The Guardian 2024-03-01 04:31:17


Meta on collision course with government after announcing end to journalism funding deals

Meta on collision course with Australian government after announcing end to journalism funding deals

Publishers informed on Friday Meta would not enter new deals when current contracts expire and Facebook news tab would shut down in April

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Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has set itself on a collision course with the Albanese government after announcing it will stop paying Australian publishers for news, and plans to shut down its news tab in Australia and the United States.

Meta informed publishers on Friday that it would not enter new deals when the current contracts expire this year.

The news tab – a dedicated tab for news in the bookmarks section of Facebook – will also shut down in April, after a similar shut down in the UK, Germany and France last year.

Meta confirmed the plans in a blog post at the same time publishers were informed.

“While we’ll be deprecating Facebook News in these countries, this announcement does not impact the terms under our existing Facebook News agreements with publishers in Australia, France and Germany,” the company said.

“These deals have already expired in the US and the UK. Additionally, to ensure that we continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement, we will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”

The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, and assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, quickly slammed said the decision, stating it “represents a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media”.

“The government has made its expectations clear,” the ministers said.

“The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide.”

The ministers said the government is seeking advice from Treasury and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on next steps.

“We will now work through all available options under the News Media Bargaining Code. The government will continue to engage with news publishers and platforms through this process.”

Meta said the decision was “part of an ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most”, and that people using Facebook News in Australia and the US had dropped by 80% in the past year.

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“We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions and interests. As we previously shared in 2023, news makes up less than 3% of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.”

Facebook, along with Google, signed dozens of deals with publishers in 2021 worth an estimated $200m seeking to avoid being “designated” under the Australian government’s news media bargaining code, which would have forced the digital platforms to negotiate with news publishers for the use of news content on the platforms.

The federal government opted against designating both companies in light of the deals signed.

Before the legislation passed, Facebook removed all news content in Australia, along with hundreds of pages from NGOs and government, in response to the proposed legislation. It has since done this in Canada.

The end of the deals does not mean news links will not be accessible on Facebook, just that the tab is being shut down. Media companies will still be able to post content on their pages.

Rod Sims, who was chair of the ACCC when the news media bargaining code was developed, said Meta was selfish in its decision.

“The platforms often talk about wanting a free internet, but what they mean by that is they get all the benefits from people using their platform but don’t share any of that with people who provide the content on the platform,” he told Guardian Australia.

Sims said he was concerned Meta appeared less interested in having trusted news on its platform.

“I think that’s a worrying trend, where social media companies obviously want people’s attention so they can advertise to them, but they’re not concerned about the type of content people are looking at on their website, which means they’re not taking responsibility in a way I think they should and that of course is damaging our society.”

Sims said it was up to the ministers to determine whether the powers to force Meta to negotiate should be used, but said it was likely Meta would use the current ban on news links in Canada as a threat of what it could do in response.

Nine’s CEO, Mike Sneesby, said the decision doesn’t recognise the value of Nine’s journalism to Meta’s platforms.

“Regardless of the Meta announcement today, the value created on their platform from the use of Nine’s IP is both unquestionable and growing and we strongly believe Meta should negotiate in good faith around the fair compensation for that value exchange,” he said.

“We will continue to robustly advocate that these deals are in the national interest and the arguments that led to the code in the first place remain as strong as ever.”

Meta has said that the change will not affect its third-party factchecker network.

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Albanese and Dutton make final pitches in tight Dunkley race

Crime, aspiration and the underdog status: Albanese and Dutton make final pitches in tight Dunkley race

Labor highlights tax changes and legacy of late MP Peta Murphy, while Liberals’ Nathan Conroy tells ‘scared’ voters to ‘send a message’ to government on law and order

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According to Peter Dutton and Anthony Albanese, the battle for Dunkley will either come down to law and order, or tax cuts and the legacy of the late MP Peta Murphy.

As the tight race to win Saturday’s byelection turned to a sprint, the two leaders descended on Frankston to make their final pitches to voters on Friday – though neither would admit that its political importance goes well beyond Melbourne’s south-eastern fringe.

First up, at the home ground of the Frankston Dolphins football club, was Dutton, who described the poll as an opportunity for voters to “send a message” to the Labor government for “failing” to get on top cost-of-living and crime.

“If people here in Dunkley are worried about law and order issues, if you’re worried about crime, the last person you want to vote for is Anthony Albanese,” the opposition leader said, standing alongside the Liberal candidate for Dunkley, Nathan Conroy, and supporters clad in blue.

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He doubled down on the opposition’s question time attacks on the government over a person charged after they were released from immigration detention – even though Victoria police have admitted they got the wrong man and withdrawing charges.

Dutton also continued to blame Albanese for the release of 149 “hardened criminals” – despite it being a binding ruling of the high court – and backed a tweet by Liberal MP Sussan Ley urging voters in Dunkley concerned about alleged assaults by “foreign criminals” against “Victorian women” to vote against Labor.

“It’s clear that the government has made the community less safe by releasing these people,” he said.

Conroy described voters in Dunkley as being scared.

“People are sleeping with weapons next to themselves and there’s a lady in Carrum Downs – burgled twice in the last month – has just got a camera and she’s more nervous now waiting for that alert to ping on her phone,” he said.

“This shouldn’t happen in Australia in 2024.”

‘Get things done’

Meanwhile, Albanese spoke from the home of Frankston & District Netball Association, joined by supporters in red, after posing for photos with cafe workers in Frankston and then visiting an early voting centre in Carrum Downs.

Albanese said the brand-new netball facility was “physical evidence” of how effective Murphy was as a “local champion”.

Instead of offering a message to Canberra, the prime minister said voters in Dunkley could send a local representative “who can get things done as a voice in my government”.

“Not just be another bloke, sitting behind all the other blokes on Peter Dutton’s team, opposing everything, being negative about everything, running fear campaigns,” Albanese said.

“This will be a tight result. But I’m confident that we have the right policies, that we have the best candidate and that we have in Jodie Belyea, someone who will carry on Peta Murphy’s legacy as a strong voice for Dunkley.”

He said Labor’s changes to stage three tax cuts would provide tangible cost of living relief for low- and middle-income earners but not punish high income earners.

“We understand the aspiration isn’t something that just applies to people who are politicians and people above $200,000 [salaries] a year,” Albanese said.

“Aspiration is something that all Australian families have … people want and aspire to something better for their kids.”

He did not rule out further relief in May’s budget.

Claiming the underdog status

The Liberals claim Conroy was the “underdog” in the byelection, which was triggered by Murphy’s death from cancer in late 2023. The Labor MP had been elected in 2019 on a two-party preferred margin of 2.7%, later increasing it to 6.3% at the 2022 election.

“[It is] a very, very significant margin,” Dutton said.

Despite the attempt to lower expectations, the byelection has been seen as a critical test of the opposition leader’s electoral strategy of focusing on outer-suburban and regional seats to help him win office next year.

Meanwhile, for Labor, it has been seen as a chance to turn its recent fortunes around.

But there was one thing both leaders agreed on – a tight result.

Albanese noted that since 1983, the average swing against governments in government-held seats in byelections was 7.1%. He compared the latest poll to the wipe-out John Howard faced at the Ryan byelection in 2001, where Labor gained the seat with a 9.7% swing away from the government.

“It was very much a safe Liberal state [and] John Howard went on to win elections,” he said.

But Dutton is giving Labor a much smaller buffer.

“If there is a 3% swing against the government, particularly given there was an over 6% swing to the government in Aston only a matter of months ago,” he said.

“That would be a devastating result for the prime minister.”

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New Zealand v Australia: first Test, day two – live

39th over: New Zealand 153-7 (Phillips 69, Henry 21) Josh Hazlewood replaces Cummins. Pick that out! Phillips plays a rasping cover drive that skims across the baize to the boundary.

Kerry Stokes and his billionaire mates take a punt on ‘mainstream middle’ journalism

The Nightly: Kerry Stokes and his billionaire mates take a punt on ‘mainstream middle’ journalism

Amanda Meade

Online afternoon newspaper praises the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of ‘tycoons of industry who put us on the map’. Plus: Greg Sheridan caught up in Taylor Swift fever

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A new publication was launched this week in the form of an online afternoon newspaper. The afternoon newspaper died decades ago with the closure of Fairfax’s Sydney Sun, News Limited’s Brisbane Telegraph and Sydney’s Daily Mirror. The “digital weeknight newspaper” – that’s both a pdf and an online version – is a product we need now, we were told by publisher Seven West Media, because people are too busy to read the news in the morning: “Your ‘me time’ is now at night”.

The Nightly promises “No paywall, no clickbait – just commonsense ‘mainstream middle’ journalism”. All backed by the power and resources of Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media.

Stokes owns the West Australian, the Sunday Times, 19 regional publications, 11 suburban newspapers and free news website perthnow.com.au – which The Nightly promotional material unkindly referred to as “clickbait”.

The Nightly has something most start-ups don’t. The financial support of several billionaires – as well as Stokes – in the form of guaranteed advertising spend.

The Nightly carries ads from Mineral Resources founder Chris Ellison, Harvey Norman chief executive Katie Page and mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, as well as an in-depth interview with Gerry Harvey titled “Why Gerry’s all smiles even amid ‘challenging’ sales”. The first editions are packed with display ads for Channel Seven as well as multiple mining and gambling ads. Very wholesome.

The Nightly promised in its first editorial to “fight for the mainstream middle” but the views expressed by the editor-in-chief, Anthony De Ceglie, were demonstrably to the right of centre.

De Ceglie, who is doubling up as the editor in chief of The West Australian, focused on the same targets as he does in his established newspaper: industrial relations reforms and environmentalists. He railed against “industrial relations laws that fly in the very face of economic ambition” and complained that industry is “hobbled by over-zealous environmental bodies which have been overtaken by fanatics”.

There was a good word for his financial backers too. “So much for the entrepreneurial spirit embodied by those tycoons of industry who put us on the map,” he said.

Dore and Shorten among recruits

The Nightly’s headline act – who will deliver “blisteringly readable content” – is one Christopher Dore, the former editor-in-chief of The Australian.

Dore is making his return to writing via The Nightly after he was terminated by News Corp after 31 years, allegedly after an incident at a Wall Street Journal event in California.

Once the most powerful editorial executive in Murdoch’s Australian business, Dore’s first offering was a four-part hit piece on the prime minister. Anthony Albanese, he wrote, “stunned Labor colleagues by ignoring explicit advice warning against declaring the Voice referendum a first-term priority on election night and has been ‘cursed’ by the call since”.

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The copy is almost exclusively unsourced, is littered with expletives _ “It’s fucked the republic now” – and contains “quotes” attributed to Albanese himself in private, such as: “‘The whole point of the Voice was to listen to Indigenous people,’ [Albanese] would tell people, ‘we did that … we had a crack.’”

And: “‘I’ll stand up for my values,’ [Albanese] tells colleagues ‘and I’m prepared to make difficult decisions.’”

Another hire has been Kristin Shorten, an investigative reporter who joins from The Australian where she covered the trial of Zachary Rolfe for the killing of Kumanjayi Walker. Rolfe shot Walker three times while trying to arrest him in Yuendumu, about 300km from Alice Springs. Rolfe was found not guilty in March 2022 of charges of murder and manslaughter relating to Walker’s death.

The inquest into Walker’s death heard on Wednesday that Shorten was a friend of Rolfe’s because her partner was a fellow police officer. According to texts put to Rolfe in evidence at the inquest this week, she messaged Rolfe in November 2019 asking if he was OK after the shooting and telling him, among other things, to “ignore the leftist reporting”. Shorten has not given evidence at the inquest and was approached for comment.

ABC’s critics evenly split

It will surprise no one to hear 51% of all complaints raised by the ABC audience in 2023 related to the Israel/Gaza war.

According to the ABC Ombudsman’s first annual report, 58% of complainants suggested content was pro-Israel and 41% pro-Palestine.

The report found the ABC’s coverage was “professional, wide ranging and reflective of newsworthy events”.

Ombudsman Fiona Cameron, who was appointed in late 2022 and is independent from ABC News, suggested the ABC more clearly set out whether content was analysis, opinion or lived experience.

“While complaint numbers are a useful reflection of audience engagement, often content that is uncomfortable attracts more criticism,” she said.

“The ABC needs to be mindful of this tension to avoid being fearful of delivering on charter obligations to provide innovative and comprehensive programming while being thick skinned enough to clarify and explain decisions, acknowledge
misjudgements and, where appropriate, apologise.”

Strange allies

Of all the words published about Taylor Swift’s The Eras tour last month, you can’t go past Greg Sheridan’s analysis of the “cultural meaning” of the pop star for sheer absurdity.

“I had my rock concert-going days some little time ago,” Sheridan says, before going on to compare Swift to the performers he enjoyed in the 1970s: Billy Joel, Supertramp, Lou Reed and Elton John.

The 67-year-old conservative commentator admits he struggled at first to work out what all the fuss is about because, for a start, Swift is “not the classical beauty”.

The Australian’s foreign editor prefers the “classical beauty” of a Scarlett Johansson, for example. “That’s a superficial quality for sure, but sheer physical beauty is a factor for many entertainers,” he wrote in a piece headlined “Why Taylor Swift’s niceness and joy confounds the progressive left”.

Which brings us to his other point in the 1,200-plus word piece: Swift is, according to Sheridan, hated by the “ideological left”, perhaps because she was “brought up in a Christian home” and is nice. “One reason the left will never finally triumph is that they can never take yes for an answer,” he says. “And they are profoundly offended by any sign of normality, especially in their own ranks, or the ranks of those they expect to find sympathetic.”

Cashing in on Swift

All the newspapers – all the media, in fact – made the most of the Swiftmania by giving readers what they wanted: more Swift content.

According to ABC TV’s Media Watch, the Tele and the Herald Sun won the prize for excess, putting Swift on a combined 28 front pages in February. The two tabloids printed a 12-page ultimate fan guide, an 8-page souvenir concert liftout, a “build your own” lifesize Taylor Swift poster, and another 100-page souvenir edition liftout.

But the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph went one step further, publishing online fan galleries of the Sydney concerts featuring hundreds of happy concertgoers in their Swift attire. In the Herald, you could click on a link to buy a print for $72.

It reminded us of the Daily Telegraph’s innovative “Matildas semi-final fan gallery” last year which was a clever subscription strategy.

If any of the 300 Matildas fans who were photographed had clicked on the gallery to see their photo, they would have hit a paywall, forcing them to subscribe to see the pic.

Channel 10 in mourning

Young staff at Channel 10 who worked with the allegedly murdered roving TV reporter Jesse Baird are really struggling to cope as they come to terms with his death while also working on stories about the police investigation.

“Jesse was so much more than a colleague,” staff wrote in a post on social media. “He was a cherished friend who brightened every day with his positivity, cheeky winks and brilliant smile.

While high-profile staff such as presenters Narelda Jacobs and Angela Bishop have paid tribute to Baird publicly, there are dozens of junior staff who are doing it tough in silence, senior newsroom staff told us.

Unfortunately the redundancies announced by Ten last month continued apace, adding additional stress to the workforce, sources told Weekly Beast.

ABC’s local content decline

A former ABC senior executive in the television division, Michael Ward, has published an analysis of the broadcaster’s local content over the decade – and it’s not pretty.

Ward, who has just completed a PhD in media and communications at the University of Sydney, found that first release, non-news and current affairs screen content on the ABC’s main TV channel has dropped by 40% in ten years.

Ward says the decline in local content is due to close to $1bn budget shortfall over the period the Coalition was in power.

In 2022-23 the ABC broadcast 630 hours of new Australian programs compared to 1,060 hours in 2013-14, according to the study published by former staffers who call themselves ABC Alumni.

Using the ABC’s own data from annual reports and submissions, the analysis found that across all ABC platforms – including iview and the multi-channels – the drop was about 20%.

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Kerry Stokes and his billionaire mates take a punt on ‘mainstream middle’ journalism

The Nightly: Kerry Stokes and his billionaire mates take a punt on ‘mainstream middle’ journalism

Amanda Meade

Online afternoon newspaper praises the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of ‘tycoons of industry who put us on the map’. Plus: Greg Sheridan caught up in Taylor Swift fever

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A new publication was launched this week in the form of an online afternoon newspaper. The afternoon newspaper died decades ago with the closure of Fairfax’s Sydney Sun, News Limited’s Brisbane Telegraph and Sydney’s Daily Mirror. The “digital weeknight newspaper” – that’s both a pdf and an online version – is a product we need now, we were told by publisher Seven West Media, because people are too busy to read the news in the morning: “Your ‘me time’ is now at night”.

The Nightly promises “No paywall, no clickbait – just commonsense ‘mainstream middle’ journalism”. All backed by the power and resources of Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media.

Stokes owns the West Australian, the Sunday Times, 19 regional publications, 11 suburban newspapers and free news website perthnow.com.au – which The Nightly promotional material unkindly referred to as “clickbait”.

The Nightly has something most start-ups don’t. The financial support of several billionaires – as well as Stokes – in the form of guaranteed advertising spend.

The Nightly carries ads from Mineral Resources founder Chris Ellison, Harvey Norman chief executive Katie Page and mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, as well as an in-depth interview with Gerry Harvey titled “Why Gerry’s all smiles even amid ‘challenging’ sales”. The first editions are packed with display ads for Channel Seven as well as multiple mining and gambling ads. Very wholesome.

The Nightly promised in its first editorial to “fight for the mainstream middle” but the views expressed by the editor-in-chief, Anthony De Ceglie, were demonstrably to the right of centre.

De Ceglie, who is doubling up as the editor in chief of The West Australian, focused on the same targets as he does in his established newspaper: industrial relations reforms and environmentalists. He railed against “industrial relations laws that fly in the very face of economic ambition” and complained that industry is “hobbled by over-zealous environmental bodies which have been overtaken by fanatics”.

There was a good word for his financial backers too. “So much for the entrepreneurial spirit embodied by those tycoons of industry who put us on the map,” he said.

Dore and Shorten among recruits

The Nightly’s headline act – who will deliver “blisteringly readable content” – is one Christopher Dore, the former editor-in-chief of The Australian.

Dore is making his return to writing via The Nightly after he was terminated by News Corp after 31 years, allegedly after an incident at a Wall Street Journal event in California.

Once the most powerful editorial executive in Murdoch’s Australian business, Dore’s first offering was a four-part hit piece on the prime minister. Anthony Albanese, he wrote, “stunned Labor colleagues by ignoring explicit advice warning against declaring the Voice referendum a first-term priority on election night and has been ‘cursed’ by the call since”.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

The copy is almost exclusively unsourced, is littered with expletives _ “It’s fucked the republic now” – and contains “quotes” attributed to Albanese himself in private, such as: “‘The whole point of the Voice was to listen to Indigenous people,’ [Albanese] would tell people, ‘we did that … we had a crack.’”

And: “‘I’ll stand up for my values,’ [Albanese] tells colleagues ‘and I’m prepared to make difficult decisions.’”

Another hire has been Kristin Shorten, an investigative reporter who joins from The Australian where she covered the trial of Zachary Rolfe for the killing of Kumanjayi Walker. Rolfe shot Walker three times while trying to arrest him in Yuendumu, about 300km from Alice Springs. Rolfe was found not guilty in March 2022 of charges of murder and manslaughter relating to Walker’s death.

The inquest into Walker’s death heard on Wednesday that Shorten was a friend of Rolfe’s because her partner was a fellow police officer. According to texts put to Rolfe in evidence at the inquest this week, she messaged Rolfe in November 2019 asking if he was OK after the shooting and telling him, among other things, to “ignore the leftist reporting”. Shorten has not given evidence at the inquest and was approached for comment.

ABC’s critics evenly split

It will surprise no one to hear 51% of all complaints raised by the ABC audience in 2023 related to the Israel/Gaza war.

According to the ABC Ombudsman’s first annual report, 58% of complainants suggested content was pro-Israel and 41% pro-Palestine.

The report found the ABC’s coverage was “professional, wide ranging and reflective of newsworthy events”.

Ombudsman Fiona Cameron, who was appointed in late 2022 and is independent from ABC News, suggested the ABC more clearly set out whether content was analysis, opinion or lived experience.

“While complaint numbers are a useful reflection of audience engagement, often content that is uncomfortable attracts more criticism,” she said.

“The ABC needs to be mindful of this tension to avoid being fearful of delivering on charter obligations to provide innovative and comprehensive programming while being thick skinned enough to clarify and explain decisions, acknowledge
misjudgements and, where appropriate, apologise.”

Strange allies

Of all the words published about Taylor Swift’s The Eras tour last month, you can’t go past Greg Sheridan’s analysis of the “cultural meaning” of the pop star for sheer absurdity.

“I had my rock concert-going days some little time ago,” Sheridan says, before going on to compare Swift to the performers he enjoyed in the 1970s: Billy Joel, Supertramp, Lou Reed and Elton John.

The 67-year-old conservative commentator admits he struggled at first to work out what all the fuss is about because, for a start, Swift is “not the classical beauty”.

The Australian’s foreign editor prefers the “classical beauty” of a Scarlett Johansson, for example. “That’s a superficial quality for sure, but sheer physical beauty is a factor for many entertainers,” he wrote in a piece headlined “Why Taylor Swift’s niceness and joy confounds the progressive left”.

Which brings us to his other point in the 1,200-plus word piece: Swift is, according to Sheridan, hated by the “ideological left”, perhaps because she was “brought up in a Christian home” and is nice. “One reason the left will never finally triumph is that they can never take yes for an answer,” he says. “And they are profoundly offended by any sign of normality, especially in their own ranks, or the ranks of those they expect to find sympathetic.”

Cashing in on Swift

All the newspapers – all the media, in fact – made the most of the Swiftmania by giving readers what they wanted: more Swift content.

According to ABC TV’s Media Watch, the Tele and the Herald Sun won the prize for excess, putting Swift on a combined 28 front pages in February. The two tabloids printed a 12-page ultimate fan guide, an 8-page souvenir concert liftout, a “build your own” lifesize Taylor Swift poster, and another 100-page souvenir edition liftout.

But the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph went one step further, publishing online fan galleries of the Sydney concerts featuring hundreds of happy concertgoers in their Swift attire. In the Herald, you could click on a link to buy a print for $72.

It reminded us of the Daily Telegraph’s innovative “Matildas semi-final fan gallery” last year which was a clever subscription strategy.

If any of the 300 Matildas fans who were photographed had clicked on the gallery to see their photo, they would have hit a paywall, forcing them to subscribe to see the pic.

Channel 10 in mourning

Young staff at Channel 10 who worked with the allegedly murdered roving TV reporter Jesse Baird are really struggling to cope as they come to terms with his death while also working on stories about the police investigation.

“Jesse was so much more than a colleague,” staff wrote in a post on social media. “He was a cherished friend who brightened every day with his positivity, cheeky winks and brilliant smile.

While high-profile staff such as presenters Narelda Jacobs and Angela Bishop have paid tribute to Baird publicly, there are dozens of junior staff who are doing it tough in silence, senior newsroom staff told us.

Unfortunately the redundancies announced by Ten last month continued apace, adding stress to the workforce, sources told Weekly Beast.

ABC’s local content decline

A former ABC senior executive in the television division, Michael Ward, has published an analysis of the broadcaster’s local content over the decade – and it’s not pretty.

Ward, who has just completed a PhD in media and communications at the University of Sydney, found that first release, non-news and current affairs screen content on the ABC’s main TV channel has dropped by 40% in ten years.

Ward says the decline in local content is due to close to $1bn budget shortfall over the period the Coalition was in power.

In 2022-23 the ABC broadcast 630 hours of new Australian programs compared to 1,060 hours in 2013-14, according to the study published by former staffers who call themselves ABC Alumni.

Using the ABC’s own data from annual reports and submissions, the analysis found that across all ABC platforms – including iview and the multi-channels – the drop was about 20%.

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BoM chief says ‘one-in-100-year’ description for natural disasters misleading

The weather bureau has warned against people describing natural disasters as “one-in-100-year events”, saying the term was misleading, AAP reports.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s chief executive Andrew Johnson told a Senate inquiry into Australia’s disaster resilience that while the phrase was often used to convey the severity of incidents like floods, it led to a false sense of security.

Could this country please stop referring to weather events as one-in-100, one-in 1000, one-in-10,000? It confuses the community, it’s very, very poorly understood.

These are complex, statistical engineering constructs that mislead the community … they’re often used as a shorthand way of trying to communicate risk.

They are technically very difficult for the average citizen to understand.

He indicated unprecedented levels of natural disasters had made the job more difficult, with new relationships between the ocean, atmosphere, land and ice, causing the baseline to change.

Our numerical weather prediction systems training … is adapting to those new realities. We are seeing things happen that, certainly since Federation, in the modern experience, we haven’t seen in this country.

While the bureau was looking to upgrade its gauges and detection methods to be more accurate, Dr Johnson indicated replacing the entire network would take a long time.

To do all the gauges, the literally hundreds and hundreds of gauges that need to be done, we sort of have to average two new ones every week for 10 years, it’s a huge effort.

PM leads tributes to ‘most senior backbencher ever’ after senator’s death

Linda White: Anthony Albanese leads tributes to ‘most senior backbencher ever’ after senator’s death

Victorian Labor senator and former trade unionist remembered by colleagues after dying on Thursday night

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The Victorian Labor senator Linda White has been remembered by colleagues as a “torch bearer for equality and a fairer society” as well as being an intelligent force for good.

The former lawyer and trade unionist died on Thursday night after health issues forced her to take leave from Senate duties in February.

The announcement of White’s death came on the eve of the Dunkley byelection, which was prompted by the death of another Labor MP, Peta Murphy, in December.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, paid tribute to his “dear friend” on Friday morning. Albanese said White’s long legal and union careers meant she was often described as the “most senior backbencher to have ever existed”.

“All of our hearts in the Labor family are broken at the passing of Senator Linda White,” a visibly emotional Albanese said.

“Linda was formidable. A beloved friend, a valued colleague, a dedicated parliamentarian and, through all her efforts in the wider labour movement, a devout supporter of working Australians.”

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Albanese said he had visited White in hospital a few weeks ago. She was “doing it tough but in a fashion that’s reminiscent of the courage that Peta Murphy showed during her final weeks,” the PM said.

“She didn’t complain. She asked how the byelection was going. She spoke about her love for Peta Murphy and the loss of Peta.

“She asked for nothing for herself. Except that I keep the visit private. Linda was a deeply private person.”

Albanese acknowledged it was a “particularly tough” time for Victorian Labor.

“To lose two women in their prime within three months of each other is beyond belief. It’s just so sad because Linda White had so much more to give,” he said.

White – who was elected to the upper house at the 2022 federal election – served on a number of parliamentary committees including as chair overseeing the creation of the National Anti-corruption Commission (Nacc).

The Liberal MP Keith Wolahan, who served on the Nacc committee, described White as “principled, fair and hard-working – a patriot of her party and our democracy”.

The Greens senator David Shoebridge, who also worked with White on the Nacc committee, said she was a “fundamentally decent, honest, empathetic and intelligent force for good”.

The employment minister, Tony Burke, said White left an “extraordinary legacy for working people in Australia”.

“Linda campaigned for years in the union movement for paid family and domestic violence leave. As a senator she helped make it law so no one would have to choose between safety and pay,” he said.

The Coalition also celebrated White’s time as senator, with the opposition Senate leader, Simon Birmingham, saying “she made her presence felt as a champion of social and economic justice”.

“The Senate has lost a determined and passionate sitting senator far too soon. A senator who clearly had much more to contribute, but who will be remembered with respect by those who had the privilege to serve with her.”

The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, said White’s legacy would be “elevating the worth of women’s work”.

“Because of Linda, tens of thousands of Australian women are better paid. Because of Linda, their work is not only recognised but rewarded,” she said.

White spent more than a decade as the assistant national secretary of the Australian Services Union before heading to Canberra.

The union on Friday described White as a “torch bearer for equality, justice and a fairer society” and an “irreplaceable part of our union family”.

“We wish Linda could have taken up this fight for longer. However, we are so fortunate to have had Linda in our lives for as long as we did, and that she dedicated so much of her life to building up the next generation of activists.”

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Young Matildas player becomes first professional Australian footballer to come out as non-binary

Young Matildas player Grace Wilson becomes first professional Australian footballer to come out as non-binary

  • Wilson says making announcement came as huge relief
  • Adelaide United teammates had ‘phenomenal reaction’ to news

Adelaide United and Young Matildas player Grace Wilson has been hailed for their bravery after becoming the first professional footballer in Australia to come out as non-binary.

The goalkeeper shared that they are non-binary on Friday amid widespread support from teammates, management and staff at the A-League Women’s club.

“This was the first step in my journey, but I had a phenomenal reaction,” Wilson said.

“The girls were lovely about it and I got a hug from every player. As soon as I said it, cheers, and applause – it was this lovely thing.

“I felt so comfortable and supported, it was probably one of the best feelings.”

Wilson is considered a bright talent and was last month selected in the Young Matildas squad to take part in the AFC Under-20 Women’s Asian Cup later this month in Uzbekistan.

Wilson said their perception of gender does not fit into the western standards of man and woman, and that finally making the announcement came as a huge relief to them.

“Every non-binary person experiences this differently,” Wilson told Holly Ransom, Pride Cup board chair. “As a kid, I didn’t see that things were supposed to be for girls or for boys but I was taught that as I grew up.

“You don’t realise how much of a difference it makes. Being referred to as ‘they/them’ for the first time gave me this euphoric feeling. I just wanted to be free.”

There may be other players in the ALW who identify as non-binary, but Wilson is the first to come out publicly. AFLW star Darcy Vescio became the second AFLW player to come out as non-binary in 2021, following in the footsteps of Tori Groves-Little.

Adelaide United has been vocal in its championing of gender equality in the past, and was supportive of men’s player Josh Cavallo in 2021 when he came out, becoming the only openly gay man playing in any top flight at the time.

At the international level, Canada midfielder Quinn made history when they became the first transgender and non-binary person to appear at either a men’s or women’s World Cup last year.

“Adelaide United Football Club is proud to be at the forefront of this movement, championing equality both on and off the pitch,” a club statement read on Friday.

Adelaide’s head of football, Marius Zanin, said: “We stand behind Grace wholeheartedly and commend their bravery in sharing their authentic self with the world.

“At Adelaide United, we believe in fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all individuals, regardless of gender identity.”

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Young Matildas player becomes first professional Australian footballer to come out as non-binary

Young Matildas player Grace Wilson becomes first professional Australian footballer to come out as non-binary

  • Wilson says making announcement came as huge relief
  • Adelaide United teammates had ‘phenomenal reaction’ to news

Adelaide United and Young Matildas player Grace Wilson has been hailed for their bravery after becoming the first professional footballer in Australia to come out as non-binary.

The goalkeeper shared that they are non-binary on Friday amid widespread support from teammates, management and staff at the A-League Women’s club.

“This was the first step in my journey, but I had a phenomenal reaction,” Wilson said.

“The girls were lovely about it and I got a hug from every player. As soon as I said it, cheers, and applause – it was this lovely thing.

“I felt so comfortable and supported, it was probably one of the best feelings.”

Wilson is considered a bright talent and was last month selected in the Young Matildas squad to take part in the AFC Under-20 Women’s Asian Cup later this month in Uzbekistan.

Wilson said their perception of gender does not fit into the western standards of man and woman, and that finally making the announcement came as a huge relief to them.

“Every non-binary person experiences this differently,” Wilson told Holly Ransom, Pride Cup board chair. “As a kid, I didn’t see that things were supposed to be for girls or for boys but I was taught that as I grew up.

“You don’t realise how much of a difference it makes. Being referred to as ‘they/them’ for the first time gave me this euphoric feeling. I just wanted to be free.”

There may be other players in the ALW who identify as non-binary, but Wilson is the first to come out publicly. AFLW star Darcy Vescio became the second AFLW player to come out as non-binary in 2021, following in the footsteps of Tori Groves-Little.

Adelaide United has been vocal in its championing of gender equality in the past, and was supportive of men’s player Josh Cavallo in 2021 when he came out, becoming the only openly gay man playing in any top flight at the time.

At the international level, Canada midfielder Quinn made history when they became the first transgender and non-binary person to appear at either a men’s or women’s World Cup last year.

“Adelaide United Football Club is proud to be at the forefront of this movement, championing equality both on and off the pitch,” a club statement read on Friday.

Adelaide’s head of football, Marius Zanin, said: “We stand behind Grace wholeheartedly and commend their bravery in sharing their authentic self with the world.

“At Adelaide United, we believe in fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all individuals, regardless of gender identity.”

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  • A-League Women
  • Australia sport
  • news
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Four children arrested over firebombings and burglary linked to tobacco war

Four children arrested over firebombings and burglary linked to Victoria’s tobacco war

Police to question two boys and two girls over Wonga Park burglary and arson attacks on Mill Park restaurant and Ballarat tobacconist

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Children as young as 14 have allegedly been recruited into Victoria’s unrelenting tobacco war, with four teenagers arrested over a series of arson attacks.

Police arrested a 15-year-old Springvale boy, 14-year-old Mulgrave boy, 16-year-old Mulgrave girl and 16-year-old Pakenham girl in simultaneous home raids early on Friday.

They will be interviewed over an aggravated burglary in Wonga Park, along with an attempted arson attack at a Mill Park restaurant and the torching of a tobacconist in Ballarat.

Police say a white Isuzu D-Max and silver Ford Ranger were stolen from a home at Wonga Park in Melbourne’s outer north-east overnight between 19 and 20 February.

The Ford Ranger was then used in a firebombing on the Emerald Reception Centre in Thomastown on 22 February, causing millions of dollars in damage, police allege.

The car was found burnt out about 2.5km from the crime scene in Bundoora less than half an hour later.

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A 20-year-old St Albans man faced court on Thursday over the attack after being charged with two counts of criminal damage by fire, reckless conduct endangering serious injury, theft of motor vehicle and committing an indictable offence while on bail.

Police allege the other ute was involved in an attempted arson at a Mill Park restaurant in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

They claim it reversed towards the front door of the venue and several occupants exited.

The same vehicle was then used the following morning in an arson attack at a tobacconist on Sturt Street in Ballarat, leaving it significantly damaged, police allege.

The ute was later discovered burnt out on Eureka Street.

Taskforce Lunar is investigating more than 30 fires linked to a conflict between warring crime syndicates over illegal tobacco profits.

Det Insp Graham Banks from the taskforce said police hoped the arrests would provide further avenues of inquiry.

“We’re seeing these syndicates recruit a range of people – including children – to commit incredibly serious and violent offences,” he said in a statement.

“This remains of significant concern for police, and we will do absolutely everything we can to target those involved in this offending at all levels.”

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NZ court orders tour operators and island managers to pay $10m

White Island volcano eruption: NZ court orders tour operators and island managers to pay $10m

Court found those responsible for tour had not conducted adequate risk assessments ahead of deadly eruption

A New Zealand court has ordered the tour booking agents and managers of an island where a volcanic eruption killed 22 people to pay survivors more than NZ$10m ($6.1m) and fined them around NZ$2.6m.

Tour operators White Island Tours, Volcanic Air Safaris, Kahu New Zealand and Aerius, along with the corporate owner of the island, Whakaari Management Ltd, were found to have not sufficiently ensured the safety of visitors to the island, court filings showed.

There were 47 people on White Island, also known by the Māori name of Whakaari, when the volcano erupted on 9 December 2019. Many of the survivors were badly burnt by searing gas and ash. Most of the victims were international tourists from countries including Australia, the US and Malaysia.

Whakaari Management must pay compensation of NZ$4.88m, while White Island Tours must pay NZ$5m and Volcanic Air Safaris NZ$$330,000, Judge Evangelos Thomas said on Friday in his judgment in the District Court of Auckland.

The prosecutor for workplace regulator Worksafe had said during the hearing that the tour operators indicated they did not have the ability to pay fines but argued the judge should impose financial penalties even if they were not paid.

Though the tour operators did conduct risk assessments, they were fundamentally inadequate, Thomas said.

“The safety information tour operators provided to their paying customers was wholly inadequate, not sufficiently informing paying customers about the hazards, the risk, the consequences of an eruption,” the judge said.

The five companies involved were either in liquidation, no longer trading, were in a weak financial position or had no assets, the judgment said.

White Island Tours and VASL have insurance cover of NZ$5,000,000 and NZ$300,000 respectively to pay reparations to victims, though they and the other three companies did not appear to be in a position to pay the remaining fines and compensation, the judgment added.

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Steve Coogan and film’s makers sued by academic over his portrayal

Steve Coogan and makers of The Lost King sued by academic over his portrayal in the film

The former deputy registrar of the University of Leicester claims the 2022 movie presented him as ‘dismissive, patronising and misogynistic’

A former deputy registrar of the University of Leicester is suing the makers of the 2022 film The Lost King, claiming it presented him as “dismissive, patronising and misogynistic”.

Richard Taylor was played by Lee Ingleby in the film, which is about the discovery of the remains of Richard III in a car park in Leicester in 2012, more than 500 years after his death. At a hearing in London on Thursday, Taylor’s barrister, William Bennett KC, asserted that his client was portrayed as “devious”, “weasel-like” and a “suited bean-counter”.

Taylor, who left the university in 2013, is shown in the film as antagonistic towards amateur historian Philippa Langley, played by Sally Hawkins, who spearheads the dig and is sidelined by the academic community when they seek to take credit for the discovery.

Langley’s husband is played by Steve Coogan, who co-wrote the script with Jeff Pope. The film was directed by Stephen Frears, who collaborated with Coogan and Pope on the 2013 film Philomena. Taylor is suing the film-makers, as well as production company Baby Cow and distributors Pathe.

In written submissions, Bennett said: “The relevant context is the good versus bad narrative, which runs through the film.

“Ms Langley is portrayed as the gutsy underdog heroine struggling against opposition and the claimant as the arrogant villain.

“He not only takes steps to make sure that people do not know about her role, but takes the credit, which was rightfully hers, for himself and the university.”

Bennett continued: “It’s a straightforward, plot-driven film where everything that is said and done matters.” He later said that Taylor was portrayed as “mocking” Richard III’s disability and “linking physical deformity with wickedness or moral failings”.

In a statement after the release of the film, the University of Leicester contended a number of aspects of the film, including Taylor’s portrayal, saying that it “does not in any way resemble the reality during this period … Our records point to a colleague engaging constructively, collegiately, fairly and professionally throughout the project.”

In October 2022, Taylor told the BBC: “I’m portrayed as kind of a bullying, cynical, double-crossing, devious manipulator which is bad, but then when you add to that I behave in a sexist way and a way that seems to mock Richard III’s disabilities, you start to get into the realm of defamation.”

Andrew Caldecott KC, representing Baby Cow and Pathe, said in written submissions: “It is a feature film, not a documentary. It would be clear to the ordinary reasonable viewer that the film is not a documentary, it is a dramatisation of events. The concept of fictional films based on real events is not a new one.”

Caldecott said the film states it was “based on a true story”, adding: “It is not a literal portrayal of exact words … and would be understood as putting forward Ms Langley’s perception.”

He denied that Taylor is shown as misogynist in the film, adding his “concern is about Ms Langley’s amateur status and lack of historical expertise, and not her gender”.

Caldecott continued: “Whilst the film is clearly strongly critical of Mr Taylor and the university for sidelining Ms Langley at the dig and after the discovery of the body and not giving her sufficient credit, his clear motive is to exploit the discovery to further the university’s commercial interests.

“No reasonable viewer would conclude that his motive was sexism or misogynism.”

Caldecott added that Taylor was not portrayed as mocking Richard III’s disability, “and certainly not mocking disabled people in general”.

At the time of release, the film-makers responded to the University of Leicester and Taylor’s objection by saying: “The university’s version of events has been extensively documented over the past 10 years. Philippa’s recollection of events, as corroborated by the film-makers’ research, is very different.”

In June 2023, the university appeared to have toned down its claims about the extent of its involvement in the discovery. In a press release about the university’s growth, pro-vice chancellor Philip Baker said: “We were involved with the successful unearthing, identification and reinterment of Richard III and now we’re leading the Dickens Code project to decipher the author’s shorthand texts.”

The University had previously said it “led the search” for Richard III’s remains. Taylor is now chief operating officer at Loughborough University. His biography on that university’s website says he “was one of the prime leaders behind the successful search for King Richard III’s remains”.

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Viral TikTok singer dies aged 31

Cat Janice, viral TikTok singer, dies aged 31

Singer had documented her experience with a rare form of cancer on platform and dedicated her last song to her son

Cat Janice, the singer who went viral for dedicating her last song to her son and inspired a viral TikTok trend, has died from cancer, her family confirmed on Wednesday.

Her family announced the news on her Instagram account: “This morning, from her childhood home and surrounded by her loving family, Catherine peacefully entered the light and love of her heavenly creator.

“We are eternally thankful for the outpouring of love that Catherine and our family have received over the past few months. Cat saw her music go places she never expected and rests in the peace of knowing that she will continue to provide for her son through her music. This would not have been possible without all of you.”

Janice was suffering from sarcoma cancer, a rare cancer that develops in bones and soft tissues. She died at the age of 31.

On TikTok, Janice documented her cancer journey and shared with followers that she first noticed a lump in her neck in November 2021, which continued to get bigger. In 2022, it was revealed she had cancer. Although she announced she was cancer-free in July 2022, the cancer returned to her lungs this time and she entered hospice last month.

Proceeds from Janice’s viral song went to her son, a request she made when she learned she would be dying soon.

The song she dedicated to her young song, Dance You Outta My Head, released on 19 January, reached No 1 on the TikTok Billboard Top 50 and was in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. The song has also been streamed on Spotify more than 12m times worldwide.

“I changed all the rights of my songs to my son so I can leave him behind something. I don’t have much,” the singer wrote in a video posted on TikTok on 15 January. She asked fans to pre-save the song.

In her last TikTok video, Janice said she had “always been so strong” and that “spending the last few weeks unable to walk has left me feeling trapped.

“But this helped me remember when I get to heaven,” she continued, “I’m going to dance with God and soar above the clouds and I cannot wait.”

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