Walkley Award-winning journalist James Campbell has been appointed National Weekend Political Editor for the News Limited weekend newspapers in each Australian state.

Campbell said he was looking forward to the new role, starting this week.

“I’m really excited to be given this opportunity to speak to the biggest newspaper audiences in Australia about the issues that matter to them,’’ he said.

Campbell had been Investigations Editor for the Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun. He was formerly National Political and State Politics Editor.

In 2013 Campbell was awarded the Walkley Award for Scoop of the Year for revealing secret recordings that led to the resignation of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.

He also won the Gold Quill from the Melbourne Press Club in 2013.

Saturday and Sunday Herald Sun editor Nick Papps said: “James has a history of breaking the big stories that matter in print and online, and this is a terrific appointment.

“Federal politics has never been more important and James’ focus will be delivering the stories that matter to the people of Victoria and Australia, and breaking them first.

“With an election expected in the next year, the vaccine rollout, Covid recovery, climate change and so many households facing real financial pain, it has never been more vital to have an experienced, proven news breaker covering federal politics for our readers.

“James knows what matters to our readers.”

Campbell has been a strident critic of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews. In a column on the weekend in the Herald Sun, Campbell wrote:

“At the time of the second lockdown last August, when it was clear that hundreds of people were dying because his government had screwed up hotel quarantine, I wrote that Andrews must know in his heart of hearts that there was no getting out from under this, some disasters are just too big.

“I was wrong. Not for the first time I should add.

“Here we are six months and another lockdown later the Premier is up and about.

“Nobody seems to think Labor is in any danger of losing the next election.

“Meanwhile the scandals roll on.

“Once upon a time the news of a royal commission into Crown casino would have been big news.

“Instead, it felt like just another day in Dan’s Victoria. He didn’t even bother turning up for the announcement.”

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Andrew Bolt’s ‘virus thrives in multiculturalism’ columns offensive, press council says

Andrew Bolt has received a rap over the knuckles from the Australian Press Council for attributing the spread of the coronavirus in Melbourne to multiculturalism. Two columns were found to have breached two press council rules: one for ensuring that factual material is balanced and fair and one for not causing substantial offence, distress or prejudice, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

In June last year the Herald Sun columnist wrote: “Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak exposes the stupidity of that multicultural slogan ‘diversity makes us stronger’. Oh, really? It’s exactly that diversity – taken to extremes – that’s helped to create this fear of a second wave.”

He said Australia had a “lethal” problem in an emergency like the coronavirus because we were was becoming “a nation of tribes” with no common language.

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Mick Gatto’s ABC defamation claim rejected

Melbourne underworld figure Mick Gatto has lost his defamation case against the ABC over an article he claimed imputed he was a hit man, reports News Corp’s Tessa Akerman

The article published online in 2019 quoted a police officer alleging Gatto had threatened to kill Nicola Gobbo if he discovered the gangland lawyer was a police informant.

Gatto took the national broadcaster to the Victorian Supreme Court claiming the article imputed he had threatened to kill Gobbo, he had organised murders in the past and was responsible for the murders of Victor Peirce and Frank Benvenuto.

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Lag in ad spending rebound hits Nine’s radio business

The advertising spending rebound across television has largely bypassed the radio industry, devastating Nine Entertainment’s radio earnings, reports News Corp’s Lillly Vitorovich.

As big companies across banking and the automotive industry resume spending on national TV ad campaigns, medium to smaller advertisers have refrained, which has hurt radio companies.

Last week’s earnings results of Nine Radio — which consists of Sydney’s 2GB, Melbourne’s 3AW and Brisbane’s 4BC — plus HT&E’s radio business ARN and Southern Cross Media, underscored the ad recovery lag despite an increase in listeners during the coronavirus crisis.

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Pranksters’ cheeky swipe at Pete Evans over political aspirations

Controversial celebrity chef and anti-vaxxer Pete Evans has found himself at the centre of a prank over his political aspirations, which he revealed in a bizarre rant last weekend, reports News Corp’s Ally Foster.

The former My Kitchen Rules star recently announced his plans to run for the Senate as part of The Great Australian Party.

The Twitter account Chaser Interns, which is linked to satirist outlet The Chaser, revealed the prank on Friday.

“Thought we’d help Pete out by setting up a campaign site on his behalf,” the group wrote on Twitter, with a link to a website with the domain

But instead of providing information on Evan’s political run and how to support him, users are instead directed to the immunisation page on the Department of Health website, which states vaccines are a “simple, safe and effective”.

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Seven denies Schapelle Corby dancing because of 2014 interview deal

The Seven Network’s enduring love affair with Schapelle Corby — and her forthcoming appearance on Dancing With The Stars — has nothing to do with an exclusive post-jail interview the network negotiated with the Corby clan in 2014 triggering a raid on Seven by the Australian Federal Police, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

A spokesman on Saturday denied Seven was still extracting its pound of flesh for a rumoured lucrative deal — put at $2 million at the time though denied by Seven — following Corby’s release from a Bali jail for drug smuggling.

As veteran reporter Mike Willesee was sent to Bali to negotiate with the Corbys at the time, an AFP raid — which roped in then Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a personal friend of Seven lawyer Bruce McWilliam — searched for evidence Seven had paid Corby for her interview, an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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Sports Media

Seven strikes new Supercars deal after Kayo Sports stoush

Motorsports organisation Supercars has renegotiated its broadcast deal with Seven West Media, averting a potential legal stoush over a move by Foxtel’s Kayo Sports to make some events free for viewers, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract is confidential said Supercars had agreed to remove a requirement for Seven to generate a particular amount of money through sponsorship and advertising under a revenue sharing arrangement.

The renegotiation occurred after a legal letter was fired off to the Supercars by Seven over concerns that Foxtel’s decision to air popular races for free on its streaming service Kayo Sports was in breach of exclusivity provisions given to the free-to-air broadcaster in its new deal. The company also threatened to terminate its rights agreement.

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Ray Warren’s family plead for ring return after home invasion

Ray Warren’s family say they are “very hurt and disturbed” after the legendary broadcaster’s NRL Hall of Fame ring was stolen from his family home, but he remains hopeful the “irreplaceable” memento will be returned, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Adam Pengilly.

Warren, who earlier this month confirmed he had shelved retirement plans to call another season, described a home invasion he slept through in the early hours of Saturday morning as “a bit scary” as the hunt to find the ring escalated on Sunday.

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Bruce McAvaney to step back from AFL commentary at Seven in 2021

He has called more than a thousand games, including 20 Grand Finals, but the siren has finally sounded on Bruce McAvaney’s remarkable AFL commentary career, reports Sam Hussey from

While he will continue to be part of the 7AFL team, McAvaney won’t be in the commentary box for the 2021 AFL season.

The iconic broadcaster, who has been the voice of footy for decades, says stepping back was one of the toughest calls he’s ever had to make.

“I felt like I got to a stage in my career where I had to reduce my workload,” Bruce told 7NEWS.

“I’m going to miss it enormously, I just visualise when Richmond and Carlton run out there in round one, and the ball is bounced, I’m going to climb a wall somewhere.

“I’m going to have to move on and just be a fan like everybody else.”

During 2021 he will be leading Seven’s horse racing coverage, and McAvaney will again be behind the microphone for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I still feel like there’s a bright future, in a ridiculous way I feel like I haven’t reached my potential, I still want to get better, and that’s what I’m hoping to do over the next few years,” he added.

The rest of the 7AFL commentary team remains the same with James Brayshaw joining the Friday night crew alongside Brian Taylor, Luke Darcy, Wayne Carey, Daisy Pearce and Hamish McLachlan.

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Sydney start-up streaming service’s stunning $60m UEFA Champions League coup

A mysterious Sydney-based start-up that streams Indian baseball, Nicaraguan football and bare-knuckle boxing has beaten some of sports broadcasting’s biggest players to secure the exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League in Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.

Sports Flick – a streaming service that launched late last year and broadcasts predominantly fringe sports and football leagues with extremely niche local followings – has emerged as the shock winners of a blind auction-style tender process for the rights to the world’s most-watched club tournament, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

The UEFA Champions League had been a cornerstone of Optus Sport’s football offering but the telco, along with other competitors, was left stunned by Sports Flick’s bid, which sources suggest was about $60 million for a three-year period, starting in the 2021-22 season – a significant increase on the last deal.

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