Roundup: Murdoch tech deals, Leigh Sales on sexism, Natalie Barr’s first day + more

rupert murdoch lachlan murdoch

• Plus Fox Corp circles Tabcorp, Emma Roberts-Smith to testify for The Age, Nine sacks many Melbourne staff, Eddie McGuire returns to TV.

Media Code

Rupert Murdoch’s big tech deals lead to more questions

The chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is a man transformed. After cash-for-journalism deals with Google and Facebook, Robert Thomson’s accusations of “smugness” from big tech have made way for compliments, reports London Telegraph’s Ben Woods and Matthew Field.

Thomson lauded Google boss Sundar Pichai for his “thoughtful commitment to journalism” following an agreement with News Corp last month.

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Business of Media

Lachlan Murdoch’s Fox Corp circles Tabcorp

The Murdoch family’s US media business Fox Corporation has been working with other investors on a potential bid for parts of ASX-listed gaming operator Tabcorp, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios and Patrick Hatch.

The Los Angeles based company, which is run by billionaire media scion Lachlan Murdoch, has also registered a trademark for its betting arm FOXBet in Australia, in a sign the company is considering an assault on the local wagering industry.

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Luna Park fire suspect is no secret

A scene-setting season opener of Caro Meldrum-Hanna’s Exposed investigative series aired on the ABC on Tuesday night. It featured many asides to long-held suspicions that the 1979 Luna Park Ghost Train fire, in which six children and one father perished, was deliberately lit, reports AFR‘s Myriam Robin.

Such claims will no doubt be the focus of coming episodes. But those who can’t wait could do worse than turning to the Sydney Morning Herald, which sought to capitalise on the interest in Meldrum-Hanna’s 18-month probe by alerting online readers to coverage from its own gun investigator Kate McClymont.

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Ben Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife to testify for The Age

Ben Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife has flipped and will testify for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in defamation proceedings her former husband brought against the newspapers, reports AFR‘s Max Mason.

Emma Roberts-Smith was expected to testify on behalf of her ex-husband, but will now testify for Nine that Mr Roberts-Smith asked her to lie about matters relating to the defamation actions, the Federal Court heard on Wednesday.

Mr Roberts-Smith launched a defamation action in 2018 against The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and journalists Nick McKenzie, Chris Masters and David Wroe, over reports he allegedly committed murder on deployments to Afghanistan and that he punched his mistress in the face in Canberra.

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ABC 7.30 anchor Leigh Sales’s honest words about sexism in Australia

At a Sydney Media Club lunch on Wednesday, the 7.30 host was asked to talk about her experiences as a woman making a successful career, reports News Corp’s Anton Nilsson.

She said she felt as if there was a system in place that protected powerful men and often made women feel like they were the problem.

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News Brands

UK columnist Julie Burchill pays damages over defamatory Islamophobic tweets

London Sunday Telegraph columnist Julie Burchill has agreed to pay substantial damages to Novara Media journalist Ash Sarkar after making defamatory allegations on Twitter that played into Islamophobic tropes, reports Press Gazette.

Burchill’s false claims that she was an Islamist and a hypocrite have already lost her a book deal after her publisher said she had “crossed a line with regard to race and religion”.

On Tuesday morning Burchill published an apology on her Twitter and Facebook pages which said: “Although it was not my intention, I accept that my statements were defamatory of Ms Sarkar and caused her very substantial distress.”

Burchill agreed to pay substantial damages for the distress caused and Sarkar’s legal costs.

Sarkar’s solicitor Zillur Rahman, of Rahman Lowe Solicitors, said the case “really does highlight the dangers of people thinking that the law does not apply to them on social media – the costs could be severe”.

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Nine sacks many Melbourne staff including technical and operational employees

Nine Entertainment has cut staff in its Melbourne television production team, axing about 10 positions largely connected to local sport and news, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Staff from the network’s production department at its Docklands headquarters were told in recent weeks they no longer had jobs.

Those to get the cut included floor managers, lighting staff and TV production employees.

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Television

Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire makes return to TV for first time since standing down

Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has made his first TV appearance since he stepped down amid a racism controversy, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

The 56-year-old host of Nine Entertainment’s Footy Classified program said resigning in front of the cameras was “the hardest day of my life outside of personal tragedies”.

“I was really, really sad, it affected me greatly, But I’m OK now because you get up, you dust yourself off and you go again,” he said.

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Natalie Barr says taking over Sunrise has been ‘nightmarish’

She recently took over Samantha Armytage’s role of hosting Sunrise, but it hasn’t been the easiest transition for Natalie Barr, reports News Corp’s Bianca Mastroianni.

On Tuesday, the former newsreader told TV Blackbox that hosting the show is “a bit nightmarish”.

The 52-year-old explained that she wasn’t loving being in the spotlight following Sam’s exit from the show, saying she can’t wait to get back to the “new normal” of hosting the breakfast show.

“That’s my natural habitat,” the mother-of-two said. “I love covering the news, I love going out to these stories. But the attention on me is not my natural habitat.”

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Who will conquer the next Mount Everest of TV interviews after Oprah?

It was the “what” heard around the world, reports SMH‘s Craig Mathieson.

When Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, together with her husband Prince Harry, revealed in last week’s headline-making television interview that a member of Britain’s royal family had expressed concern about how dark the skin tone of their first child would be, Oprah Winfrey helped give an event interview the signature moment history will deem it deserved.

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Piers Morgan’s Meghan Markle comments spark most complaints in history to U.K. regulator

Piers Morgan‘s tirade against Meghan Markle on Good Morning Britain on March 8 — a one-man rant that would see him step down from the breakfast news show the next day amid widespread condemnation — has officially now received the most complaints to U.K. regulator Ofcom in its history, reports The Hollywood Reporter‘s Alex Ritman.

On March 9, Ofcom revealed that 41,000 people had complained about Morgan, adding that it had launched an investigation under its harm and offence rules. In its weekly complaints bulletin on March 17, Ofcom revealed that this figure has now reached 57,121.

[Read More]

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