Roundup: Nine pays penalties, Regional media, Alan Jones, GB News + more

Alan Jones

• Guardian & Country Press Facebook deals, ABC moving to Liverpool?, Mumbrella founder departs, Louise Milligan lawsuit, Q&A, Sky News, AAP Olympic coverage, Steve Price, Gideon Haigh plus Bogut & Hutchy

Business of Media

Nine Entertainment pays penalties for alleged excessive credit card surcharges

Six subsidiaries of Nine Entertainment Co (Nine) have paid penalties totalling $159,840 after the ACCC issued them with 12 infringement notices for allegedly charging subscribers and advertisers excessive payment surcharges.

The regulator reported on Friday that Nine will also provide approximately $450,000 in consumer redress to eligible advertising, home delivery and digital subscription customers.

Details were provided in this release:

The ACCC was concerned that from December 2018, after Nine merged with Fairfax Media, most consumer and advertiser transactions processed by Nine in which a payment surcharge was applied involved an excessive payment surcharge.

Nine applied payment surcharges to digital and home delivery subscription services as well as radio, publishing, TV and digital advertising.

The ACCC’s infringement notices were issued in relation to payments made using MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards between August and December 2020 which attracted stated surcharges ranging from 0.9 per cent to 1.55 per cent. The ACCC alleged that these surcharges exceeded the actual cost to Nine by between 0.09 and 0.84 per cent, depending on the method of payment.

“A payment surcharge is excessive and in breach of the law if it exceeds the costs to the business of processing the payment,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

“While the average over-charge per consumer was relatively small, given the number of transactions processed by Nine, this added up to a significant amount.”

About 220,000 current digital and home delivery subscribers who paid by MasterCard or Visa credit or debit card will be provided a one-off cash adjustment of $1.92, which is the average excess payment surcharge paid by those consumers, or an extension to their subscription.

Nine will also contact affected advertising customers to advise they may have been over-surcharged and are entitled to obtain refunds.

“This should serve as a reminder to businesses that the ACCC will continue to investigate complaints about businesses imposing excessive payment surcharges,” Keogh said.

Nine has since amended its payment surcharges to comply with the RBA standard on excessive payment surcharges.

The infringement notices were issued to Fairfax Media Management Pty Ltd (relating to subscription services), Nine Radio Operations Pty Ltd (relating to radio advertising services), Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd (relating to the publication of advertising), and NBN Pty Ltd, Nine Digital Pty Ltd and Nine Network Australia Pty Ltd (in relation to TV and digital advertising services).

‘We have no levers left to pull’: Regional TV’s bid to save itself

In the months before COVID-19 hit, regional television stations were warning Communications Minister Paul Fletcher’s department of the difficulties facing their industry, as they waited to hear if he would consider a merger of WIN, Prime Media and Southern Cross Austereo’s television assets, reports SMH‘s Anne Hyland.

The three stations saw that their survival and continued presence in regional Australia lay in becoming a bigger company that could compete and negotiate with the major television networks Seven, Nine (the owner of this masthead) and Ten, rather than risk being taken over by them.

Instead, the idea never progressed and when the regional media sector was hit hard by the pandemic, the government provided a range of tax-payer funded relief measures, including a $50 million Public Interest News Gathering program, to support media businesses in regional Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have obtained heavily redacted correspondence as part of a Freedom of Information request made to Minister Fletcher’s office. The correspondence reveals the warnings his department received about the financial pressures the regional TV companies said they were experiencing, as the 2019 merger proposal was floated.

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Mumbrella founder resigns to focus on solo writing career

Local media and marketing commentator and Mumbrella founder Tim Burrowes has resigned from the company he established more than 12 years ago, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

Burrowes, who has more recently written a Saturday media column called Best Of The Week, will leave the company at the end of July, more than three years after it was sold to events company Diversified Communications. His resignation coincides with the release of his first novel, Media Unmade, which provides insight into the last decade of Australian media and marketing industry.

[Read More]

News Brands

Guardian Australia strikes deal with Facebook to licence news to the platform

Guardian Australia has struck a deal with Facebook to licence news content to the platform’s News tab, reports Guardian Australia’s Josh Taylor.

After months of lengthy negotiations between the two companies since the passage of the federal government’s news media bargaining code in February, Guardian Australia’s managing director, Dan Stinton, announced the agreement with Facebook had been reached on Friday.

Guardian journalism is already a trusted source of news on Facebook in Australia, so we welcome the opportunity to licence our content to the platform. We look forward to partnering with Facebook to make the launch of News tab a success,” Stinton said.

Facebook’s news partnerships lead for Australia and New Zealand, Andrew Hunter, welcomed the agreement.

“We are pleased to partner with Guardian Australia to bring additional news posts to Facebook,” he said. “Facebook will continue to work with a variety of publishers to support the sustainability of Australia’s news industry.”

News Corp, Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media, as well as smaller publishers Australian Community Media, Private Media, Schwartz Media and Solstice Media have all signed signed deals with Facebook in recent months.

[Read more]

ACCC boss welcomes Guardian and Country Press Facebook deals

It is too early to make a decision on the need to force tech giants Facebook and Google under the Morrison government’s media code as they continue to negotiate deals with media companies, says the head of the competition watchdog, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

The only criteria for success of the code was media companies being able to come to fair commercial deals with the big tech players,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims told The Australian Financial Review.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said the news media bargaining code, which became law at the end of February, would not apply to Facebook and Google if they reached agreements with enough media companies in Australia.

“We’ve got deals with the vast bulk of Australian media and more are coming,” Sims said. “We are in a great spot. It’s better that you get deals done where you’ve got an equal bargaining framework versus having to be done by an arbitrator.”

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British TV news channel looks to fix things after ‘rocky start’

Britain’s colourful and controversial debutant TV channel GB News enters its fourth week of life, having pushed through its tumultuous reception to steady the ship, overcoming technical glitches and advertiser reticence – but also losing viewers, reports AFR‘s Hans van Leeuwen.

The channel – launched on June 13 by one of Britain’s foremost interviewers Andrew Neil and helmed by former Sky News Australia boss Angelos Frangopoulos – is seen as a right-wing squawk box, but claims to be no more than a counterweight to the perceived biases and preoccupations of the liberal metropolitan media.

That was enough to lure 250,000 viewers on opening night and a reported 2.2 million on June 14, the first full day of broadcasting. But media reports suggest the number of daily viewers has halved since then, falling behind the news channels of Sky and the BBC.

Neil’s 8pm show has been the standout success, and industry data suggests he was initially commanding twice as many viewers as those who tuned in to BBC News and Sky News.

But after just a fortnight on air, he announced he was taking a break for “a few weeks” to “replenish my batteries after the rigours of the launch”.

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‘Parramatta is not western Sydney’: ABC in talks to move staff to Liverpool

Up to 75 ABC staff could move to south-west Sydney under a proposal to provide office space to the national broadcaster ahead of its relocation of 300 employees to Parramatta by 2024, reports SMH‘s Andrew Taylor.

Mayor Wendy Waller said Liverpool City Council was in talks with the ABC and offering 700 square metres of existing office space to accommodate 50-75 ABC staff “almost immediately”.

Waller said the council was also exploring opportunities to make a permanent home for the national broadcaster in the new Liverpool Civic Place development, due for completion in early 2023.

She said the council welcomed moves by the ABC to relocate staff from Ultimo to Parramatta by 2024. But Liverpool City councillors last week agreed to approach the ABC and SBS about the viability of relocating to Liverpool in south-west Sydney.

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Sarah Henderson blasts ABC over defence of Louise Milligan’s Andrew Laming tweets

Former ABC presenter and Liberal senator Sarah Henderson said the public broadcaster’s decision to fund a defamation case against investigative reporter Louise Milligan over a series of tweets she made about federal MP Andrew Laming highlights the organisation’s “woefully inadequate” social media policy, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

The ABC last week confirmed it will pay the legal costs to defend the Four Corners investigative reporter after embattled Liberal MP Andrew Laming launched defamation action against her.

In court documents, Laming claimed Milligan’s tweets about him “irrevocably” damaged his “personal and professional reputation”.

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ABC complaints system under fire again following Q&A episode

The Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is pushing for reform of the ABC’s complaints policy after an internal division dismissed claims of bias and lack of impartiality on an episode of Q&A in May, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

A complaint lodged by the AIJAC alleged that the Q&A episode, which focused on the latest bout of violence between Israel and Palestine, did not fairly present all sides of the debate. It was rejected by the ABC’s audience and consumer affairs division.

[Read More]

Sky News, Streem agree to exclusive monitoring

Media monitoring company Streem and Sky News Australia have agreed to a multi-year deal that gives the media intelligence business exclusive monitoring rights to the 24-hour news ­channel, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

The deal means that from September 1, Streem will be the only media monitoring organisation in the Australia/New Zealand market able to provide customers with full content from Sky News Australia, including alerts, streaming, downloads and transcripts. “Sky News Australia is a highly influential broadcaster. From boardrooms to party rooms, corporates to government, we’re delivering customers real time monitoring from the best platform available,” Streem’s chief executive Elgar Welch said.

Corporate and government clients use media monitoring services to keep informed of news and information about their organisation, competitors and ­industry.

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Covid-19 pandemic ends AAP’s Olympic Games streak

For the first time in almost 75 years, Australia’s national news agency will not send a team of journalists to cover the Olympics, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

Australian Associated Press has covered every Summer Games since the end of World War II, but its reduced staff numbers – the agency was sold to new owners in June last year, and in the process more than half of its 180 journalists and photographers lost their jobs – coupled with the logistic hardships caused by the pandemic prompted management’s decision to skip Tokyo.

AAP editor Andrew Drummond told The Australian the agency instead would rely on a single journalist and one photographer, seconded from the Press Association, to anchor its on-the-ground coverage.

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Alan Jones ponders radio return to ‘give voice’ to the silenced

More than a year after departing the breakfast radio slot he dominated for almost two decades, broadcaster Alan Jones said he would consider a comeback if he was presented with the right offer, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

The 80-year-old currently hosts his own weeknightly show on Sky News Australia and with his contract due to end in November, Jones told The Australian a return to radio wasn’t off the table.

“What the future holds, who knows,” Jones said. “Am I interested in radio? I’m interested in the media, I’m interested in the prosecution of ideas, that why I write and I broadcast on TV, but in relation to radio, who knows?

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Australia Today host Steve Price tells why he wouldn’t work for Nine Radio again

Steve Price has told News Corp that there’s nothing but good vibes between he and his long-time pal and talkback colleague Ray Hadley in the wake of a deal that saw Price’s Southern Cross Austereo show replace Hadley’s syndication deal across Triple M’s regional networks, reports News Corp’s Amy Harris.

The switch, which went into effect this week, sees Price’s Australia Today show (currently also streamed on the LiSTNR platform) broadcast from Mt Gambier to Maryborough – an area one might consider Hadley heartland.

Price parted ways with Nine-owned Macquarie Media and 2GB just over 18 months ago after failing to reach an agreement on a proposed new timeslot for his show after Deb Knight was given his afternoon gig.

At the time it was reported new Macquarie boss Tom Malone informed Price of the network’s decision personally – a claim Price maintains is “not true”.

“Tom Malone never spoke to me directly about that … So in terms of how they treat people, I think it’s just pretty unacceptable. Would I ever work with them again? I don’t think so.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

The Australian’s Gideon Haigh: In defence of the humble cricket journalist

Next week, Aaron Finch’s Australians commence a white ball series with a T20 international against the West Indies in Gros Islet, writes The Australian’s Gideon Haigh.

It’s an enticing prospect. Australia hasn’t been to the Caribbean for more than six years, hasn’t played a T20 against West Indies for more than seven. For our underemployed, overbubbled cricketers, it is their year’s only tour, and a chance to stake a claim for selection in the T20 World Cup starting in mid-October.

Yet how will we follow said fixtures? At time of writing, it’s by no means clear whether the games will be on Australian television. Fox Sports are still to strike a content agreement with an intermediary representing the boards of West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Not one Australian media organisation has sent a reporter, unless you consider Cricket Australia a media organisation — two staff joined the team on their chartered Qantas Dreamliner last Monday, flying direct from Brisbane to St Lucia. ABC? Australian Associated Press? Nowhere to be seen.

[Read more]

Bogut and Hutchy’s fat shaming Twitter spat ends with doughnuts

A peace offering of doughnuts has been the catalyst for basketball superstar Andrew Bogut and media boss Craig Hutchison to bury the hatchet and call a truce on their calorie-laden sporting spat, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

The pair broke bread at a recent meeting of National Basketball League owners with Sydney Kings co-owners Bogut and Paul Smith arriving at the powerbroker’s table with a present for Hutchison, who is the current chairman of Melbourne United – a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

The doughnuts refer back to a Twitter sledge Bogut shot Hutchison’s way in August 2020 after the media bigwig joked on radio that the basketball star was “overpaid” as a player with the Sydney Kings.

[Read More]

See Also: Hutchy and SEN group acquires NBL Perth Wildcats from Jack Bendat

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