Roundup: Fox settlement, Michael Schumacher AI interview, Sam Armytage

Michael Schumacher

Crikey, Paramount countersues Warner Bros Discovery, Kaimera, Ian “Dicko” Dickson

Business of Media

Fox settlement no reckoning for Murdoch

On the surface, Fox News got pummeled. Rupert Murdoch, its founder, agreed to a settlement of $US787.5 million ($1.2 billion), roughly two-thirds of Fox Corp’s net annual income, reports Nine Publishing’s Michael Grynbaum.

Fox News was embarrassed by revelations that its anchors privately despised former president Donald Trump. And Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology firm derided on Fox airwaves, declared victory on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) on the courthouse steps.

Yet for some Murdoch critics, the outcome of this landmark libel case fell short of something to celebrate.

“Rupert Wins Again,” declared Politico press critic Jack Shafer, who noted Murdoch’s long history of paying tens of millions of dollars to settle claims of phone hacking, workplace harassment and other ignominies.

“Country lost, democracy lost,” First Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus wrote in an email, predicting that Fox hosts Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo would be feted by conservatives as “heroes” who “stood up against the liberal world”.

Others lamented what they perceived to be a lost opportunity for a legal reckoning for the misinformation that has poisoned many Americans’ trust in the democratic process.

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As Dominion case settles, Crikey’s solicitor takes a holiday

Dominion’s spectacular $1.2 billion settlement with Fox News represents a hefty return on investment for its private equity owners, and a tactical (if humbling) back-down for the Murdochs and Fox News, reports Nine Publishing’s Myriam Robin.

It is only the first of three cases to embroil the world’s ruling media dynasty in controversy over its level of culpability for an attempted overthrow of the US government. The second, by another voting machine company about which Fox News aired erroneous claims, will surely be settled imminently.

The third, however, is in a different legal system, about a different matter, and of Lachlan Murdoch’s choosing. He filed a defamation suit in the Federal Court last August against Private Media and its gadfly online title Crikey after the latter referred to the Murdochs as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 insurrection (which they strenuously deny).

Perhaps it’s a sign of supreme confidence that Crikey‘s lead solicitor on the case, Marque Lawyers’ managing partner Michael Bradley, isn’t burning the midnight oil on strategy. He’s on holiday. His out-of-office response informs he is away until July 1, “lounging around Europe and not even pretending to work”.

“I do not feel bad about this,” the message continues. “Don’t worry, your email will be read and responded to and, if it really really needs my personal attention, that’s what it’ll get. After my siesta. Okay, ciao.”

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Michael Schumacher ‘sensational interview’ with Die Aktuelle magazine was with chatbot

A magazine has been criticised for publishing what purported to be the first interview with Michael Schumacher since he was paralysed in a skiing accident, but was in fact simply a conversation with an artificial intelligence program trained to imitate him, reports The Australian’s Oliver Moody.

The former Formula One star hit his head on a rock while skiing off piste in the French Alps in 2013. He was placed in an induced coma.

Although Schumacher, 54, has since regained consciousness, his family has been fiercely protective of his privacy, issuing only a handful of guarded remarks, including in an authorised Netflix documentary in 2021.

This made it all the more surprising when Die Aktuelle, a German gossip magazine, splashed a “world sensation” and “incredible” interview with Schumacher on its front page.

“My life has completely changed since [the accident]. That was a horrible time for my wife, my children and the whole family,” the interview, which was framed in a question-and-answer format, read. “I was so badly injured that I lay for months in a kind of artificial coma … I’ve had a tough time.”

Lower down, the text did indicate that all was not quite as it seemed. “There are in fact websites where you can have conversations with celebrities, but the answers are provided by artificial intelligence,” the piece read.

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Paramount countersues Warner Bros Discovery over South Park streaming rights

Paramount Global has filed a countersuit against Warner Bros Discovery Inc over the rights to stream South Park, the popular animated comedy featuring foul-mouthed children, reports Reuters’ Jonathan Stempel.

In a Wednesday night filing in a New York state court in Manhattan, Paramount is seeking to collect more than $52 million of license fees that Warner has allegedly refused to pay, and hundreds of millions of dollars that Warner still owes.

The litigation stems from Warner’s 2019 agreement to pay Paramount and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone more than $500 million for the exclusive right to stream more than 300 existing episodes and 30 new South Park episodes domestically on HBO Max.

Warner sued Paramount in February, claiming that Paramount attempted to circumvent that agreement by providing only 14 new episodes, and diverting other new South Park content to its Paramount+ streaming service.

In its response, Paramount denied that any breach occurred, and said Warner has “indicated” it will not pay more than $225 million of fees still owed.

It wants a judge to order Warner to pay those fees, plus the payments missed in December 2022 and March 2023.

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One agency’s $1.4m charity work, another’s ‘unlimited leave’

A $1.4 million, 148-working-hour charity partnership and a move towards unlimited annual leave scored second and third place in the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list for Media & Marketing, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

In the face of a culture of individual workers wanting more – wages soared during Covid-19 and major agencies offered free food, exercise and other perks, Sydney-based media agency Kaimera doubled down on giving back, and says it fuelled growth. The firm doubled from 20 people to nearly 40 last year.

“How do you keep your staff happy, particularly when you’ve gone through Covid? And to be honest with you, this is, I think, the biggest challenge – not just for us, but for every company in the world,” Nick Behr, founder and chief executive, says.

“Culture is everything … And the culture of what it used to be like when we started is very different to what it is now,” Behr says. “So having things that people will truly believe in, like charities, helping young people, makes a big difference.”

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See Also: Mediaweek Agency 50: Kaimera CEO Nick Behr looks back at how far the agency has come


“Life is good”: Sam Armytage on finding the balance

For much of her 8 years as co-host of Sunrise, Sam Armytage was rarely out of the public eye, reports TV Tonight.

Paparazzo pics, clickbait stories, speculation about her personal life…. and blowing up TV moments which invariably happen when you’re Live on air for over 17 hours a week.

Since stepping back from daily television, and marrying Richard Lavender, Armytage is happy to have found more balance and even a way to deal with unwelcome press.

“I lead a fairly quiet life in the bush and keep to myself, and then you sort of dip your toe back in when it comes back into television and it all flares up again. I guess that’s all part of it. I’m trying to make peace with the press attention,” she tells TV Tonight.

“It’s nice to have a husband to go through it with you. He says, ‘Wear it like a badge of honour, that they’re still interested!’”

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I’m A Celeb star Dicko spills on Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s exit

I’m A Celeb evictee Ian “Dicko” Dickson has spilled some behind the scenes gossip about this season’s biggest controversy: The fiery blow-up that made Kerri-Anne Kennerley quit the show after just three days, reports News Corp’s Nick Bond.

Dicko, Kennerley, MAFS star Domenica Calarco and radio host Woody Whitelaw were taking part in one of I’m A Celeb’s gross-out food challenges when KAK staunchly refused to participate.

Her continued refusal to take part in challenges – in which contestants win stars, translating to meals for their hungry campmates – was too much for Dom, who declared she had “never met anyone so selfish,” and insisted KAK had “literally no decency or respect.”

Speaking on-air on Kyle and Jackie O, Dicko revealed that viewers didn’t see the worst of the fight: He said that Dom flung the c-word at Kerri-Anne, who was “all class” in response.

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