Roundup: High Court ruling, Australian Survivor, SEN cricket rights + more


• Prime Media, Tony Whiting dies, News Corp Australia climate policy, Melissa Leong on Georgia Love, The Block, Love Island, AFLW, Bob Murphy

Business of Media

High Court rules media outlets could be liable for Facebook comments

The High Court has thrown out an appeal by media outlets including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, ruling that media outlets are legally responsible for comments published on their Facebook pages.

The appeal was launched after last year’s ruling that media outlets were liable for comments made on their pages about former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre detainee, Dylan Voller.

The ruling means that Voller can continue with his intention to take the media outlets to the New South Wales Supreme Court because of alleged defamatory comments that were left on their public Facebook pages. Voller will also have his legal costs reimbursed by the media outlets. 

In 2016, images of Voller hooded and strapped into a mechanical restraint chair were broadcast by Four Corners. The episode was the catalyst for a royal commission into the Northern Territory’s youth detention system.

In a statement, Voller’s legal team said: “This is a historic step forward in achieved justice for Dylan and also in protecting individuals, especially those who are in a vulnerable position, from being the subject of unmitigated social media mob attacks.

“This decision put responsibility where it should be; on media companies with huge resources, to monitor public comments in circumstances where they know there is a strong likelihood of an individual being defamed.”

Michael Miller, executive chairman at News Corp Australia said: “The decision by the High Court in the Voller case is significant for anyone who maintains a public social media page by finding they can be liable for comments posted by others on that page even when they are unaware of those comments. This highlights the need for urgent legislative reform and I call on Australia’s attorneys general to address this anomaly and bring Australian law into line with comparable western democracies.”

A Nine spokesperson said: “Nine recognises the decision of the High Court which makes news businesses liable for any post made by the general public on their social media pages as ‘the publisher’ of those comments.

“We are obviously disappointed with the outcome of that decision, as it will have ramifications for what we can post on social media in the future.”

The trolls will no longer have to be held to account

The most objectionable aspect of the High Court’s decision in the Dylan Voller defamation case is that it undermines the law’s ­ability to hold online trolls to account, reports News Corp’s Chris Merritt.

Instead, everyone who has a Facebook page is now considered to be the publisher of defamatory comments that are left on those pages without their knowledge or consent.

That means the High Court has exposed individuals and community groups with Facebook pages to an unknown potential liability for damage inflicted by online trolls.

This defies common sense, runs counter to the goal of cleaning up social media and cannot be allowed to stand. It is an affront to the principle that everyone is responsible for their own actions – not those of others.

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High court ruling in Voller defamation case puts media companies firmly in firing line

All eyes were on the high court on Wednesday morning when it delivered its decision in the Voller matter, which will have a significant impact on the defamation law landscape insofar as it relates to the liability of publishers for defamatory comments published by third parties, reports Guardian Australia’s Rebekah Giles.

In 2017 former Northern Territory youth detainee Dylan Voller successfully argued that media organisations are liable as publishers of third-party comments made in response to articles posted on their public Facebook pages.

The previous position was that persons could only be held liable as publishers after they were on notice of defamatory publications – a requirement that caused defamation lawyers in the digital age to pull their hair out as they tried to give proper notices to platforms and hosts whose locations were not obvious and processes incomprehensible.

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Antony Catalano increases stake in Prime Media, again

Real estate entrepreneur and regional media owner Antony Catalano has increased his stake in Prime Media Group for the second time in six months, pushing himself over the 20 per cent takeover threshold, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

Industry sources familiar with the transaction, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Catalano now holds a 22.9 per cent stake in the regional TV broadcaster, having bought more shares with his rich list business partner Alex Waislitz from WIN Corp billionaire Bruce Gordon.

Catalano and Waislitz are easily the largest shareholders in the company, which tried to merge with Seven West Media in 2019. The increase in ownership is a clear signal the pair still want to take over the company, the sources said.

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News Brands

Former AFR publisher Tony Whiting dies aged 69

The man who guided the commercial operations of The Australian Financial Review in the late 1980s, Tony Whiting, has died suddenly aged 69, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

Whiting, who joined what was then Fairfax Media in the early 1980s to launch the Good Weekend magazine before becoming publisher of the Financial Review in 1986, began his media career in 1980, joining The Bulletin as an advertising manager.

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Is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia really shifting away from ‘climate denialism’?

News Corp Australia, seen by many as the nation’s most enduring purveyor of climate science denial and a faithful backer of fossil fuels, is about to turn over a fresh green leaf, reports Guardian Australia’s Graham Readfearn.

At least that’s according to unconfirmed reports from Nine newspapers and the New York Times that say the Murdoch-owned outlets will launch a campaign next month backing a global net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.

But while News Corp itself has not confirmed the campaign, that has not stopped widespread speculation over the impact – or otherwise – of a pro-climate campaign from one of the country’s most divisive voices.

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MasterChef judge Melissa Leong slams Georgia Love after another offensive post

Georgia Love’s ex-Channel 10 colleague Melissa Leong has criticised the former Bachelorette after a second offensive social media post surfaced online this week, reports News Corp’s Mibengé Nsenduluka.

The MasterChef judge, who is Singaporean-Australian, expressed her disappointment on Wednesday and said she knows Love personally.

“‘Shop attendant or lunch?’” posted on a video of a cat in a Chinese restaurant by someone I know, who also happens to carry a fair amount of influence,” Leong wrote.

“Casual racism from nice people is possibly the most betraying and insidious kind.

“Not angry, just completely bummed that this video exists and that it isn’t the first joke of this kind made by her. Georgia, I really hope your remorse is real and that you grow in the right direction, because this stuff hurts more people, more than you think. We must be allies for each other for a better world for all.”

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Block host Scott Cam warns Tanya and Vito: ‘Worst I’ve ever seen’

The Block host Scott Cam has warned Tanya and Vito about a big problem – and this time, it’s not their cheating scandal, reports News Corp’s Nick Bond.

It appears the controversial pair haven’t been managing their finances on The Block: By week five, they’re more than $10,000 in debt, while other teams still have tens of thousands of dollars left to spend in their kitties.

“[You] do have some … budget issues. I’m not going to go crook on you, because I’m perplexed. I’m confused. There’s some really odd things going on, on further investigation of what you guys are doing,” Cam tells the couple during a walk-through with judge Darren Palmer.

Cam gives them an example of their “confusing” spending: An invoice for $2200 to be paid to a company that provided their door jambs – which Cam points out could’ve been sourced at no cost from the show’s sponsor, Mitre 10.

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Australian Survivor: “We are shooting again in Australia”

Filming for the next season of Australian Survivor is about to get underway, reports TV Tonight.

Host Jonathan LaPaglia told TV Tonight, “We are shooting again in Australia. I can’t reveal the location yet. And I can’t reveal what the theme is yet.

“But it is a them that has been done in the past in the US I can tell you that much. But I can’t say what it is yet.”

In August posters began circulating in Townsville for people in their 20s and 30s who were physically fit, enthusiastic and available from September 11 through to November 6.

Townsville Bulletin reported access to Big Bend and Echo Hole camping areas were restricted for three months for a television production project.

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Byron mayor kisses & makes up with Love Island

Love Island is proceeding with production at Federal, NSW after producers won favour from Byron Shire Council, reports TV Tonight.

Building had halted on the Love Island Villa after permits had not been approved and COVID-safe protocols had not been finalised.

But mayor Michael Lyon met with representatives of ITV Studios Australia and signed off on a production that would bring 200 crew members to the region and employ about 40 locals.

All crew members will be tested for the virus before they travelled to the region, adhere to a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival, and take COVID tests twice weekly during production.

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Sports Media

TV production business Rainmaker to deliver AFLW coverage to Seven

Rainmaker has been appointed by the Seven Network as the live free to air broadcast production partner for the 2022 NAB AFL Women’s (AFLW) competition which begins on January 6, 2022.

Rainmaker is the TV & content production arm of the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN), which is a long term radio broadcast partner of the AFL.

Rainmaker also delivers Sports Entertainment Network’s radio broadcasts via AFL Nation and has been broadcasting AFLW matches since the inaugural season.

With the sixth season of AFLW, Rainmaker adds to its coverage of women’s sport in Australia, alongside the WNBL. Rainmaker is also the production partner of Bowls Australia, Softball Australia, and Hockey Australia.

Richard Simkiss, chief executive officer of Rainmaker, said: “To play a small role in making the game accessible and entertaining, reporting on the big game moments, and telling the stories of some of these incredible women is really exciting.

“AFLW has gained momentum over the last few years and the Rainmaker team can’t wait to expand on this vision in 2022, making it the best experience possible for fans.”

1116 SEN drive co-host Bob Murphy leaving radio for role at Dockers

Bob Murphy has announced he will be leaving his role at SEN to take up the Head of Football Operations and Performance position at the Fremantle Football Club, reports the SEN website.

The former Western Bulldogs captain will finish his post as co-host of SEN Drive with Bob & Andy in mid-October before moving with his family to Perth to take up the role with the Dockers.

“I am really excited,” he told his co-host Andy Maher on SEN’s Bob & Andy.

“The magnetic pull of footy just got stronger and stronger.

“I’ve loved doing this, I really have. Everyone told me when I went into media that it was not a team game.

“I do mean this sincerely, but I’ve loved the team and the little world we’ve built. I’ve loved just about every minute of it.”

Murphy will link up with ex-Dogs teammates Simon Garlick (CEO) and Matthew Boyd (assistant coach) at the Dockers.

Murphy was also a regular contributor for Garry Lyon and Tim Watson on SEN Breakfast before becoming a central figure at the network alongside Maher in 2019.

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SEN secures ANZ cricket radio rights for Women’s World Cup and Men’s T20 World Cup

Sports Entertainment Network has landed a double World Cup coup, securing cricket radio rights across Australia and New Zealand for two separate World Cups coming in the next eight months.

SEN and SENZ have confirmed they have secured exclusive commercial radio rights for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, to be played in New Zealand next March and April.

The two networks will also broadcast the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup from the UAE across Australia and New Zealand. That tournament begins on October 23rd, 2021.

The move complements the forthcoming summer of cricket across two countries for SEN and SENZ.

Australian audiences will hear the Ashes coverage of Australia versus England, while the Big Bash League coverage will be heard across both countries.

Sports Entertainment Network chief operating officer Jodie Simm said the opportunity to broadcast the women’s World Cup was a great honour.

“The upcoming tournament in New Zealand in March and April will be nothing short of spectacular, and a huge honour for New Zealand as the host nation,” Simm said.

“With both New Zealand and Australia, as previous winners, out to dethrone England who won back in 2017 it promises to be a wonderful series to showcase the best women’s cricketers in the world.

“And the men’s T20, featuring the world test champions New Zealand and an Australian team desperate to play some high level cricket, it will be a fantastic tournament.

“We can’t wait to bring it to audiences across our entire 50+ station network in Australia and New Zealand and on the SEN and SENZ app.”

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