Roundup: Kennedy Awards, Big Bash League, Twitter

bbl Big Bash League

Lachlan Murdoch, Meta, AFR, Steve Price, A Current Affair

Lachlan Murdoch seeks to expand Crikey defamation claim

Lachlan Murdoch’s legal team is trying to expand the scope and scale of its defamation case against Crikey publisher Private Media, applying to file a new statement of claim days before the case is set for mediation, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Murdoch, the CEO and executive chairman of Fox Corporation, is suing Private Media over an article that linked his family to the January 6 Capitol attacks in the US. The Crikey article ran with the headline “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator”, and went on to say the Murdochs and “poisonous” Fox News commentators contributed to the crisis.

The case is due to go to mediation this Wednesday but has been set down for a new hearing on Thursday, December 22, when Murdoch’s legal team will put the new statement of claim before Justice Michael Wigney.

A Federal Court spokesman said the new claim adds two new defendants to the defamation suit. Murdoch has already named Private Media, the article’s author and Crikey political editor Bernard Keane, and its editor-in-chief Peter Fray in the lawsuit.

There’s no guarantee Justice Wigney will accept the new statement of claim, which threatens to delay the blockbuster defamation case by months. The original claim was filed in late August and was due to go to a hearing over nine days in March next year.

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NSW’s Kennedy Foundation reveals major change to awards criteria

One of the nation’s most prestigious journalism awards foundations is introducing a surprise new criteria for entrants, following recent legal controversies relating to stories that have been nominated for prizes, reports The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth

The Kennedy Awards, held annually in Sydney, has announced that the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s code of ethics will apply to all future awards. But, inexplicably, the Kennedy Foundation refused to answer questions as to why the industry’s code of ethics didn’t previously act as a basic benchmark for entries to the awards, despite repeated inquiries from The Australian.

A note to journalists from the Kennedy Foundation last week stated that a thorough examination of “all our award eligibility criteria” was underway to “make sure they adequately reflect the fundamental ethical frameworks of a profession at its best”.

“We have adopted the MEAA Code of Ethics and all entries in the Kennedy Awards will be expected to adhere to that code,” the foundation’s newsletter said.

Under the ethics code, journalists must commit to “honesty, fairness, independence and respect the right for others”.

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Meta threats fail to derail US news bargaining laws

US Congress could still pass laws that would force tech giants into commercial negotiations with small news outlets despite heavy-handed threats by Meta to pull news off Facebook if the legislation is passed, reports Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios

Danielle Coffey, executive vice-president of the US-based News/Media Alliance, said she did not believe the US Congress was spooked by Meta’s threats this month to shut down news, and is optimistic the bargaining laws, known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), could be passed in the lame-duck session, which ends on January 3.

The News/Media Alliance represents 2000 newspapers in the US and Canada and has lobbied lawmakers to pass legislation that would force tech giants into commercial negotiations for use of their content on the platforms, a move similar to landmark media bargaining laws introduced in Australia last year.

But a recent attempt to legislate the JCPA resulted in threats by Meta to remove news from its social media website Facebook, with spokesman Andy Stone saying the proposal would create a “cartel-like entity”.

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Twitter reinstates suspended accounts of several journalists

Elon Musk said early Saturday that Twitter was reinstating the accounts of several journalists whose accounts were suspended after he had accused them of violating the social media platform’s rules on personal privacy, reports The New York Times’ Yan Zhuang and Euan Ward.

Musk said he was restoring most of the accounts, which had been deactivated on Thursday, after a majority of respondents in his informal Twitter survey voted that the suspensions should be lifted immediately.

But for at least some of the reporters, including Drew Harwell of The Washington Post and Ryan Mac of The New York Times, the restoration of their accounts appeared to be contingent on them deleting posts that Twitter had flagged as “violating our rules against posting private information.”

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Twitter to remove accounts promoting other social platforms

Twitter has announced that it will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links to them or usernames featured on them, reports The Guardian’s Nadeem Badshah.

The platform said the move would affect content from numerous social media websites, including Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post, but would allow cross-content posting.

However, video platform TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd, was not included in the list.

It tweeted: “We recognise that many of our users are active on other social media platforms. However, we will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter.

“We still allow cross-posting content from any social media platform. Posting links or usernames to social media platforms not listed above are also not in violation of this policy.”

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News Brands

AFR announces two new deputy editors

The Australian Financial Review has announced two new deputy editors joining the masthead’s team.

Jessica Gardner has been promoted to deputy editor – news. The move recognises Gardner’s performance in driving an authoritative news agenda as news director over the past two years.

Gardner will work from the Parliament House, Canberra, bureau from 2023. Prior to becoming news director in 2020, she was the Financial Review’s companies and markets editor, having previously covered healthcare, gambling and technology.

Kylar Loussikian has been appointed deputy editor – business. This is a new position that will bolster the Financial Review’s  coverage of companies, markets and property.

Loussikian is a Walkley Award winner, former CBD columnist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and was most recently The Australian’s business editor.

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Steve Price’s radio gig, Australia Today, axed

Divisive commentator and radio and TV presenter Steve Price has been told his “time’s up”, reports

Price wrote in his column in the Herald Sun that his morning radio show won’t be back next year – but was quick to emphasise there is no scandal, and to distance himself from the antics of Chris Smith.

Price wrote, “It’s been a rollercoaster ride that’s lasted 35 years but ended on Friday – and not for any other reason than time’s up. No scandal here.”

His program was broadcast regionally through Triple M and was also available everywhere through Southern Cross Radio’s Listnr app. His program, Australia Today, will be replaced in some markets by Ray Hadley’s show while in others, music programming will take its place.

Australia Today newsreader Natarsha Belling will join Triple M’s Mick & MG in the Morning.

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A Current Affair denies paying cop killers’ dad for exclusive interview

Nine Entertainment, producer of A Current Affair, has denied the program paid Ronald Train, the father of police killers Gareth and Nathaniel Train, for his seven-minute exclusive interview, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

On Wednesday night, the retired Baptist pastor sat down with ACA reporter Chris Allen, opening up the family photo albums and speaking about his love for his sons who, he said, had been “demonised in the press”.

He also addressed the bizarre relationship between the two Train siblings and his daughter-in-law, Stacey Christoffel Train.

A Nine spokeswoman denied a five-figure sum, or any sum, had changed hands to secure the interview. Nine’s director of news, Darren Wick, reiterated this on Friday saying; “No payment, just good old-fashioned journalism.”

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Sports Media

Big Bash League faces cuts under TV rights deal

The number of domestic Big Bash League cricket matches will be significantly wound back if the sport’s incumbent broadcasters Seven and Foxtel are awarded an extension to the current media rights deal, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

Cricket Australia is expected to decide this week whether to continue its joint broadcasting partnership with Seven and Foxtel, or award the contract to US entertainment company and Network 10 owner Paramount, which wants the rights to cover men’s and women’s Test matches, one-day internationals, and Twenty20 Big Bash leagues.

The current rights deal expires in March 2024, and CA is hoping to secure a rights deal in excess of $200 million per year, for the seven years through to March 2031.

Should Seven and Foxtel retain the rights to all cricket formats, it is almost certain that the length of the BBL season, which currently features 61 matches, would be cut by up to a third.

Senior executives at both Foxtel and Seven want the BBL season shortened as they believe that both fans and advertisers see the tournament as “too drawn out” (it runs from mid-December to early February).

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