Roundup: Media diversity senate enquiry, Seven & Prime deal green lit, Kyle Sandilands

Seven West Media

• iHeartMedia, imprisoned journalists, Rebel Wilson, and BBC Stduios

Business of Media

Competition watchdog green lights Seven-Prime deal

Seven West Media has been given the green light to acquire regional broadcaster Prime Media by the competition watchdog with the proposed deal likely to proceed at a shareholder vote on December 23, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the merger was unlikely to substantially lessen competition given most of Prime’s content is supplied by Seven and Prime produces its own regional news in some areas.

Having previously reviewed a proposed merger of the two companies in 2019 only to see major shareholders Bruce Gordon and Antony Catalano torpedo a scrip deal, the ACCC only had to assess whether there had been any material changes in relevant markets since then.

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Call for royal commission-style inquiry into media splits Senate committee

A proposal for a royal commission-style investigation into Australia’s media ownership has split a Senate inquiry, with the Liberal deputy chair ridiculing the recommendation as a danger to democracy, reports SMH’s Lisa Visentin and Zoe Samios.

The recommendation is the key finding of a year-long Senate inquiry into media diversity, led by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, which focused on the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Australia.

In a majority report backed by Labor senators, the Senate’s communications committee concluded a judicial inquiry with royal commission powers was needed to “determine whether the existing system of media regulation is fit-for-purpose and to investigate the concentration of media ownership in Australia”.

But Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, the deputy chair of the inquiry, savaged the findings in a dissenting report, saying the inquiry had been “a stunt conducted at taxpayers’ expense”.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the report’s calls for another expensive media inquiry and more regulation lacked justification. “Neither are warranted.”

Nine Entertainment Co, also a dominant player in Australian media, declined to comment.

But opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said a judicial inquiry into media was not party policy and ruled out Labor launching a royal commission into the issue if it won government at next year’s election.

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iHeartMedia podcasters to unionize with Writers Guild East

A majority of iHeartMedia’s podcast network have agreed to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East, extending a recent wave of unionization efforts from digital media workers across the industry, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s J. Clara Chan.

The iHeartPodcast Network’s bargaining committee has about 125 members, according to the WGA East, and is calling on executives at iHeartMedia to voluntarily recognize and negotiate with the union. In a letter to management, the podcast employees — which include podcast hosts, producers, editors, researchers and writers — pointed to concerns with compensation and a lack of transparency in “workplace decision making” and “initiatives toward diversity and inclusion.”

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News Brands

Number of journalists in jail around the world at new high, says survey

The number of journalists who are behind bars worldwide reached a new high point in 2021, according to a study which says that 293 reporters were imprisoned as of 1 December 2021, reports Reuters.

At least 24 journalists were killed because of their coverage, and 18 others died in circumstances that make it too difficult to determine whether they were targeted because of their work, the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday in its annual survey on press freedom and attacks on the media.

The number in jail rose by 15 compared with 2020.

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Kyle Sandilands takes NSW Police to court after refusing his gun licence application

Australia’s biggest radio star Kyle Sandilands is taking police to court after they rejected his application for a gun licence, reports News Corp’s Josh Hanrahan and Jonathon Moran.

Sandilands, 50, applied for the licence last year but in September this year was told by police they would not be granting him one.

The Daily Telegraph can now reveal the KIIS FM star has launched proceedings before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) against NSW Police, with police sources confirming he is seeking a review of the decision.

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Rebel Wilson on BBC 100 Women list

Aussie Rebel Wilson has been named on BBC’s 100 Women list for 2021, reports TV Tonight.

The list acknowledges those women playing their part to reinvent society, culture and our world – with half of this year’s list made up of women from Afghanistan.

Wilson is the only Australian named.

“Actress, writer and producer Rebel Wilson – A Hollywood megastar who starred in the female-led comedy hit Bridesmaids, Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit and the box-office hit trilogy Pitch Perfect, who will be directing her first feature film in 2022,” BBC notes.

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BBC Studios ANZ appoints Head of Development & Content, Production

BBC Studios Australia and New Zealand has appointed Deb Spinocchia as Head of Development and Content, Production, reports TV Tonight.

She joins from Screentime Australia where she was Executive Producer of SAS Australia and The School That Tried to End Racism and was previously Executive Producer at Seven Studios where she oversaw productions including House Rules, Zumbo’s Just Desserts, First Dates and Back with the Ex. She was previously with Southern Star Entertainment, Endemol Shine, Fremantle Media, SBS and ABC.

Kylie Washington, GM and Creative Director, Production BBC Studios ANZ, said: “I’m delighted to have someone of Deb’s calibre joining the team. Deb has a wealth of experience in content development and production across reality, factual, scripted and live entertainment and is the perfect person to lead the development team as we build on the momentum of this year and look to extend our slate further into different genres.”

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