Roundup: Gladiators makes a comeback, The Matildas, Netflix

Gladiators 1995

Meta, Fifi Box, Patricia Karvelas to host Q&A, Home and Away

Nick Clegg defends release of open-source AI model by Meta

Nick Clegg has defended the release of an open-source artificial intelligence model by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, as he claimed that “hype” about AI’s dangers was running ahead of the technology’s development, reports The Guardian’s Dan Milmo.

The president of global affairs at Meta and former UK deputy prime minister spoke on Wednesday after the company said it was opening access to its new large language model (LLM), Llama 2, which will be free for research and commercial use. LLMs are trained on vast amounts of data and underpin generative AI products such as the ChatGPT chatbot.

Some experts have warned that making AI models open source – or freely available to use and adapt for unique purposes – could lead to the technology being used for malicious purposes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Clegg said: “My view is that the hype has somewhat run ahead of the technology. I think a lot of the existential warnings relate to models that don’t currently exist, so-called super-intelligent, super-powerful AI models – the vision where AI develops an autonomy and agency on its own, where it can think for itself and reproduce itself.

“The models that we’re open-sourcing are far, far, far short of that. In fact, in many ways they’re quite stupid.”

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Netflix gains more new subscribers than expected following password-sharing crackdown

Netflix added 5.9 million new subscribers in the last three months – almost three times as many as analysts expected – after clamping down on households that were sharing their passwords, reports The Guardian’s Dominic Rushe.

The streaming giant is the first of the big tech and media companies to unveil their latest quarterly results. The figures come as strikes from writers and actors have hit the industry – the first time both unions have walked out since the 1960s.

Announcing its latest quarterly finances, Netflix said it had made a profit of $1.8bn over the quarter on revenues of $8.3bn. Analysts had expected Netflix to add around 2m new households over the last three months as people who had shared the service for free opted to pay for their own accounts. Netflix now has 238m subscribers globally.

Some analysts have argued that Netflix is better positioned than its traditional media peers to weather the strike. Last year the company lost subscribers for the first time in its history. It has since begun to pick up subscribers again and at the start of the year announced a crackdown on password sharing.

According to the company more than 100m households have been participating in password sharing.

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Netflix removes “basic” ad-free plan in US and UK

Netflix has removed its $9.99 advertising-free “Basic” plan in the US and UK, a move that would push new subscribers to sign up for more lucrative subscription options for the streaming giant, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

A visit to Netflix’s sign-up page Wednesday morning showed only three options for new subscribers: its $6.99 “Standard With Ads” tier, $15.49 “Standard” plan and $19.99 “Premium” plan, the latter two of which are ad-free.

In an FAQ on its sign-up page, the company wrote that “the Basic plan is no longer available for new or rejoining members. If you are currently on the Basic plan, you can remain on this plan until you change plans or cancel your account.”

In other words, for current Basic plan subscribers, they can keep that plan for now, with the new changes only applying to new or returning subs.

A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

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Fifi Box gets emotional on air after driver’s license suspended for six months

Fifi Box has lost her driver’s licence for six months following three consecutive driving infringements, reports News Corp’s Christine Estera.

The radio personality shared her ordeal this morning on her Hit breakfast program Fifi, Fev & Nick, expressing her dismay with co-hosts, Brendan “Fev” Fevola and Nick Cody.

According to Box, she went 6km/h over the speed limit several days in a row and has been stripped of her licence.

“I went over my demerit points, which is a silly thing,” she said. “I went through the tunnel three days in a row. I saw the red light camera, and then there was another one, and they added up and I lost my licence for six months.”

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Iconic ’90s Show Gladiators to be Revived in Australia

Gladiators is set to return to TV screens in Australia. The iconic battle program first aired in Australia on the Seven Network across 70 episodes from April 1995 to October 1996. It involved permanent competitors, known as Gladiators, taking on the one-time Challengers, including obstacle courses and battles with hammerheads on suspension bridges, reports Variety Australia’s Vivienne Kelly.

A further 15-episode run was on Seven in 2008.

It’s not yet clear where the revived series will screen, but production company Warner Bros. is actively recruiting participants who are “at the peak of their physical fitness to take on the new generation of Gladiators”. The production company has flagged Challengers will need “speed and skill” to take on the new Gladiators.

Would-be contestants need to be aged over 18, with the terms and conditions revealing Warner Bros. has a preference for those aged “between 18-80”.

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Patricia Karvelas to host Q&A return

Patricia Karvelas will return to host Q&A when it resumes on ABC next Monday night, reports TV Tonight.

Guests in the Melbourne studio include UK Minister of State for Armed Forces James Heappey, Filmmaker Rachel Perkins and Independent Member for Curtin Kate Chaney.

It isn’t yet clear if Karvelas will stay in the hosting role for the remainder of the year.

Stan Grant stepped down from the show in late May seeking a break from media.

News Director Justin Stevens told a Senate Estimates hearing “He’s taken leave for around eight weeks.”

ABC sources indicated there was no update on his return to the show as yet.

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‘This isn’t a competition’: Friends for decades, trio are now vying for a coveted Logie

In its 35-year history, spanning more than 8000 episodes, the nightly soap opera Home and Away has clocked up an impressive 48 Logies from more than 170 nominations (Plus three AACTA awards, seven Directors’ Guild awards and 14 Writers’ Guild awards), reports Nine Publishing’s Michael Idato.

“Those numbers make me think of the work that is required to achieve that, from all the departments and the writers and directors,” says Emily Symons, who has for 34 years – less the eight years in the early noughties she spent on the UK soap Emmerdale – played Summer Bay’s dizzy but lovable Marilyn Chambers.

“Where would we be without the people who work so hard to tell our amazing stories, the creatives, the crew, the long days?” Symons says. “Nobody realises how hard it is to make a television program like Home and Away, so it makes me very proud to hear numbers like that. Those are incredible numbers.”

This year Symons, 53, and her co-stars Lynne McGranger, 70, and Ada Nicodemou, 46, who play Pier Diner co-owners Irene Roberts and Leah Patterson, are hoping to add three more to that stash.

The three women, who have been colleagues and friends for more than two decades, are all nominated in the most popular actress category at this year’s 63rd Annual TV Week Logie Awards. (The other nominees are Celeste Barber for Wellmania, and Julia Zemiro and Kitty Flanagan for Fisk.)

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Sports Media

The key money metric where women outshine the men

The Matildas are beating the Socceroos in the lucrative competition for merch, reports Nine Publishing’s Patrick Durkin.

The Australian women’s team have sold more official jerseys ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup than the men’s team managed during and since the male equivalent tournament last year, says Nike, a major sponsor of both sides. And they haven’t even played a game yet.

Nike Pacific boss Ashley Reade said the marketing potential for the women’s team is now greater than the men’s. A big part of that is due to the star power of Sam Kerr, the Australian skipper and Chelsea striker who Reade says is arguably one of the biggest athletes in the world.

Nike is a major sponsor of the CommBank Matildas and also sponsor Kerr individually in a deal reportedly worth as much as $1 million.

The sportswear giant gifted boots to Kerr when she was 16, and she signed on with Nike as a contracted athlete three years later. Now 29, Kerr is the global face of Nike’s Mercurial boots, alongside male star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.

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