Showing posts with label News Corp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label News Corp. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Murdoch and Costello's "recycled press releases by government spin doctors being passed-off as journalism or entertainment clickbait pinched from elsewhere and dressed up as original news content, isn’t going to cut it"

The Northern Rivers Times, 10 September 2020:

If there was ever an indicator that the media is not a one-size-fits-all model, it’s happening right now in Australia. 

And given the monopoly one media organisation has in this country, it’s a pretty reasonable assumption (on the author’s part at least, having been part of said organisation up until a couple of months ago), that they are driving the campaign to make online giants Google and Facebook pay to use Australian news on their platforms. 

But who exactly will benefit from charging Facebook and Google? All Australian media, or just those luddites struggling to implement their particular business model in today’s online media climate. 

Despite what the Federal Government, or more aptly their friend Newscorp, might be proposing to challenge the Facebook and Google news sharing platforms, not all news being shared is created equal..... 

While the media industry preaches that paying for journalism is a must to ensure quality and accountability remains at its bedrock, it’s no guarantee you are going to get either if you do. 

Recycled press releases by government spin doctors being passed-off as journalism or entertainment clickbait pinched from elsewhere and dressed up as original news content, isn’t going to cut it. 

Expecting people to pay for what they can read for free elsewhere isn’t going to cut it. Demanding trust rather than delivering it, isn’t going to cut it. 

Original, well-researched, unbiased, investigative journalism might. And if it doesn’t, well what’s left hardly constitutes journalism does it....

Read the full article here at Page 5.

Monday, 3 August 2020

A grand gesture by James Murdoch which changes nothing on the Australian media landscape

James Rupert Jacob Murdoch has decided to leave his father's toxic media organisation.

The Hollywood Reporter, 31 July 2020:


Former 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch has resigned from the board of News Corp., the parent company of the Wall Street Journal. 

In a letter of resignation filed Friday afternoon, Murdoch wrote: "My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions." 

James Murdoch had been on News Corp.'s board of directors since 2013. News Corp. is one of two media companies controlled by James' father Rupert Murdoch and the Murdoch family. 

The other is Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News and the Fox broadcast network, which was created after 21st Century Fox sold its entertainment assets to The Walt Disney Company. 

Murdoch stepped down as Fox CEO following the sale, with his brother Lachlan Murdoch becoming CEO, and father Rupert becoming co-chairman. 

News Corp., which owns the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, New York Post, News U.K. and newspaper and TV assets in Australia, is run by CEO Robert Thomson. 

After leaving the Fox fold, Murdoch started his own company, Lupa Systems, which has invested in technology companies and other firms. 

Lupa Systems has acquired stakes in Vice Media, tech startup Betalab, and is pursuing a stake in MCH Group, the parent company of the Art Basel fair. 

Lupa Systems and Joe Marchese's Attention Capital also acquired a majority stake in Tribeca Enterprises last year, the parent organization of the Tribeca Film Festival. 

In a joint statement released after the letter was made public, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said "We’re grateful to James for his many years of service to the company. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

Earlier this year James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn issued a joint statement expressing disappointment with the level of climate change denial found in News Corp’s Australian outlets.

James Murdoch became chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting in 2003 at the age of 30, when his father Rupert was still chairman. 

By 2012 after the News of the World phone hacking scandal and the subsequent Leveson Inquiry, U.K. media watchdog Ofcom declared James' ''conduct in relation to events at NGN repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman'' when he was running News Corp's News Group Newspapers.

At that time James was also a director of British Sky Broadcasting Group as well as a director of News Corporation.

He apparently stepped back from any day-to-day roles within the family business at the end of 2018.

His resignation does not imply that he has sold or intends to sell his shareholdings in News Corp or Disney.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Climate change denier Ian Plimer in the news again

YouTube GWPF video snapshot
Former mining geologist Ian Plimer (left) is nothing if not persistent. 

North Coast Voices has been noting his biased, inaccurate & frequently irrational opinions since December 2008.

This was the fall-out from one of his articles published nine months ago.

The Guardian, 24 July 2020:

An op-ed by Prof Ian Plimer in the Australian, which was condemned as blatantly false by climate scientists, has been found to have breached standards by the Australian Press Council. In November, his column titled “Let’s not pollute minds with carbon fears” argued that there “are no carbon emissions. If there were, we could not see because most carbon is black. Such terms are deliberately misleading, as are many claims.”

The article also referred to the “fraudulent changing of past weather records” and “unsubstantiated claims polar ice is melting”, as well as “the ignoring of data that shows Pacific islands and the Maldives are growing rather than being inundated”.

Despite a chorus of criticism at the time, the former editor John Lehmann defended Plimer’s article, saying “his voice is one of many which are important in the mix”.

In a lengthy adjudication the Oz was forced to publish on page two on Friday, the press council said the article contained inaccurate and misleading material in its claims that the Bureau of Meteorology had fraudulently changed weather records and that Plimer’s claims that there was no evidence polar ice was melting were misleading.

The newspaper breached two of the general principles of reporting: ensuring factual material is accurate (principle 1) and ensuring facts are presented with reasonable fairness and balance and opinion is based on fact (principle 3).

The council found that while it would have preferred Plimer’s links to the mining industry were disclosed in the column, the Australian did not breach guidelines in not disclosing because Plimer’s “past or present directorships of mining companies and advocacy in the debate around climate change were so well known” that it was not required.

Plimer is a professor of geology and well-known climate change denier who has served as a director of a number of mining firms, including Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill Holdings and Queensland Coal Investments.

In reviewing the article last November, University of New South Wales professor Katrin Meissner wrote: “This article is an impressive collation of the well known, scientifically wrong, and overused denier arguments. It is ideologically motivated and, frankly, utter nonsense.”….

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

With barefaced lying becoming more commonplace in Murdoch & Nine newspapers, perhaps it's time that Australians consider the Liverpool solution?

The Sun (U.K.) first published in 1965 is owned by News Group Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

For the last 31 years the people of Liverpool in England have boycotted this newspaper because of its barefaced lying about the events of one single day.

In 2016 even some Liverpool taxis carried the boycott message.

The Echo, 19 September 2016
This boycott is said to have markedly affected sales of this newspaper up to the present day.

The boycott is still being regularly reported. 

In November 2019 two academics from Department of Government, London School of Economics & Political Science & Department of Political Science, University of Zurich published a study which suggests the the number of Liverpudlians who did not vote for Brexit was possibly increased in number by the fact that The Sun was not read it that city.

Given how loose-with-the-truth News Corp Australia journalism in particular becomes during election years, perhaps it is time rural and regional communities considered whether they too might like to drive a newspaper such as The Australian or The Daily Telegraph out of their towns and villages.

It is painfully obvious that The Daily Telegraph hopes to step into the print space left vacant after News Corp banished the Clarence Valley's 161 year old The Daily Examiner to a digital website.

I imagine its editor is also hoping to pick up readers in other regional areas along the NSW coast.


The Overtake. 19 July 2018:

After the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in overcrowding, the Murdoch-owned newspaper printed pages of false claims that not only blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster, but accused them of urinating on police officers and other fans, beating up officers attempting CPR, and pickpocketing the dead. 

These reports have since all been proven as fabrication

The effect that the disaster had on the people of Liverpool is huge, not least for those who attended the match, but also those who lost friends and family. 

The saddest of these is Stephen Whittle, known as the 97th victim of Hillsborough. Whittle had work commitments and therefore sold his matchday ticket to a friend, who tragically died there. 

In 2011 Whittle took his own life, with the coroner citing depression and likely survivor’s guilt caused by the events of Hillsborough. Whittle left £61,000 to the families of those who died at Hillsborough. 

In the aftermath of Hillsborough, the city of Liverpool came together to stand up to the figures of authority who were lying to their faces.....

The truth eventually became official record 27 years after Hillsborough, when a jury exonerated the fans of any wrongdoing, and condemned the police present at the match of unlawful killing by gross negligence. 

However, there is still a way to go before the people of Liverpool will consider justice served, as many of the police officers still await trial, and many who attacked Liverpool supporters, including The Sun and Boris Johnson, have only felt repercussions from the fans themselves....

Communities in Liverpool have truly come together and forced a decline in the newspaper’s readership and therefore local sales figures. It makes a lot of sense that both Liverpool and Everton football clubs have banned The Sun’s reporters from press conferences at their stadiums, but the real power of the people is shown by the actions of national companies. 

The fact that supermarkets such as Tesco, which stopped stocking the paper purely due to a lack of demand rather than any political or moral affiliations, say it isn’t worth selling the paper, shows the power of the city and its people.....

The boycott in Liverpool occasionally extends further than Merseyside, usually with travelling Scousers, and is now reaching further with the use of Twitter through accounts such as Total eclipse of the S*n and people encouraging others to hide copies of The Sun when they see it on sale.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

One of Murdoch's minions goes after the ABC & accidentally shoots Sky News, a subsidiary of News Corp

Sometimes even in these dark times the news cycle throws up a quiet giggle.

In the Murdoch-Morrison War on the ABC, Australia's public broadcaster......

First salvo

L'l Scotty Morrison routinely swats away a journalist during a doorstop on 29 June 2020:

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’ve spoken about the need for tax reform out the back of this crisis. Will you consider taking to the next election either an increase in the GST or a broadening of the base of the GST in order to get rid of and decrease other taxes or is that something you would rule out? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what I'm focused on at the moment is the decisions the Government has to make in relation to JobSeeker and JobKeeper and they’re important decisions as we move to the next phase post September. And I've got to say, Andrew, that's where my attention is right now.

JOURNALIST: So it’s something you might consider down the track? 

 PRIME MINISTER: No, Andrew, I'm not going to let you put words in my mouth. I've said what I've said. You know, we're focused on the questions that Australians are most interested in at the moment. And that is, frankly, the next phase beyond JobSeeker and JobKeeper. There is still a lot of work to do there and that's what we're focused on now. 

JOURNALIST: Were you concerned… 

PRIME MINISTER: No, it's not a one on one today, Andrew, there's many other journalists here. I'm happy to give you another one later.

Supporting salvo

News Corp's own NCA Newswire decides this exchange is a perfect opportunity to take another potshot at the ABC:

However there is one small problem with this 'news' report.

Return fire from opposing trenches

And that small problem was at matter of identity:

It would appear that News Corp mixed up Andrew Clennell a political editor over at its own subsidiary, Sky News Australia with an ABC political editor Andrew Probyn.

Thus managing to bring down one of its own media soldiers in a volley of friendly fire.

In future skirmishes perhaps Murdoch's troops could check mugshots before firing off a round - the Andrews are easy to tell apart.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

For years mainstream media have used a presence on the Facebook platform as an easy way to extend digital audience reach. What could possibly go wrong?

There are reputedly est. 15 to 16 million Australians with active Facebook accounts and many in the mainstream media avails themselves of the digital audience this represents by maintaining their own Facebook pages on which they publish newspaper articles with an accompanying comment, image and headline.

News Corp and Nine just found out the hard way that having unmoderated Facebook pages is never a wise choice.

In July 2017 then 20 year-old Dylan Voller commenced defamation proceedings against three media companies owned by News Corp and Nine Entertainment.

This is a news article abot the third and most recent judgment rendered in the ongoing legal saga.....

ABC News, 1 June 2020:

Three Australian media outlets have lost an appeal about a key ruling holding them responsible for the alleged defamation on Facebook of former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre detainee Dylan Voller. 

The 23-year-old is suing Fairfax Media — now owned by Nine Entertainment — Nationwide News and Sky News over comments posted by members of the public in response to articles they placed on their Facebook pages. 

Last year, a New South Wales Supreme Court judge ruled the media companies were publishers of the comments — and therefore liable for them — and the media companies appealed. 

The NSW Court of Appeal today dismissed the challenge and said it was clear the relevant Facebook pages were created on the basis users would be invited to post comments. 

Justices John Basten, Anthony Meagher and Carolyn Simpson said the organisations "accepted responsibility for the use of their Facebook facilities for the publication of comments, including defamatory comments".  
"It was the applicants who provided the vehicle for publication to those who availed themselves of it," they wrote in the judgment. 

'Turning a blind eye' no defence 

The judges said it was not uncommon for someone to be held liable for publishing defamatory imputations conveyed by "matter composed by another person". 

They drew parallels to cases where the owners or occupiers of buildings had been taken to court over defamatory statements on noticeboards or scrawled in graffiti. 

The court is yet to tackle the question of whether the material in question was defamatory. 

In his initial decision last year, Justice Stephen Rothman said defendants could not escape consequences of their actions by "turning a blind eye". 

He also ruled the defence of innocent dissemination was not available because the defendants were first or primary distributors. 

Mr Voller's statement of claim alleges he was defamed by imputations including that he had "brutally bashed a Salvation Army Officer", had raped an elderly woman, that he committed a carjacking and that he had bitten off someone's ear. 

The comments were posted between July 2016 and June 2017 on pages run by the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Sky News, The Bolt Report and The Centralian Advocate. 

Mr Voller's treatment at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which was the subject of an ABC Four Corners investigation in 2016, sparked a royal commission into youth detention facilities.

The judgment in Fairfax Media Publications; Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Voller [2020] NSWCA 102 dismissed the appeal, ordered the applicants pay the respondent’s costs in the appeal proceedings and dismissed the notice of motion of Bauer Media Pty Ltd, Australia Pty Ltd and Seven West Media Ltd filed on 23 August 2019 (the latter three media companies having sought leave to appear as amici curiae in the proceedings).

Sunday, 31 May 2020

News Corp goes digital & withdraws from print media in the NSW Northern Rivers region - with small print 'community' mastheads disappearing entirely

Last year News Corp told its shareholders that: "In addition, the Company has divested and may in the future divest certain assets or businesses that no longer fit with its strategic direction or growth targets."

It seems that such an event came to pass in May 2020, not quite four years after News Corp purchased so many of those print newspapers it is now closing down entirely or reinventing as purely digital news platforms.

Perhaps the clue to this restructuring is in the fact that this multinational media corporation mentioned "loss" or "losses" at least 223 times in its Annual Report 2019.

With News Corp owning 150 print newspapers, at the end May 2019 its readership across all mastheads only appeared to reach a weekly average of est. 7.7 million out of a nation of over 25 million people.

However, the Northern Rivers is the only NSW region being completely restructured - losing five small print 'community' newspapers entirely and six of its print news mastheads becoming digital news platforms only from Monday 29 June 2020.

News Corp Australia, media release, 27 May 2020: 

News Corp Australia announces portfolio changes 

The Executive Chairman of News Corp Australasia, Mr Michael Miller, today announced significant changes to News Corp Australia’s publishing portfolio. 

Mr Miller said that over recent months News Corp had undertaken a comprehensive review of its regional and community newspapers. This review considered the ongoing consumer shift to reading and subscribing to news online, and the acceleration of businesses using digital advertising.  

“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing. Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60 per cent as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, print advertising spending which contributes the majority of our revenues, has accelerated its decline,” Mr Miller said. 

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company. This will involve employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions for our partners.” 

Mr Miller said News Corp’s portfolio review highlighted that many of our print mastheads were challenged, and the double impact of COVID-19 and the tech platforms not remunerating the local publisher whose content they profit from, had, unfortunately, made them unsustainable publications. 

He said the portfolio changes being implemented would mean that from Monday June 29 the bulk of News Corp’s regional and community titles would move to purely digital publishing. 

“More than 375 journalists will be specifically covering regional and community news and information. They will continue to serve, and live in, their local communities with the majority in regional Queensland where we have most of our titles,” Mr Miller said. 

“More than 640,000 Australians, our latest figures show, are currently subscribing to News Corp’s digital news content and subscriptions are growing at an annual rate of 24 per cent. 

“Much of this growth is from local news, where subscribers have more than doubled in the past year. In regional Queensland more than 80,000 people have digital subscriptions and this number has grown by more than 40 per cent this year. 

“I’m confident that these numbers will accelerate through dedicated and constant digital publishing and continuing to serve the local communities whose trust and community commitment the mastheads have developed over decades. 

“Over the past 19 months News has launched 16 new digital only local mastheads. In total we will now publish 92 digital only regional and community mastheads, each offering readers rolling coverage, electronic alerts and newsletters, richer audio and video content and deeper local sport coverage and community debate. 

“At the same time, News Corp’s major mastheads in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – The Courier-Mail, The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun and The Advertiser – will now become more state focused with increased regional content and will partner with our regional and community local titles in their states to ensure we deliver compelling journalism to Australian consumers regardless of where they live. 

Subscribers wherever they live will now have access to the best of News Corp’s local, regional, state, national and international news, sport, features and columnists.” 

Describing the changes being announced today, Mr Miller said: “These initiatives are significant. They will involve fundamental changes to how we operate our business but they are necessary. Together with senior executive and editorial appointments announced recently, they will enable us to be more effective in driving further success in the growth areas News Corp is excelling in such as digital advertising products, solutions and subscriptions and will embed a more collaborative way of working to maximise our sport and news coverage, hyper local digital subscriptions and the success of our all-important weekend editions.” 

Today’s announcements to News Corp’s publishing portfolio will mean some job roles will change and regretfully, will lead to job losses. Mr Miller said that for those employees impacted by the changes, he wanted to thank them personally for their professionalism, dedication and contribution. 

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service. Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial,” he said. 

Commercially, these portfolio changes will make News less complex for its partners to leverage and will build on the innovations it already has in place. 

This includes: 

  • News Xtend which is now Australia’s top digital marketing agency for small and medium enterprises; 
  • News Connect data platform which ensures businesses reach the right consumer segments wanting to pay for their products and services through its specialist ability to access two billion consumption signals from 12 million Australians; 
  • Australia’s number one digital publisher for news, real estate, business, sport and fantasy sport, food, fashion, health and beauty, parenting and women’s lifestyle; 
  • Digital powerhouse which has increased its audience more than 30 per cent in the past two months to more than 12.2 million monthly users; 
  • A leader in audio and video with News’ data now showing award-winning podcast downloads of more than five million monthly and digital video views topping 100 million monthly, up 45 per cent in a year; 
  • Monday’s launch of BINGE entertainment streaming service which joins Foxtel and the Kayo sport streaming service as the nation’s premium subscription broadcasters; 
  • REA Group which is Australia’s clear leader for real estate digital services and investing in Asia and the United States, through its 20 per cent stake in Move, Inc. 

In conclusion, Mr Miller said: “News Corp remains committed to Australia’s regions and communities and the initiatives we are implementing today represent a detailed, considered strategy to ensure we will better serve our journalism to Australians who live outside its major cities. 

“News Corp and its employees also will retain at their creative core their passion for championing, and advocating for an ever improving Australia. As our country emerges in coming weeks from the lockdown enforced on us by the threat of COVID-19 into a ‘new normal’, we will ensure these values that separate News Corp from other media companies are even stronger than ever.” 

Consequently, News Corp Australia is announcing today that: 

Our major regional titles – The Hobart Mercury, NT News, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and Geelong Advertiser – will continue to publish both in print and digitally. 

The following regional titles will become digital only: Queensland – Mackay Daily Mercury, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Gladstone Observer, Bundaberg News Mail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, Central and North Burnett Times, Central Queensland News, Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald. Gatton Star, Noosa News, South Burnett Times, Stanthorpe Border Post, Western Star, Western Times, Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Bowen Independent, news from the towns covered by the Atherton Tablelander, Northern Miner, Post Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Burdekin Advocate will continue to appear, as it does currently, under the regional sections of the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin; 
NSW – Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star; Northern Territory – The Centralian Advocate. 

The bulk of titles in our community groups – NewsLocal in NSW/ACT, Leader in Melbourne, Quest in Brisbane and Messenger in Adelaide – will become digital only. Community print editions were suspended early in April because of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The community titles to be digital-only news services are: Melbourne Leader titles – Stonnington, Mornington Peninsula, Knox, Whitehorse, Monash, Northern, Whittlesea, Maroondah, Moorabbin, Mordialloc Chelsea, Moreland, Lilydale and Yarra Valley, Frankston, Bayside, Caulfield Port Phillip, Cranbourne, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Wyndham; 

NewsLocal in NSW and ACT – Fairfield Advance, Penrith Press, Macarthur Chronicle, Blacktown Advocate, Canterbury Bankstown Express, Central Coast Express, Hills Shire Times, Hornsby Advocate, Liverpool Leader, Manly Daily, Northern District Times, Parramatta Advertiser, Inner West Courier, Southern Courier, Illawarra Star, Wagga Wagga News, St George Shire Standard, Canberra Star, Newcastle News, Blue Mountains News, Central Sydney, South Coast News; 

Quest in Queensland – Albert and Logan News, Caboolture Herald, Westside News, Pine Rivers Press, Redcliffe and Bayside Herald, South-West News, Wynnum Herald, North Lakes Times, Redlands Community News, Springfield News; 

Messenger in SA – Messenger South Plus; Messenger East Plus, Messenger North, Messenger West, Messenger City, Adelaide Hills and Upper Spencer Gulf. 

Three Sydney community titles, Wentworth Courier, Mosman Daily and North Shore Times, which are distributed in the city’s most affluent suburbs, will resume print editions. 

Some small print newspapers will cease publication, but the local journalism coverage of their area will continue, feeding into the digital masthead for their regional community. The regional titles to cease publication are: Queensland – Buderim Chronicle, Caloundra Weekly, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Coolum News, Nambour Weekly, Ipswich Advertiser, Kawana/Maroochy Weekly, Gold Coast Sun, Hervey Bay Independent, Maryborough Herald, Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express, Innisfail Advocate, Central Telegraph; NSW – Coastal Views, Northern Rivers Echo, Richmond River Express Examiner; Tasmania – Tasmanian Country; Specialist – Big Rigs, Rural Weekly, Seniors. 

Additionally, we will streamline our community titles and will publish local stories under their regional or city-based masthead. The community titles which will cease publication are: Leader titles in Victoria – Manningham, Preston, Diamond Valley, Heidelberg, Sunbury Macedon, Progress and Northcote; NewsLocal in NSW – Rouse Hill Times; Quest in Queensland – Northside Chronicle/Bayside Star, North-West News, South-East Advertiser, Southern Star, Bribie Weekly; and South Australia – Messenger Coast Plus. [my yellow highlighting]

Monday, 27 April 2020

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch yells ‘Jump!’ Frydenberg and Fletcher respond by leaping into battle

News Corp is an $8.6 billion corporation run from Sixth Avenue in New York. It is controlled by the (American) Murdoch family. Its exploits over seven decades have been as brutal and Darwinian as any media company in history. It has regularly dispensed “we will wipe you out” threats to small and large competitors across the world. Now, we’re told, “international platforms” who have “no commitment to local communities” are responsible for depriving 60 Australian local communities of the news they have depended on for decades. At some point in Australian history, the malevolent abuse of power by the billionaire family who milks its former colony will be exposed.” [Crikey Editor Eric Beecher, News Corp’s abuse of power must be exposed — and stopped, 3 April 2020]

Australian Treasurer & Liberal MP for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg speaking at a joint doorstop interview on 20 April 2020:

Well, good morning. It’s a real pleasure to be here with my friend and colleague, the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher. It’s time the tech titans were held to account and we had genuine competition, we have a level playing field, we have more transparency and we get payment for original journalistic content. The rise of the digital platforms, and in particular Google and Facebook have delivered real and significant benefits to consumers. But it’s has also been a period of great disruption. And it’s called into question the adequacy of our existing regulatory frameworks and the viability of traditional media outlets. This is why Scott Morrison, when he was Treasurer,= tasked the ACCC to undertake a ground-breaking report, a report that took them 18 months to put together, into the digital platforms. The ACCC led by Rod Sims, produced an outstanding report which made a number of recommendations. Recommendations that the Government has accepted. One of those key areas of focus for the ACCC was to develop a voluntary code between the traditional media businesses and the digital platforms to govern their relationships. Last year, the Government announced that it hoped a voluntary code would be reached by November of this year. Well those negotiations were held and no meaningful progress was made on the most significant component of which the code was to deal with, namely payment for content. And in the words of the ACCC, they did not believe that progress would be made and a deal would be done with a voluntary code. So the Government's taken a decision to move to a mandatory code, with a draft mandatory code to be released by the end of July and to be put together by the ACCC. We hope it will be legislated soon thereafter. We’re very conscious of the challenges we face and that we are dealing with some of the most valuable and powerful companies in the world. In France and in Spain and in other countries where they have tried to bring these tech titans to the table to pay for content they haven't been successful. But we believe this is a battle worth fighting. We believe this is critical for the future viability of our media sector and it's all about competition and creating a level playing field. So together with Minister Fletcher and our colleagues led by the Prime Minister, we will move with the ACCC to put together this mandatory code in the weeks ahead and hopefully it will deliver lasting reform for the sector and importantly, ensure that we have a level playing field into the future…

the ACCC is going to be looking at the method by which the payment for content would occur. There are a number of different options. You can do it on a value option or you can do it on a cost option, meaning that the tech titans would end up paying a fraction of what the cost was for producing that original content every time that they use it. The other alternative is in terms of the value to that particular digital platform that they get from getting eyeballs onto their sites by using that content. So this is to be worked out by the ACCC over the next three months. This is a very significant reform. It’s about holding these tech titans to account. It’s about ensuring genuine competition. It’s about delivering a level playing field. It’s about keeping jobs in journalism, and it’s about ensuring a fair outcome for all….

...these are very profitable platforms so this may eat into their profitability, to the Facebook’s and to the Google’s. But it’s only understandable that they would be paying for that content that they use to get traffic through their websites. You see the way Google and Facebook operate is that they don’t necessarily charge a fee for their service but they attract eyeballs onto their sites and then sell the advertising that goes with it. So this is about ensuring that they are genuinely rewarding and compensating the content that they use….

...but what was clear from the ACCC is that on the key issue of payment for content, there wasn’t a hope that there would be a deal reached between the parties. And the fact that we could not see a light at the end of that tunnel meant that we would move from a voluntary code which was the original intention, to a mandatory code which would be legislated through the Parliament.

One independent media company did not agree with Frydenberg’s assessment of the situation.

Crikey, 23 April 2020:

Earlier this week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher got up and struck a blow for foreign multinational News Corp in its ongoing war with the tech giants that have used innovation and the internet to wreck the Murdochs’ media business model….

...government has recycled demonstrable lies peddled by News Corp about how it is being robbed by Google and Facebook, with the aim of helping prop up News Corp’s failing Australian media businesses….

News Corp charges that when Google (mostly) and Facebook use its headlines and automatically generated “snippets” of News Corp stories on their sites, they are stealing content, and should be made to pay for it via a licence fee that will “reflect the financial benefit digital platforms derive from using snippets”.

It also complains that longer “snippets” deter people from clicking through the attached link to the original story because they get all they need from what’s displayed.

Except the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) digital platforms inquiry found that News Corp’s claims don’t stack up.

Headlines and snippets aren’t theft of content: “generally, digital platforms’ use of article headlines is unlikely to infringe copyright protections in Australia,” the ACCC noted. “Digital platforms reproducing a snippet of a copyright-protected news article does not infringe copyright protections if the snippet does not reproduce a substantial part of the article.”

And the ACCC found that the tech companies, media organisations and consumers all benefit from the use of snippets. Specifically, “media businesses benefit because a snippet provides context and an indication to the user of the value of that content, increasing the likelihood of consumers clicking through”.

Real-world evidence backed this up. “As a result of a German copyright law requiring Google to pay fees to publish snippets from news media websites, Google stopped showing snippets from [media company Axel Springer’s] news articles. Axel Springer noted that the lack of snippets led to a nearly 40% decline in referral traffic from Google Search and an almost 80% decline in referral traffic from the Google News user interface”.

The ACCC also “does not agree that longer snippet lengths necessarily have a negative effect on referral traffic, with users remaining on an aggregator or search platform rather than clicking through to a news media business’s website”. As a result, it did not recommend that a mandatory licence fee be imposed.

Where it did agree with media companies is that they have little bargaining power with Google et al when it comes to the length and composition of snippets. They can block Google from automatically generating snippets, but beyond being able to “opt out”, they have no way of managing them, or maximising click-through.

The ACCC thus proposed the industry-led development of a code of conduct to be agreed between media and tech companies to address this “imbalance of power” and enable media companies to get access to data and negotiate more effectively with the likes of Google.

Such a code of conduct might also cover how revenue is shared “where the digital platform obtains value, directly or indirectly, from content produced by news media”.

How much value do digital platforms obtain from news content? Google doesn’t show any ads on its news feed, and “does not generally sell advertising opportunities next to search queries that are considered by Google as having a ‘news intent’”. In other countries where it has been ordered to pay fees, it has simply stopped carrying snippets if it can’t do so for free. In Spain, it shut down Google News.

Interestingly, the result in Spain — and one echoed elsewhere — was that smaller media sites lost a large volume of traffic while major media sites suffered relatively little loss. 

It would be to News Corp’s considerable advantage if that same result eventuated in Australia, with smaller competitors in an already marginal economic environment suffering a major loss in traffic…..
[my yellow highlighting]