Roundup: Google libel battle, Dave Hughes to move, Brittany Hockley + more

radio Dave Hughes

• Murdoch emails, NBCUniversal, Free TV Australia, Time person of the year, drama report, Martha Kalifatidis

Business of Media

Google takes libel battle with gangland lawyer to High Court

Google has won the right to challenge a $40,000 defamation payout for a gangland lawyer in the High Court, saying it should not be held liable for an old news story that appeared in search results, reports AFR’s Michael Pelly.

The case, which turns on the liability of publishers for linked information, will be heard early next year after the court granted Google special leave to appeal.

The lawyer, Melbourne-based George Defteros, sued the internet giant in 2016 over a 2004 article in The Age that detailed his arrest on charges of conspiring to murder underworld identity Carl Williams and others. Those charges were dropped in 2005.

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Murdoch emails loom large in election lawsuits against Fox News

Did Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch influence Fox News’ coverage of claims about two voting technology companies — knowing that those claims were false? That has become a significant question in defamation lawsuits filed by Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems Corp against Fox News and its parent company Fox Corp (FOXA.O), reports Helen Coster and Jan Wolfe for Reuters.

The plaintiffs are asking for more than $4 billion in damages from the media giant, on-air talent such as Maria Bartiromo and guests including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, lawyers aligned with former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Smartmatic and Dominion are seeking communications from Fox Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, the company’s executive chairman and chief executive, to help prove that Fox News either knew statements it aired were false, or acted with reckless disregard for whether they were true or false.

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NBCUniversal taps Blackstone’s Jen Friedman to lead global communications

NBCUniversal has tapped Jen Friedman to lead global communications after the recent role change of former communications chief Hilary Smith, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s J. Clara Chan.

Friedman will join NBCU as executive vp communications on Jan. 10 from Blackstone, where she served as the managing director for public affairs at the investment management company, according to a message to staff on Tuesday from Adam Miller, NBCU’s exec vp and parent company Comcast’s chief administration officer.

The incoming executive will report to Miller and work closely with NBCU CEO Jeff Shell. She takes on a position previously held by Smith, who left the corporate communications role in October to oversee NBCU’s corporate social responsibility.

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News Brands

Free TV Appoints Natasha Eves as regulatory affairs manager

Free TV Australia has announced the appointment of Natasha Eves as regulatory affairs manager effective immediately.

Eves joins Free TV from SBS where she was the external affairs manager. She is widely respected in the broadcasting industry and has 15 years’ experience in Australian and international policy roles across media, cultural policy and the arts.

“I am delighted to have Natasha joining our Free TV senior team at a very important time for our industry and our audiences,” said Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair.

Eves said: “I have long admired the role that Free TV plays in public policy development for the Australian media sector, and I am thrilled to be able to contribute to this. I am particularly interested in ensuring that all Australians, no matter where they live or what their circumstances, have equal access to free local television services”.

Prior to joining SBS, Eves held senior roles at the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies. She holds a Masters Degree in Media Practice, a Bachelor Degree in Government and International Relations, and a Certificate in Disruptive Strategy from Harvard Business School.

Over the last 12 months Free TV has navigated the enactment of the News Media Bargaining Code, delivered a response to the Government’s Media Reform Green Paper, established new headquarters in North Sydney and launched the Free. For Everyone campaign.

“Natasha’s appointment completes the Free TV senior team and positions us very well to launch into what promises to be an issues-rich 2022,” Fair said.


Naming Elon Musk person of the year is Time’s ‘worst choice ever’, say critics

Time magazine’s decision to make Tesla billionaire Elon Musk its person of the year for 2021 has been criticised because of his attitude to tax, opposition to unions and playing down the dangers of Covid, reports The Guardian’s Martin Farrer.

Musk, who is also the founder and chief executive of space exploration company SpaceX, recently passed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the world’s wealthiest person as the rising price of Tesla shares pushed his net worth to around $300bn (£227bn).

The magazine emphasised that its annual acknowledgement was not an award, but rather, “recognition of the person who had the most influence on the events of the year, for good or for ill”. The award has previously been bestowed to popes, Ebola healthcare workers and Greta Thunberg but also Hitler and Stalin, who received it twice. In 1982, it went to “The Computer”.

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2Day FM’s Dave Hughes to move to Sydney to help breakfast show

A year after taking on one of the toughest jobs in Sydney radio, comedian Dave Hughes says he will finally be moving to the Harbour City, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

Hughes and Ed Kavalee have recorded the 2 Day FM breafkast show from their Melbourne base for most of the year, while co-host Erin Molan has been recording from the Sydney office.

“My wife freaked out about the whole thing and borders being shut, which made it really hard to be honest,” Hughes said. “The truth is I will be buying a property in Sydney in the next month or so and I will be up there a lot but we will still be splitting our time between Melbourne and Sydney. It is not ideal but if anyone does listen to the show, they will know that we are absolutely connected. I was up in Sydney for two months and couldn’t come home.”

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2020 / 2021 Drama Report

Last week Screen Australia released its annual Drama Report, which shows Children’s TV dropped by 56% in 2020 / 21 after the government suspended, then dropped, Children’s Drama sub-quotas, reports TV Tonight.

But there was a record spend on Australian film & TV production as foreign titles flocked to Australia during the pandemic.

It’s a record result that was welcomed with some caution by Screen Producers Australia and the Media & Entertainment Arts Alliance.

Meanwhile Australian drama series were down, but miniseries (a broad term) were up.

Here’s a closer look at the results.

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‘Get the hell out’: Aussies back MAFS star’s US crime claims

Aussie expats living in the US have backed Married at First Sight star Martha Kalifatidis after she complained about the “horrifying” crime wave in Los Angeles, reports News Corp’s Zoe Smith.

One traumatised Australian living in the US described California as “hell” after Kalifatidis told her Instagram followers she felt “unsafe” while on holiday in Los Angeles with her fiance, Michael Brunelli.

It come just days after the head of the Los Angles Police Department’s union issued an extraordinary warning to tourists to stay away from Los Angeles due to soaring levels of violent crime.

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Brittany Hockley says Nick Cummins ‘blamed her’ for backlash after The Bachelor

Former reality star Brittany Hockley is reflecting on the Bachelor finale nobody saw coming, opening up about how her ex Nick Cummins treated her in the wake of his infamous double-dumping, reports News Corp’s Bella Fowler.

Hockley was brutally dropped in the finale of Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins’ season of The Bachelor along with Sophie Tieman, resulting in no winner and a history-making season for the franchise.

Speaking to the Happy Hour podcast, Hockley has now revealed the Honey Badger “blamed her” for the viewer uproar over his admission that he hadn’t found love on the show.

“He wasn’t the greatest to me afterwards,” the 33-year-old podcast host said. “I think he blamed me a lot for the hate he got from Australia. I don’t think he was expecting Australia to hate him so much.”

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