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World of the News

Posted: September 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: World of the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

World of the NewsThe global behemoth that is News (Ltd + International) is creeking and groaning under it’s own size as it attempts to reform itself for the digital age, changing the way it does business, answering for the way it’s done business and comes to terms with the trouble it’s had downsizing it’s business.

In the UK, the saga of phone-hacking goes on with Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks has appeared briefly in a London court, accused of conspiring to hack phones. As well as Brooks, former legal manager of Rupert Murdoch’s News International has been arrested in connection with the phone hacking scandal. In Australia the behemoth has not announced that up to 80 more editing and reporting jobs will be cut from News Limited, including dozens across Queensland.

The once golden Nine stable of multimedia products has dipped further into trouble times. Nine Entertainment has announced the sale of ACP Magazines- Australia’s largest stable of print based media –  to German media giant Bauer. The sale is reported to be worth about $500 million and is expected to be finalised in the next one to two months.

Mega wealthy – non-smoking tea toatler – Gina Rinehart puts her 50c $2 worth into the cost of labour debate.

No post would be complete without comment on Julian Assange, his latest antics – stuck within the shrinking walls of the Eucadorian Embassy in London – Mr Assange, or Our Jullian as we like to refer, is prepping himself for a 12 month camp-out as he steadies himself for waht looks like a very long fight. At what point does one need to ask the question; ‘surely he’d be done with the fight if he’d gone to Sweden 3 years ago?’

In proof that there is still some value in old-school communication devices, a Scottish fishing boat’s skipper has found a message in a bottle, 98 years after it was released. The bottle was released by the Glasgow School of Navigation in 1914 as part of an experiment to map the currents in the sea off the Scottish coast ::::

World of the News - Message in a Bottle

The bottle turned up in a fishing net east of the Shetland Islands off the Scottish Coast, beating the previous record for the longest time a bottle has been adrift at sea by more than five years.

In a gorgeously ironic cincidence, the bottle was discovered by the same vessel that found the bottle which set that previous record. Skipper Andrew Leaper says it is like winning the lottery twice.

Guinness World Records says it is a fascinating record, both historically and scientifically. The drift bottle contained a postcard which promised a reward of six pence to the finder. The Glasgow School of Navigation released 1,890 bottles in 1914. Only 315 have been found and returned, so there is the chance in coming years a Scottish drift bottle could again break the world record.

NEWS CORP

The Dirty DiggerRupert Murdoch’s ball of tangled twine seems to have become even more entwined than was previously thought possible. Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks has appeared in a London court, accused of conspiring to hack phones. Brooks quit as head of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper arm last year amid a hacking scandal that has raised questions about the links between Britain’s media, politicians and police. Brooks, 44, appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London.

Brooks spoke to confirm her name and address and her understanding of the charges against her. Brooks has yet to enter a plea but has previously denied either authorising or being aware of phone hacking and promised to “vigorously defend” herself against the allegations.

Brooks is facing one general charge, which prosecutors claim could affect more than 600 alleged victims, and two other specific charges linked to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and former trade union boss Andy Gilchrist. The charges, which carry a maximum punishment of two years in jail, relate to her time as editor at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid. She has been accused alongside six other former News of the World staff and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

The offences allegedly occurred between October 2000 and August 2006. Brooks and her fellow defendants are due to return for a further hearing at Southwark Crown Court in south London on September 26. Brooks remains on bail with the conditions that she should not contact co-defendants nor travel abroad without notifying police.

News of the World’s involvement in phone hacking first emerged in 2005 when aides to Britain’s royal family realised that their voicemails had been intercepted after private stories appeared in the tabloid.

After a now much-criticised police investigation, the paper’s royal correspondent and a private detective were jailed. Following those convictions, Mr Murdoch’s British newspaper unit News International maintained for years that only a single “rogue” reporter was to blame. However, police launched a fresh investigation in January last year that led to the current charges.

Joining the News tangle, is former legal manager of Rupert Murdoch’s News International who’s been arrested in connection with the phone hacking scandal. Barrister Tom Crone, 60, was being held at his home on suspicion of intercepting communications, and has been taken for questioning at a police station. Mr Crone – the legal executive at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid – is the 25th person to be arrested in the investigation.

Crone gained prominence in the Leveson Inquiry when he contradicted the evidence of James Murdoch about exactly when the former executive chairman of News International knew the hacking scandal involved more than one rogue reporter.

In all, more than 70 people have been arrested as investigations continue into phone, and computer hacking, and corrupt payments to officials. Among them are former editor and prime minister David Cameron’s ex-media chief, Andy Coulson, and Rebekah Brooks, who oversaw Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper arm, News International.

The scandal has not only rocked News Corp, it has put the notoriously aggressive British press under the spotlight and embarrassed senior politicians, including Mr Cameron, over their often cosy ties with the Australian-born businessman.

Mr Crone resigned from his post in July last year at the height of public anger over the hacking revelations. He subsequently fell out with Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch, who he accused of giving false information to a parliamentary committee about an email in 2008 which indicated hacking was widespread on the tabloid.

James Murdoch has denied knowing about the full scale of the problem until it became apparent last year and said Mr Crone himself had misled politicians. At a public inquiry into Britain’s newspaper industry ordered by Mr Cameron in the wake of the outcry over phone-hacking, the elder Murdoch blamed a culture of cover-up on Mr Crone, an allegation the lawyer described as a “shameful lie”.

The arrest comes as senior judge Justice Brian Leveson prepares to deliver the findings from his 10-month inquiry into press ethics after hearing evidence from hundreds of witnesses, including many who condemned papers’ tactics and behaviour.

One newspaper editor says Mr Leveson had sent a letter to major newspaper groups giving them advance warning of possible criticism in his final report, calling it a “damning indictment” of the industry.

“The best way I can describe it is that he’s loading a gun, and this document, well over 100 pages, is all the ammunition,” Chris Blackhurst, editor of the Independent, told BBC radio, adding he was worried about the inquiry’s outcome. “Believe you me there is plenty of ammunition – you read it and you just gulp.”

In Australia, Mr Murdoch’s empire of underlings is quickly shrinking with up to 80 more editing and reporting jobs will be cut from News Limited, including dozens across Queensland. The company is making positions redundant from its sub-editing hub called News-Central as well as at several newspapers. Subbing of local newspaper copy will be outsourced to publishing business Pagemasters. The Media Alliance says it is a significant loss to the journalism profession. It says a total of 700 jobs have gone from News Limited and Fairfax since the start of winter.

In June this year, News Limited made its first round of job cuts. The media behemoth let 115 positions go from newsrooms, library and support services. Australian unions, including the powerful  ACTU said that Mr Murdoch’s company had broken its promise to consult fully with the unions before taking action. The journalists’ union, the MEAA, said that the News Limited announcement was sudden and unexpected, that up to 70 jobs went from its digital media section, about 30 staff at the Cairns Post and the Townsville and Gold Coast Bulletins have been told their jobs went.

When News Limited announced its restructure, ACTU secretary Dave Oliver was optimistic the company would consult with the unions before cutting jobs. But now his view has changed.

“Well it’s a very disturbing development,” Oliver said. “We’re clearly of the view that consultation is engaging with relevant parties before a decision is taken. And we’re extremely disappointed that their view of consultation is one about taking a decision and then informing people after the fact.”

Oliver says News Limited needs to provide unions with an overview of the restructure.

“The same way that the unions requested information from Fairfax, no different to the kind of information we want from News Limited,” he said. “We want to see what the business plan is, what these companies think the restructuring will look like going forward, what does it mean for their future operations across all the sectors, whether it’s in journalism, whether it’s the printers, whether it’s at call centres or the design centre. And we’re clearly of the view that that process has to be undertaken in good faith. But I can certainly say the action of News Limited yesterday is by no means an action of good faith.”

And the union leader accused News Limited CEO Kim Williams of going back on his word to consult with staff.

“Here we had the CEO of this company quite publicly come out and say that they would be involved in a process of full transparency, disclosure and consultation. Now without that processing occurring they’ve wielded the axe and that’s just a totally unacceptable position,” he said.

The MEAA says it is surprised that staff working for News Limited’s digital section are among the first to lose their jobs, saying staff there should have felt confident they would play a big role in the restructured company.

The union also says News Limited should not “pick off” small groups of employees. A spokesman for News Limited declined AM’s request for an interview, but confirmed that 115 editorial, sub-editing, support and library services roles were being made redundant. Staff at the Cairns Post and the Townsville and Gold Coast Bulletins said head office had told them not to speak to the media.

NINE

NINENine Entertainment has announced the sale of ACP Magazines to German-based media giant Bauer. The sale is reported to be worth about $500 million and is expected to be finalised in the next one to two months. ACP publishes 52 titles in Australia, including the Australian Women’s Weekly, Cleo, Madison and Zoo Weekly.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, first published in 1933 by Frank Packer, is Australia’s biggest selling monthly magazine.

Nine did not shed any light on job losses, but says the impact on ACP’s operations is expected to be minimal. In a statement, Nine chief executive David Gyngell said the decision would allow Nine to focus on its “core” television and digital businesses. Bauer is based in Hamburg and publishes more than 300 magazine titles across continental Europe and the UK.

The Australian Women’s Weekly and the stable of Australian magazines first created by Sir Frank Packer have been sold to a German media empire. Analysts are divided over whether the price represents a fire sale bargain or a clever deal by Nine Entertainment in a depressed advertising market. The Women’s Weekly is almost 80 years old and has a unique place in Australian media.

“They are the top selling and best known magazines in Australia – the Weekly, there’s Women’s Day, there’s Harper’s Bazaar, Cleo, Cosmo, TV Week has been around forever,” said Mark Day, former Playboy editor for ACP and now media columnist for The Australian. “I would imagine it would be Bauer’s intention to continue to publish them, and maybe you’ll see the introduction of some of their other, more profitable titles from overseas,”

World of the News - Nine Sells ACP - Womans Weekly

Channel Nine reportedly sold off it’s stable of print for $500 million, $100 million less than it initially asked. Respected industry insider, media buyer Harold Mitchell does business with Channel Nine’s owner and says it was a great deal. “This is an absolute game changer for the organisation which has been the owner over a period of time,” he said. “I’m sure any seller would want more all of the time, but in a market like this, the advertising market has gone flat. It was always getting to this point. It will ultimately return and it’ll be strong again but, in the short term, it’s not going to be good,”

Mr Mitchell says it seems like it is positive for Nine, despite reports it was originally asking for $600 million.

“Magazines have been a wonderful, wonderful asset over such a long period of time that the Packer family had put together, but time does move on. To have a free-to-air network, to have the Rugby League rights all lined up and to have the digital assets to it that they can bring to bear, is what the future’s all about. Magazines have been solid, they can now concentrate on the main business that they’ve got.” Mr Mitchell said.

While he agrees it means Channel Nine can focus on its TV business, Mark Day is not convinced it was the best price.

“Nine was asking $600 million and they were adamant that they weren’t going to sell if they didn’t get their price. Well the word around the traps, what we’re hearing is that it was $500 million,” Mr Mitchell observed. “I think that indicates that Nine was pretty desperate to sell because they went into this deal carrying $2.8 billion in debt. They’ll pay this $500 million or thereabouts to pay off the debt. Well they’ve still got $2.3 billion which has to be refinanced by February next year. The US hedge funds, who control about a billion dollars of it which will be about half of their debt, they will have the right to convert that into equity and they could well become the controllers of Australia’s Nine Network.”

Australian Shopfront Retail Sales Flatlines

RETAILAustralian retail has taken a bit of a bagging over the last 12 months, flatlining, then lifiting by a point or two, then flatlining. Our least favourite bricks and mortar retailer Harvey Norman has seen it’s annual profit drop by about a third due to falling prices for television and technology products. The retailer posted a near 32 per cent drop in net profit to $172.5 million for the 2012 financial year.

Many analysts had hoped that the 0.6 per cent rise in May and 1.2 per cent jump in June marked something of a turning point for retail sales, and analyst forecasts centred on a modest 0.2 per cent rise to consolidate the previous gains. However, the Bureau of Statistics July figures seem to confirm that much of the June rise was due to carbon tax compensation payments from the Federal Government being spent.

As a barometer, Harvey Normans before tax profit was down 39 per cent to $227.4 million, which is basically in line with its unaudited pre-tax profit announced on August 6 when it released its full-year sales figures. Harvey Norman chairman, Gerry Harvey, described the result as “very disappointing”, blaming steep discounting by competitors that collapsed or closed stores.

“Retail categories, specifically the television and some technology categories, have been under enormous pressure with price and margin deflation,” Mr Harvey noted in the report. “The liquidation of WOW Sight and Sound (turnover approximately $225 million), the closure of numerous Retravision stores and the restructure of the Dick Smith brand (resulting in a Dick Smith provision of $420 million) created a glut of product being sold at never before seen prices.”

The largest fall in retail sales came from department stores, which saw sales plummet 10.2 per cent in July, the largest decline for that segment since April 2005. While the fall came on the back of a strong rise the previous month, the ABS says department stores have been the worst-performing retail sector over the longer term, with trend sales down 0.5 per cent.

The detail showed a particularly disturbing decline for department stores with sales down a whopping 10.2 per cent, made worse by the significantly smaller gain through the [stimulus] boosted months (sales rose 5 per cent in May-June) and suggesting this has concealed a further deterioration in this struggling segment Westpac’s economists warned.

Hospitality was the exception with Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food being the best longer term performers, with sales up 0.8 per cent in trend terms, and 0.3 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in July. Household goods retailing had a strong month in July, with sales rising 2.4 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms. Clothing, footwear and personal accessories retailing (down 0.9 per cent) and ‘other retailing’ (-2.8 per cent) had a weak month in July.

At the other end of the retail spectrum, a private survey has found the growth of online sales is continuing to easily outpace the growth of in-store sales. The amount of money spent online rose around 25 per cent in July compared to a year earlier.

NAB’s Online Retail Sales Index found internet sales made up 5.3 per cent of total retail spending in the year to July, at $11.7 billion. The report found online sales from international retailers grew at a faster pace than those from domestic online shops in July.

However, domestic online retailers still dominate, accounting for 72 per cent of all internet sales in Australia. NAB’s chief economist Alan Oster says there was a broad pick-up across all online categories in the period, including department stores.

“I think what’s happened is that people have received the compensation package for the carbon tax and also the school compensation so, in other words, the sort of things that were associated with the budget have been essentially spent,” Mr Oster said.

Mr Oster says consumers held back from both online and traditional shopping in the first half of the year, as concerns about the eurozone’s debt problems dragged on consumer confidence.

“Up until May this year, even online, electronics and home furniture was negative in terms of growth rates,” Mr Oster said. “So the consumer is using online just the way they’re using traditional retail, in other words, they’re pulling back if they’ve got discretion.”

Assange Plays Patience

World of the News - Julian AssangeIt wouldn’t be a news roundup without a Wikileaks comment. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange optimistically says that he expects to wait up to a year for a deal to free him from Ecuador’s embassy in London and is hopeful Sweden will drop its case against him.

Talks over his fate resumed this week, with Ecuador’s government saying it will be able to strike a deal with Britain that will guarantee Mr Assange will not be further extradited from Sweden to the United States. Mr Assange told Ecuador’s Gama television network that he thinks the situation will be solved through democracy.

“The Swedish government could drop the case. I think this is the most likely scenario,” Assange said in the interview recorded earlier this week. “Maybe after a thorough investigation of what happened they could drop the case. I think this will be solved in between six and 12 months; that’s what I estimate.”

In a diplomatic spat between countries, Britain says it is legally obliged to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden and that it will not allow the 41-year-old Australian to leave the embassy and travel to South America.

But Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said he was optimistic the British government would agree to give Mr Assange written guarantees that he would not be extradited from Sweden to any third country.

Ecuador has said if Mr Assange received such assurances, then he would decline their offer of asylum and hand himself over to Swedish prosecutors. Asked during the interview if he would travel to Sweden under those conditions, Mr Assange was non-committal.

“At some point, if the way has been paved … it would not be correct to hold me in prison (in Sweden) without charges,” Assange said.

A veiled British threat to enter the embassy to arrest Mr Assange angered Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa. But last weekend Mr Correa said the threat had later been lifted and he considered the “unfortunate incident” over. In another sign of thawing tensions, Ecuador’s vice president, Lenin Moreno, met British foreign secretary William Hague this week, but breaking a deal will take time.

“Given Ecuador’s position on what they call diplomatic asylum and our very clear legal position, such a solution is not in sight at the moment,” Mr Hague told the BBC.

Gina Rinehart’s 50c $2 Worth

The world has seriously been building to this opinion, it’s been wanting to spill from the mouth of Ms Rinehart since her botched take-over attempt of Fairfax Media. Ms Rinehart has used a rare video appearance to repeat her warning that Australians need to work harder to compete with Africans who will labour for less than $2 a day.

youtube video

youtube video

In a reference to BHP Billiton’s reasoning for shelving its Olympic Dam expansion plans, Mrs Rinehart says companies are “running a ruler” over their investments because of cost overruns and low productivity. Yesterday, Fortescue Metals Group announced it was deferring some expansion projects and cutting costs, although its reasoning for the move was focused on a slump in iron ore prices rather that cost overruns.

GINASpeaking in video posted on the Sydney Mining Club’s website to discuss the recently signed enterprise migration agreement which will allow her to import 1,700 foreign workers for her Roy Hill Iron Ore project, Mrs Rinehart says Australians should not be complacent about the investment pipeline, given that African labourers will work for less than $2 a day.

“Business as usual will not do, not when West African competitors can offer our biggest customers an average capital cost for a tonne of iron ore that’s $100 under the price offered by an emerging producer in the Pilbara,” Ms Rinehart said. “Furthermore, Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.”

The comments come after Ms Rinehart said last week that Australians need to work harder and socialise and drink less. These fresh comments drew immediate criticism from Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“We are not going to have wage rates the same as the wage rates in Africa. We’re not going to compete on those kinds of cost differentials,” the Prime Minister told Linda Mottram on ABC 702 local radio in Sydney. We’re going to compete on our great mineral deposits, our application of technology and high skills to the task. We mine differently than in other countries.” Australia’s  Prime Minister Gillard said.

source: afp
source: reuters
source: abc

One Comment on “World of the News”

  1. 1 renovation planning » Blog Archive » World of the News said at 11:26 pm on September 4th, 2012:

    […] In proof that there is still some value in old-school communication devices, a Scottish fishing boat’s skipper has found a message in a bottle, 98 years after it was released. The bottle was released by the Glasgow School of Navigation in 1914 as part of an experiment to map the currents in the sea off the Scottish coast  :: Read the full article »»»» […]