Roundup: Jock Zonfrillo, WIN’s grant money, ABC’s social media policy + more

• News Corp job cuts, Crunchyroll, Mel Doyle, Survivor, and the Olympics

Business of Media

News Corp to axe more jobs from newsroom

News Corp Australia has taken an axe to its newsrooms and plans to make up to 25 editorial positions redundant, report SMH’s Stephen Brook and Samantha Hutchinson.

An internal memo seen by CBD says the company’s broadsheet flagship The Australian will lose 10 positions, six from NSW and four from Victoria, while Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph will lose two positions and the company’s news network will lose three positions.

Ten positions will go from the company’s regional and community divisions including jobs in Geelong, Hobart, regional Queensland, northern NSW and South Australia.

“These changes arise from the company strategy to continue to best position our business for future growth and to ensure we reposition our resourcing needs to these growth areas,” the memo says.

The company declined to comment.

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Calls for broadcaster WIN to hand back $4.5m grant after axing staff, programs

Regional broadcaster WIN has not been penalised for shedding up to 20 staff and axing nine local TV news bulletins months after receiving $4.5m in journalism grants, reports Guardian Australia‘s Amanda Meade.

The government handed out $50m in public interest news gathering grants (Ping) to more than 100 regional newspapers and broadcasters last June to help deal with severe declines in advertising revenue because of Covid-19.

The Ping grants were given on the condition that applicants maintain “existing levels of journalism production and distribution during the grant period”.

Last month one of the grant recipients, WIN, dropped nine local TV bulletins, the biggest drop the television sector has seen since the beginning of the Australian Newsroom Mapping Project in January 2019.

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ABC makes changes to social media rules for staff

ABC staff have been sent a stern warning about social media ­behaviour after the public broadcaster conceded it has been forced to deal with a “few high-profile defamation cases” involving senior journalists, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

The ABC has been plagued by problems with editorial staff sharing, “liking” posts or making comments online and staff have now been instructed that if they breach the new guidelines, they could face termination.

Three senior ABC journalists, Four Corners’ executive producer Sally Neighbour, the program’s investigative reporter Louise Milligan and political journalist Laura Tingle, are among those who have been under scrutiny in the past year for their online posts.

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Sony completes $1.2B acquisition of Crunchyroll from AT&T

Sony has completed its nearly $1.2 billion acquisition of the anime streaming service, Crunchyroll, from AT&T, the company said on Monday, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s J. Clara Chan.

The acquisition, which was first announced in December, brings Crunchyroll to Funimation, a joint venture between Sony Pictures and Sony Music’s Aniplex. With Crunchyroll housed under Funimation, Sony will now be able to expand its status in the anime industry and reach Crunchyroll’s 5 million subscribers and more than 120 million registered users.

Boasting over 1,000 anime titles and distribution rights for more than 30,000 episodes, Crunchyroll also comes with an extensive library and a gaming division that develops web and mobile games based on popular shows in English-speaking markets.

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Publisher adamant chef Jock Zonfrillo’s memoir stands up to scrutiny

The publisher of MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo’s memoir, Last Shot, says it stands by the book after a feature in Good Weekend on Saturday cast doubt on parts of the celebrity chef’s life story, reports SMH‘s Jason Steger.

Simon & Schuster’s managing director Dan Ruffino told this masthead he would consider taking legal action against Nine, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, if “we feel our sales prospects have been harmed by this article. We don’t speak on behalf of Jock – he’ll have his own reasons to take legal action or otherwise.” He said Zonfrillo was “very upset”.

Ruffino said the editorial process on Last Shot had been rigorous and there was nothing in the book that could not be proven.

“We work intimately with the writer and fact check everything. We see what’s on the public record, we pick up any inconsistencies and run anything legally contentious via lawyers. Obviously our industry is redhot on this stuff post Helen Darville and James Frey. It’s something we take very seriously.”

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Melissa Doyle to host Australia Behind Bars for Channel 9

Former Channel 7 host Melissa Doyle will host a new series on Channel 9, the broadcaster has confirmed, reports News Corp’s Mibengé Nsenduluka.

The former Sunrise star will host a new show called Australia Behind Bars, which takes a look at the impact of Covid-19 on correctional facilities.

But in a statement to Confidential, a Channel 9 spokeswoman said Doyle was not joining the network full-time.

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Georgia Jane Ray: Survivor star’s heartbreaking news after elimination

Georgia Jane Ray is grateful to be alive after her stint on reality show, Survivor Australia, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The 35-year-old forensic psychologist wasn’t aware she was pregnant at the time production started and doctors thought she was suffering an issue with her bowel when she was taken to hospital during filming.

Days after her elimination, which aired on Sunday night, Confidential can reveal the mother of two suffered an ectopic pregnancy.

“They can be fatal,” she said. “I am grateful to be alive and also in a state to be able to be there for my kids. I am lucky to go home when I did, that was divine intervention. If I had stayed out there, I could have possibly lost my life. I had no idea I had internal bleeding. I see myself as lucky.”

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Sports Media

The Olympics just showed why we can’t put a nation’s dreams behind a paywall

As the Delta variant shuts down east coast cities, state premiers butt heads and lockdowns bite, Australians required a beacon to bring them together, writes Greg Hywood for the SMH.

That beacon has been the free-to-air broadcast of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Millions of Australians have tuned in to catch the Games, delivered to every Australian live and free courtesy of the Seven Network.

As the events of the last two weeks again proved, this list of iconic sporting events has never been more important. In fact, now is the time to broaden the protections for viewers to ensure that it covers not just subscription television paywalls, but also ensures that our sporting triumphs are not hidden on streaming services.

This is a real and present danger. The current anti-siphoning legislation prevents cable operators putting these iconic events behind a paywall but does nothing to prevent global players like a Netflix, Amazon and Apple or local telcos Telstra and Optus from doing so.

Sports compete intensely for talent and profile and require more and more money to do so at a time when the economics of sports rights are changing. The AFL has reportedly held talks with the global players and there is nothing in the current law to prevent the Grand Final becoming the exclusive preserve of a streamer once current contracts expire.

Free TV has been in regular contact with the government on the matter but has had no indication this substantial loophole in the legislation will be closed.

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