Roundup: Nine Entertainment board, Christian O’Connell, AFL betting ads


Google, Matt Hancock messages leak, Daily Mail UK, Matt Wordsworth, NRL’s new TV ad

Business of Media

Google executives summoned by Canada MPs after blocking news content over ‘link tax’

Canadian lawmakers have demanded Google executives appear before a parliamentary committee to testify after the search engine began removing links to news articles for some Canadians in response to a proposed law to make the platform pay for republishing news content, reports The Guardian’s Leyland Cecco.

Last week, Google started blocking links to news stories, both through its search results and its “discover” feature for nearly 4% of the population, a test the company said would last for five weeks. The company framed the blocking as a series of “tests” meant to better understand the implications of the controversial bill.

“It really surprises me that Google has decided that they would rather prevent Canadians from accessing news than actually paying journalists for the work they do,” prime minister Justin Trudeau said in response. “I think that’s a terrible mistake and I know that Canadians expect journalists to be well paid for the work they do.”

The federal government’s Online News Act, or bill C-18, would compel Google and Facebook parent company Meta to sign deals with a wide range of Canadian news publishers to compensate them both for republishing their content and for indexing it. Google has called C-18 a “link tax” and senior management have said the bill pushes the debate over compensation in the “wrong direction”.

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Isabel Oakeshott says Matt Hancock messages leak ‘in public interest’

The writer who handed more than 100,000 of the former health secretary Matt Hancock’s messages to a newspaper has defended her actions, saying she was acting in the national interest, reports The Guardian’s Kevin Rawlinson.

Isabel Oakeshott, who is at the centre of a row about the leak of Hancock’s correspondence to the Daily Telegraph, hit back after his criticism of her actions.

“The greatest betrayal is of the entire country,” she said, in a statement responding to Hancock’s accusation that she had betrayed his trust.

Oakeshott added: “Hard though it may be for him to believe, this isn’t about Matt Hancock, or indeed any other individual politician. Nor is it about me.”

Along with the Telegraph, Oakeshott – a longtime critic of public health measures taken by the government during the Covid pandemic – has sought to portray the leaked messages as evidence some lockdown curbs were unnecessary.

On Thursday, she said: “We were all let down by the response to the pandemic and repeated unnecessary lockdowns. Children, in particular, paid a terrible price. Anyone who questioned an approach we now know was fatally flawed was utterly vilified; including highly respected and eminent public health experts, doctors and scientists.”

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News Brands

Seats going in Nine Entertainment board room, Spencer Stuart searches

Nine Entertainment Co chairman Peter Costello has called in the recruiters to help re-stock a board left depleted by three director departures in the past year, and potentially find his own successor, report Nine Publishing’s Anthony Macdonald, Sarah Thompson, and Kanika Sood.

It is understood Costello has had Spencer Stuart’s headhunters draw up a list of media executives and other business types, who could add to Nine’s six-person board and help oversee its broadcasting, publishing and online assets.

The chairman’s started roadtesting some of the headhunters’ suggestions, sources in the industry said, to see whether they would be a good fit with the existing set of directors.

Nine likely sees it as good corporate governance practices. The company has only six directors according to last week’s half-year accounts (seven per Nine’s website, which still counts the now gone Nick Falloon), which is on the small-side when it comes to top-200 listed companies.

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Daily Mail UK announces redundancy plans as print readership declines

The Daily Mail has announced plans to make some of its journalists’ jobs redundant, as the newspaper struggles with declining print readership and the increased cost of paper, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

The newspaper’s editor, Ted Verity, said his plan would lead to staff working across the print Daily Mail, its sister title the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline.

Until very recently the three outlets have had distinct identities with different teams and little sharing of resources. In many cases journalists from the different outlets would be competing against each other for stories, despite all working for the same parent company.

Staff at the Mail on Sunday are expecting to bear most of the job losses. Verity said the weekend newspaper would retain its “distinct characters, columnists and senior staff” but hinted that more junior roles are at risk.

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Gold FM host Christian O’Connell to officially become an Australian citizen

Five years after packing up and moving to Australia, British radio host Christian O’Connell is formally adopting his new country, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

O’Connell, his wife, Sarah, and their daughters, Ruby and Lois, will officially become Australian citizens on Thursday at Brighton Town Hall.

“All the family are becoming Aussies and we are honoured,’’ said Gold FM breakfast host O’Connell.

“We love our adopted country and are proud to be part of it. It is a beautiful country with so much to see and explore, the real attraction is you guys.

“You are friendly, positive and love a laugh. It has changed us since moving here five years ago.”

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“Long live public broadcasting”: Matt Wordsworth signs off ABC News

Matt Wordsworth last night presented his final bulletin at ABC News Queensland, after 20+ years with the broadcaster and 5 years in the anchor chair, reports TV Tonight.

Across his career he has presented many of the ABC’s flagship programs including 7:30, Lateline, RN Breakfast, AM and PM and anchored several state election broadcasts.

“Thank you at home for watching, it’s been an absolute privilege and an honour. To work alongside Jenny (Woodward, weather presenter) has just been a highlight of my career. Long live public broadcasting, good night!” he said.

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Sports Media

Revealed: First look at NRL’s new TV advertisement

The fans have taken centre stage in the NRL’s latest advertising campaign, with the “Run to What’s Real” tagline focusing on tribalism for the 2023 season, reports Nine Publishing’s Adrian Proszenko.

The NRL had to get creative for this year’s campaign after the players refused to be involved while the protracted collective bargaining agreement stoush continued.

While there are hopes that a resolution isn’t far away, the players opted to boycott all NRL-arranged promotions – including the season launch – until the impasse has been resolved.

The final cut of the advertisement wasn’t finalised until after midday on Thursday, just in time to go to air on the Nine network, the owner of this masthead, before the blockbuster Parramatta-Melbourne opening-round clash later in the evening.

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See Also: Making a splash: What the Dolphins mean for Nine’s NRL strategy in 2023

High-profile players refuse to play ball on AFL betting ads

A number of high-profile AFL players have refused to have their image used by the AFL’s wagering partner, for ethical, reputational or even commercial reasons, reports Nine Publishing’s Jake Niall.

Melbourne’s premiership full-forward and renowned goalkicker Ben Brown is among the leading players who have chosen not to have their image used in the AFL-authorised betting promotions for ethical reasons.

By opting “out”, the players will not have their image used by the AFL’s lucrative betting partner, Sportsbet, which is entitled to use their image – in small groups shots and also in footage – to promote or advertise the company’s betting on the AFL.

In addition to Brown, who is renowned for his stands on social issues, The Age is aware of another well-known player, who wished to remain anonymous, who opted out for ethical reasons, feeling uncomfortable with the betting promotion.

There are other players, according to agents, who have opted out of the wagering promotion because they have had gambling problems in the past.

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