Pro-WikiLeaks attackers left themselves exposed – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Pro-WikiLeaks attackers left themselves exposed
A cyber security expert says Australians who took part in cyber attacks that brought down the Visa, Mastercard and Paypal websites last week might not be aware that they could have broken the law.
Hundreds of members of an online community known as Anonymous deliberately crashed the sites to protest against the companies’ decisions to cut off financial ties with the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.
Computer glitch affects CBA customers – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Computer glitch affects CBA customers
The Commonwealth Bank says a computer glitch is to blame for some business customers being shut out of their bank accounts this morning.
The institution says a computer file which failed to update overnight means some business customers have been unable to access their accounts.
This incident has now been rectified
Cane toad sneakers hopping out the store – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Cane toad sneakers hopping out the store
The Ted Noffs Foundation says it started producing the handmade cane toad sneakers to raise money for its Sydney drop-in centre.
It says cane toad leather seemed the most ecologically sustainable material available.
the charity says its leather supplier is having to buy the cane toad skins in Indonesia because there is no processing factory in Australia.
“I believe that a lot of them actually come from Indonesia,” he said.
“There’s no processing plant in Australia.
The foundation is charging $450 per pair but it looks like they will not be able to keep up with demand.
“We haven’t launched the online shop yet, that goes live in about 48 hours,” Mr Noffs said.
“But people are pre-ordering already.
“I don’t think we expected the response that we’ve got.
Virgin’s video answer to reduce service calls | The Australian
Virgin’s video answer to reduce service calls has selected the same video technology that helped computer giant Dell reduce worldwide customer service calls by 5 per cent. A sample of most frequently asked questions, such as how to decipher monthly phone bills and setting up voicemail, have been made into a series of videos and posted on Virgin Mobile’s website.
The company selected Ooyala’s Backlot platform to upload and encode videos.
Backlot churns out analytics so Virgin Mobile knows the number of people who watched an entire video and at which stage they stopped.
“Once (Backlot is) fully operational we would aim to reduce our customer service call volume by approximately 14 per cent,” the spokeswoman said.
Media chiefs throw support behind WikiLeaks – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Media chiefs throw support behind WikiLeaks Some of Australia’s most senior media professionals, including bosses of major newspapers, television networks and websites, have written to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to express their support for WikiLeaks.
The Walkley Foundation letter said WikiLeaks “is part of the media and deserves our support”.
“To aggressively attempt to shut WikiLeaks down, to threaten to prosecute those who publish official leaks and to pressure companies to cease doing commercial business with WikiLeaks is a serious threat to democracy, which relies on a free and fearless press.”
No R18+ rating for video games yet. Here’s what the key players had to say… | Online Video Games
No R18+ rating for video games yet. Here’s what the key players had to say…
A meeting of the country’s attorneys-general in Canberra last week failed to endorse an R18+ classification for games.
Video game industry
“It’s disappointing that an adult rating for video games will be delayed once again despite mass support from the Australian community, whether it is from adult gamers who want the right to play games that appeal to them or parents who want clear guidelines for their children.
“We’re hopeful that the weight of evidence and the comprehensive research into the matter will ensure an adult rating is introduced when the attorney-generals reconvene.”
Love blossoms for Melbourne couple who met through Twitter | News.com.au
Love blossoms for Melbourne couple who met through Twitter
LAUREN O’Grady and Andrew Sayer might be Australia’s first Twitter love story.
The engaged Melbourne couple met in the most modern of ways – on the social networking site in 2008.
Since Andrew tweeted Lauren’s acceptance of his lounge-room proposal on Saturday, the pair have had congratulatory messages from all over the world.
“It has been crazy, we have had hundreds of congratulations on Twitter,” she said.
“People are now challenging us to organise the wedding on Twitter!”
The Sunshine North couple plan to wed in the next six months, with several Twitter friends invited.
Slim and light Android™ internet tablet
BTW I am a long time listener from Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Really enjoy your show Glenn.
Keep up the good work
ARCHOS 7 home tablet
China erases picture of Nobel winner’s empty chair | News.com.au
China erases picture of Nobel winner’s empty chair
erasing from an internet blog an image of the empty chair that highlighted the absence of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel laureate, from the peace prize ceremony in Oslo.
The image was removed only a few minutes after a lone Chinese blogger posted it on a popular website in defiance of the authorities.
Already empty chairs have begun proliferating in cyberspace
Teen arrested over Visa, Mastercard attacks – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Teen arrested over Visa, Mastercard attacks Dutch police have arrested a 16-year-old who has admitted to staging cyber attacks on opponents of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, the national prosecutor said.
WikiLeaks distanced itself from the cyber attacks but said it was a reflection of public opinion.
States urged to back R18+ games classification – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
States urged to back R18+ games classification The Federal Government is pushing the states to give in-principle support to an R18+ classification for computer and video games.
Robots wait on you in this Chinese restaurant
A food delivery robot shows off the goods at a robot restaurant in Jinan, in China’s Shandong Province (click to enlarge).
(Credit: Cui Jian/ChinaFotoPress)
China is turning out to be the new Japan, judging by all the cool tech stuff it’s turning out, including, now, robot waiters. Sign of the times? At China’s new Dalu Rebot (sic) restaurant in Jinan, patrons are greeted by two robot receptionists and attended by six robo-waiters (and no, they don’t accept tips).
The brains behind the robot restaurant is the Shandong Dalu Science and Technology Company, which plans to roll out more robo-servers for the eatery, which can accommodate 100 diners at the same time.
Since these tin heads don’t have the smarts or sophisticated circuitry of a Biennial Man, they follow a precise tracked route when serving food and drinks. Fortunat
HTC: 60 million handsets anticipated in 2011? | Wireless – CNET News
Taiwan-based news outlet DigiTimes cited “industry sources” Friday in a report that claims cell phone manufacturer HTC will ship 60 million handsets in 2011, triple 2010’s number. It’s unclear as to whether this refers solely to smartphones or whether this also involves yet-to-be-released tablet devices.
As one of the biggest hardware manufacturers producing Android phones (from the successful Droid line to the discontinued Nexus One), this is a promising sign for the Google-built mobile operating system. HTC is also a big manufacturer of Windows Phone 7 devices, with the Surround on AT&T and the HD7 on T-Mobile.
No more information was provided in the DigiTimes rumor except that the sources in question floated the figure at a gathering of handset component suppliers in Taipei.
Navy’s Mach 7 gun can kill from 100 miles away | Technically Incorrect – CNET News
The world can never have enough guns–at least not if they embody exciting new ways to destroy people and things that look wonderful in movies. So here is a weapon that seems to be the sheer personification of gun fun.
It is being tested by the U.S. Navy, and it seems to have some pulsating technical features. It doesn’t rely on an explosive charge to propel a bullet toward a bad guy. Instead, Fox News informs me, it expels bullets along parallel rails. The bullets, thanks to the cheery push of an electromagnetic current, spring out at speeds of up to Mach 7.
Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., the chief of Naval Research, who may possess a talent for understatement, told Fox News: “It’s an overused term, but it really changes several games.”
These would be war games, presumably. For the current distance a railgun might speed its bullets accurately would be around 13 miles. This electromagnetic supermodel seems to offer accuracy of up to 100 miles and counting.
I know that some will be cheered by the prospect that, one day, they could be sitting on a beach far north of San Francisco and be able to shoot down someone or something in Silicon Valley. So they will feel a frisson on learning that today, the Navy successfully managed to effect a 33-megajoule firing, which would seem to be a megajewel in the Navy’s crown.
Those concerned about defense spending should be delighted that this railgun ought to be far cheaper than a conventional weapon. It also means that a ship wouldn’t itself have to carry explosives, which potentially means that it would no longer be considered a potential keg of powder.
The Navy is still working on the electric upgrade needed to make this new gun standard-issue. With every passing day, life begins ever more to resemble a video game. At least gamers are prepared for the future.
Report: LG Star prototype performs well
The LG Star, according to Engadget.
The LG Star, rumored to be the first dual-core Android-based smartphone, was reportedly tested recently by Engadget.
According to the tech blog, which claims to have received the smartphone from a “very anonymous tipster,” the LG Star in its possession was still in its prototype stage.
The device purportedly boasts a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, a 4-inch display, and according to Engadget, might run Android 2.3 Gingerbread when it’s finally released. Overall, the blog said that the Star’s design is quite similar to that of the HTC Droid Incredible, another Android-based smartphone.
Aside from that, Engadget said that the device, thanks to its dual-core chip, performed quite well in benchmarks. Its tests revealed that the gadget’s performance easily bested that of the Nexus One, and nearly doubled the performance of the Motorola Droid X and the HTC Evo, both running Android 2.2. Overall, Engadget said that the LG Star is “in a word, outstanding.”
Rumors have been swirling about the impending announcement of the LG Star for quite some time. In addition to what Engadget is reporting, there is speculation that the device will feature 1080p video recording and an 8-megapixel camera. It’s expected to hit store shelves in early 2011, though LG hasn’t officially confirmed that release date.
LG did not immediately respond to request for comment on the Star’s specs or availability.
YouTube ups upload limit for well-behaved users
(Credit: Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET)
YouTube is rewarding users who do what it asks of them.
The company announced in a blog post yesterday that it has lifted the 15-minute limit on video uploads for “selected users” who have “a history of complying with the YouTube Community Guidelines and our copyright rules.” It seems that those who have violated its terms in the past are still limited to 15 minutes.
YouTube didn’t explicitly say for sure that well-behaved users will have an unlimited amount of time for their uploads, but it did say that if users upload “original content, it’s fair game, regardless of length,” indicating that there will be no limit on those users.
YouTube cited its Video ID and Audio ID service, which identifies copyrighted content uploaded to the site by someone other than the copyright holder, as the main reason for eliminating the 15-minute limit on some users.
YouTube’s Video ID and Audio ID service works by asking rights holders to provide the online video site with reference material that it then uses to compare to uploaded content. The service also allows those copyright owners to determine, prior to the infringement, how they want to handle it. They can choose to “make money from them, get stats on them, or block them from YouTube altogether,” YouTube says on its site.
YouTube first implemented time limits on video uploads in 2006 after facing pressure from copyright holders. At the time, the company set the limit to 10 minutes per video. That limit didn’t change until earlier this year when the company announced that it upped the time limit to 15 minutes.
Google can fix your mom’s PC, sort of
My hamster’s been running an outdated version of Safari and he has no idea how to change it. Thanks, Google!
In what must have been some charitably-minded Googler’s ambitious side project, the sprawling technology company has launched a sort of digital cheat sheet to solve the apparently ubiquitous problem of being asked to fix all variety of PC- and Web-related problems when visiting parents for the holidays.
The site, called TeachParentsTech, lets frustrated “kids” fill out a form that puts together a “virtual care package” to send to parents that will include links to Google video tutorials for all manner of basic tech support issues. In a post on the official Google blog, Googler Jason Toff explained the launch of the campaign.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching my dad how to do stuff on his computer–and he’s fairly tech-savvy as far as dads go–but sometimes trudging through that to-do list gets tedious,” Toff wrote. “Talking to fellow Googlers, I learned that I wasn’t alone in my role as the one-man family tech support team. In fact, I was hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t have a similar story about getting their parents up to speed.”
It could be construed as a tad ageist to assume that the elder generations are universally tech-clueless, which is perhaps why Toff’s post said that it’s really applicable to “mom, dad, your old college roommate, your neighbor or anyone else who could use a little help with tech tasks.”
A bonus for the company: recipients of these “care packages” are then exposed to all things Google, suggesting it for looking up things like movie times, currency conversions, restaurant reviews, and public transportation itineraries. Google rival Bing has done a lot to promote the niche uses for its search engine, whereas Google’s devotion to ultra-simplicity in user interfaces means that explanations for these functions are often nowhere near its main search pages.
That said, there’s a glaring omission: not one word about how to fix a printer.
Strawberry-picking robot knows when they’re ripe
Japan’s strawberry-harvesting robot images the berries before deciding if they’re ripe.
(Credit: Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)
Strawberry fields will forever be changed by robots that can automatically identify and pick ripe berries, according to Japanese researchers.
Developed by the minds at an organization aptly abbreviated IAM-BRAIN (that’s the Institute of Agricultural Machinery’s Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution), the machines can harvest more than 60 percent of a strawberry crop.
Even though each machine takes nine seconds to pick a strawberry, they can cut harvesting time from 500 hours to 300 hours for a 1,000-square-meter field (about a quarter-acre), BRAIN’s Shigehiko Hayashi explains in the video below.
The robots can also pick strawberries at night. There’s more video of the machine at work here, on BRAIN’s Japanese page.
The berry bot has a stereo camera system that images the strawberries in 3D. Image-processing algorithms gauge their ripeness, and if a berry is at least 80 percent red, the machine neatly snips it at the stem and deposits it in a bin.
Japanese farmers are field-testing experimental versions of the robots and testing is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
2010 in review – when two worlds collide | The Australian
2010 saw the convergence of media and telecommunications arrive, the beginning of a vision charted 10 years ago in the dotcom boom.
New distribution models are emerging and look set to ensure the future of the media, from traditional journalism to television, radio and entertainment.
The Australian’s Media team reviews the year.
APPLE took the wrappers off its iPad tablet computer, which broke records in the US, selling a million units in its first month, and ushered in a new way of consuming media. The device didn’t launch until May in Australia, giving The Australian time to become the first major media brand here to launch an app created specifically for the iPad. Others followed suit, including the ABC, Fairfax Media and, later in the year, ACP’s flagship title The Australian Women’s Weekly. By the time News Limited (publisher of The Australian) launched apps for its tabloid newspapers, in November, advertisers were on board, investing more than $1 million in the medium in its first seven months.
THE ABC announced it would launch a 24-hour news channel, but ABC News 24 didn’t get to air until July, in the middle of an election campaign. When Sky News partnered with News Limited for a leaders’ forum at Rooty Hill in west Sydney, the ABC cried foul, saying the live feed was “being withheld by the organisers of the event — Sky News and The Daily Telegraph”. Technical failures from the new Media Hub centre added to the ABC’s woes. The leaders’ debate then had to play second fiddle to the MasterChef finale and was shifted to a night when it didn’t have to compete.
IT was a year marked by brands in crisis, kicking off with one of the world’s largest carmakers, Toyota, conducting multinational recalls of its hybrid Prius cars after they were found to run out of control. David Jones and Qantas would find themselves in trouble too.
KERRY Stokes launched a shock $3 billion merger of the Seven Network with his privately owned earthmoving business, Westrac. Stokes had long kept Westrac — which owns the lucrative Caterpillar franchise for Western Australia, NSW and northeast China — private but decided there was too much in the way of financial synergies to ignore. The deal was not a hit with corporate governance purists, but sailed through a shareholder vote in April.
PROMPTED by a call from The Australian, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy sneaks out an announcement that gifts the commercial free-to-air television networks a $250 million revenue boost in the form of licence fee rebates. The government struggled to come up with a plausible explanation for its benevolence, and the “no strings attached” handout was criticised by other media companies and production houses. But the deal — which covered 2010 and 2011 — is expected to be made permanent.
AFTER more than two years in development, the fate of Australia’s tourism industry was placed in the hands of a social media-driven advertising campaign backed by the line “There’s Nothing Like Australia”. Tourism Australia called on Aussies to upload photos of their favourite locations and create a living online guidebook to the nation. More than 10,000 images were uploaded in the first stage of the campaign, while the country is now transfixed by its latest element, the luring of Oprah Winfrey and 302 of her fans to tape two shows on the steps of the Sydney “Oprah House”.
THE internet established itself as a channel for watching video on your TV set, as the number of telcos, media companies, games console makers and hardware manufacturers offering internet protocol TV services ballooned. Sony began with 15 TV channels on its new Bravia TV sets in February, just as Telstra and Fetch TV were putting the finishing touches to IPTV services of their own. Even Foxtel joined the fray last month, launching Foxtel on Xbox 360, offering a “lite” version of its pay-TV service. While download charges are still an issue for many, with nearly all new TV sets sold now coming with an internet connection, channel online looks like picking up more viewers in the year ahead, potentially at the expense of the broadcast networks.
MEDIA companies, advertisers and analysts slowly began to hope the pick-up in advertising that began in the fourth quarter of 2009 would continue and strengthen throughout the year. While many had been forecasting flat revenues or slow and steady growth for the sector this year, that changed from about March, when the notion the double-digit increases in free-to-air TV advertising could continue throughout the year sparked anticipation of a near-complete recovery from the depths of last year’s global financial crisis, when ad spending slumped 8 per cent. Industry figures for the six months to June show advertising grew 9.6 per cent, and the end of the year is nigh with little slowdown.
DMG Radio Australia reformats its baby boomer Vega radio stations in Melbourne and Sydney in favour of Classic Rock, including Alice Cooper’s night show. At the same time, DMG’s Nova network drops its “never more than two ads in a row” policy as new chairman Lachlan Murdoch begins his hands-on involvement at DMG.
ABC TV announces a restructuring of its business, mimicking the BBC model, in which “controllers” run channels and “heads” oversee genres. The move aims to take advantage of digital multi-channelling and make ABC2 and ABC3 more distinct properties from ABC1, while non-news content creation is divided into fiction (including comedy and drama) and factual, documentaries and multi-platform.
ALTHOUGH in its second year, MasterChef Australia still dominated the TV landscape. The finale broke all records with a massive 4 million viewers. Junior MasterChef was launched to great acclaim. Ten handled the young contestants with great care, and the audience responded. The MasterChef website had 48 million page views, and 13.1 million video views, and a MasterChef Magazine immediately took off. The first MasterChef Live event was held at the weekend.
THE joint venture between John Singleton’s Macquarie Radio and Barrie Quick’s Pacific Star, MTR1377, launches in Melbourne to much fanfare and criticism from The Age newspaper, owned by rival 3AW’s Fairfax Media. The audience doesn’t join the party, though, with the station led by former 3AW program director and 2UE host Steve Price, Steve Vizard and Martin King languishing with a share below 2 points all year, or an average 6000-10,000 listeners. Price’s co-hosts Andrew Bolt, Sam Newman and Jason Akermanis continued to court controversy and Price reiterated the station was in for the long haul. But poor reception and entrenched listening means MTR might not have a hope until Ross Stevenson and Neil Mitchell retire from 3AW.
AS the advertising industry began a recovery from the impact of the GFC, the profit-makers moved in, with the chairman of M&C Saatchi, Tom Dery, and the agency’s creative director, Tom McFarlane, buying back a 20 per cent stake in the local operations of the London-listed agency. After years of reports and speculation, media maestro Harold Mitchell finally sold his business to a multinational, doing a $363m deal with British company Aegis, delivering a windfall to his Australian shareholders and making Mitchell himself a significant shareholder in Aegis. And Clemenger, Australia’s largest advertising agency, which for years had been majority Australian-owned, finally bowed to pressure from minority shareholder Omnicom’s BBDO, agreeing to a full takeover.
THE NRL kicked off the year the way it had so many others, wrestling with a crisis as the Melbourne Storm were revealed to be rorting the salary cap. The revelation forced the sacking of team executives and the stripping of two premierships. Major sponsors were quick to follow, with Members Equity Bank and super company HostPLUS cancelling their deals immediately.
WHEN Seven announced “the biggest singing competition in the world” — The X Factor — was coming to our screens, the industry was underwhelmed. How could a show that failed on Ten work on a different network? Worse was to come for Seven, which hired actor Matthew Newton as host, only to have him drop out and enter rehab before the show went to air. Actress girlfriend Rachel Taylor was later granted a two-year AVO against him. Seven said: “Matthew had a strong commitment to the program — he has tried his utmost to make it work. He has the support of his family and close circle of friends as he works his way back to full health.” The X Factor, won last month by a 35-year-old forklift driver from Sydney, Altiyan Childs, had moderate ratings success but has yet to be renewed for 2011.
THE Australian became the first newspaper in the country to launch its own iPad application after Apple’s much hyped tablet computer finally arrived here. After one day, it was the No 1 news app in the iTunes store and after 10 weeks it had recorded 8500 downloads at $4.99 a month. Since then there has been a steady stream of purpose-built apps for magazines and newspapers, including The Australian Women’s Weekly, published by Nine Entertainment Co’s ACP Magazines, and News’s The Herald Sun.
READERS devoured the debut issue of MasterChef Magazine, by News Magazines (owned by News Limited) as a spin-off from the popular cooking show. The glossy had to print extra copies to meet demand after selling out its initial 260,000 print run in some areas. Other mags launched during the year included celebrity gardener Jamie Durie’s The Outdoor Room by Seven Media’s Pacific Magazines. Closures included NewsMags’ five-year-old women’s glossy Notebook and ACP’s 13-year-old men’s title Ralph.
FOXTEL stole a march on its free-to-air competitors by broadcasting the first television event in the new 3D technology: a pre-FIFA World Cup friendly between Australia and New Zealand. That came just ahead of Nine and SBS’s free-to-air 3D trial broadcast, in which State of Origin rugby league matches and selected FIFA World Cup games went to air in 3D. That came a month after the first 3D TVs, from Samsung, went on sale, with the broad popularity of James Cameron’s Avatar, which was shot in 3D, fuelling consumer interest.
BRUCE Guthrie, the sacked editor-in-chief of News’s Melbourne tabloid The Herald Sun, won $580,808 plus interest and costs in the Supreme Court after suing for unfair dismissal. However, his claim for $2.7m in compensation was rejected. The court found the reason for Guthrie’s dismissal was the breakdown of his relationship with his Herald & Weekly Times boss Peter Blunden. News said it was disappointed with the verdict and payment. Guthrie capitalised on the free publicity with the October release of his memoir, entitled Man Bites Murdoch.
THE Fiji government released The Media Industry Development Decree, a sprawling 36-page document that further tightened state control over local newspapers, radio and television. The decree also had the effect of limiting foreign ownership, meaning News Limited was forced to sell the Fiji Times to local owners. The Fiji Times was the closest thing the Pacific nation came to an independent media voice. “This is deeply sad and a blow to a free press,” said PANPA chief executive Mark Hollands.
DAVID Jones chief executive Mark McInnes was accused in June of sexual harassment, leading to his resignation and a subsequent $37m lawsuit that was later settled out of court. But for many shoppers, the stain on DJs’ reputation remained.
THE new financial year also marked the start of the switchover to digital television in Australia. Mildura in Victoria kicked off the program from the government Digital Switchover Taskforce. Broken Hill in NSW, the Riverland, Mount Gambier and Spencer Gulf regions in South Australia are due to switch over this week.
THERE was a sprint between Seven and Nine to be the first to launch a third digital channel. Seven claimed in August that 7mate would win the race by airing HD coverage of the AFL on September 25. Nine’s Gem appeared the same weekend. By the end of the year we had 15 free-to-air channels. The FTA industry is surprised by just how popular the new channels have been, and how easily consumers have found them. TV executives went from ignoring their importance to embracing them as a way of covering all the demographics by targeting different shows. It was also the year OzTAM began to measure not just what we watched but what we watched later, when time-shifted data was introduced, further complicating the ratings system.
COMEDY duo Hamish and Andy announced their daily top-rating national drive show would go weekly next year, in a major blow to Austereo. Blake and Lee intend to free up time to pursue other opportunities, which were widely viewed as being a show for Ten, although nothing has since been announced. The duo’s success was astounding, even surpassing Austereo’s former drive radio Tony Martin and Mick Molloy’s ratings-storming run, attaining 20 per cent shares in several cities.
THE Labor government confirmed its intention to classify previously unregulated mobile phone apps after a report in Media showed thousands of smartphone games and applications were being sold or distributed without classification checks, in contravention of the National Classification Scheme. The loophole also meant Apple was potentially bypassing millions of dollars in government fees by not submitting apps for classification. Local producer Jigsaw Entertainment also launched a breach of copyright action against Apple for distributing an iPhone application called Chopper Soundboard, which illegally used imagery and audio files of the Chopper character created by Heath Franklin for The Ronnie Johns Half Hour. The matter is ongoing as Apple fights to not be viewed as a “publisher”.
A FEDERAL election was billed as the ultimate sale, and the snap poll called after Kevin Rudd was rolled by Julia Gillard lived up to the hype. As the move to a mining super-profits tax generated heated debate, Rudd’s former adman Neil Lawrence appeared making anti-tax ads for the mining industry. Another former Labor stalwart, John Singleton, also appeared on the sidelines, first linked to a possible Tony Abbott campaign, and then backing another mining industry campaign in the final days of the poll. Meanwhile, a YouTube ad featuring the Coalition as the 60s sitcom The Addams Family was pulled after it breached copyright. And as the year closed we were reminded again of an election campaign characterised by extraordinary internal leaks that help sink Labor’s chances at majority government. Veteran Nine News political reporter Laurie Oakes picked up a gold Walkley last week, in part for his questions of Julia Gillard on the eve of the election. Who will forget: “Is it also true that you agreed this offer was sensible and responsible?”
TEMPERS flared in the blogosphere after the Media section revealed Canberra public servant Greg Jericho as the author of the political blog Grog’s Gamut. It came to wider attention when ABC boss Mark Scott said it had influenced the broadcaster’s thinking on its federal election campaign coverage. The story triggered a fierce debate, mainly conducted on Twitter, on the rights and wrongs of “outing” and the issue of online anonymity. Jericho continued to blog and has since embraced his relative renown, posing for a photo shoot and being interviewed for a profile story in a recent issue of the Canberra CityNews.
THE Interactive Advertising Bureau finally called a tender to appoint a single audience measurement provider — the online equivalent of TV ratings collector OzTAM. It was a long time coming, five years after the establishment of the IAB. Twenty-one companies provided initial expressions of interest in the tender. Submissions are due at the end of this week, with a winner appointed by June for a three-year term.
THE fourth Mad Max film postponed filming until 2012 in the latest body blow to an industry without any major international productions shooting in Australia. The rising Aussie dollar killed the runaway film sector in Australia, with blockbuster Battleship the latest US film to abandon plans to shoot here because of cost and uncompetitive government incentives. Meanwhile, key Australian crew members negotiate separate contractual bargains with the Fox studio to ensure the Steven Spielberg-produced US TV series Terra Nova shoots in Queensland.
BRETT Chenoweth was the surprise appointment as APN’s new chief executive. The move crystallised the decline of Ireland’s Independent News & Media’s influence over the regional media group. Chenoweth, who replaces Brendan Hopkins at the end of this year, has a telecommunications and finance background and no ties with IN&M. IN&M, which owns 32 per cent of APN, faced pressure from shareholders earlier in the year to reduce its influence on the board.
THE Australian actors and journalists union, the MEAA, drew fire, and its rep Simon Whipp became a whipping boy, as director Peter Jackson launched an attack on it, and Australia, for trying to nobble The Hobbit. International acting guilds, led by the MEAA, called for actors to boycott Jackson’s Lord of the Rings prequel, a US studio film to be shot in New Zealand, until it could strike a collective employment agreement with conditions similar to those enjoyed by actors in Australia, the US and Britain. Jackson labelled the boycott the act of “a large Aussie cousin kicking sand in our eyes” and born from our jealousy of New Zealand’s thriving industry. Currently, Cate Blanchett is the only Australian cast in the film.
JAMES Packer made a dramatic return to free-to-air television by taking an 18 per cent stake in Ten in a shock sharemarket raid. Packer, who ended his family’s half-century association with Nine in 2008, decided that maybe television wasn’t such a bad investment after all. It certainly lifted his profile. The investment triggered a series of corporate moves at Ten including the resignation of long-term executive chairman Nick Falloon and the emergence of mining magnate Gina Rinehart as a 10 per cent shareholder. Packer went on to sell half his stake to Lachlan Murdoch, while WIN TV owner Bruce Gordon upped his holding to 14 per cent.
THE mid-air failure of an engine on its flagship A380 Superjumbo plunged Qantas into crisis as its safety record was called into question. With continuing revelations about how close it was to losing the jet, Qantas is still trying to measure the full impact to its brand.
NINE boss David Gyngell became one of the most powerful media executives in the country after replacing PBL Media chief executive Ian Law. The change was presented as a resignation but there seems little doubt Law was pushed. Mr Gyngell was clearly seen to be the right man to sell the upcoming float of PBL by the company’s private equity owners CVC Asia Pacific. He had also been linked to Ten after the investment of his best friend, James Packer. “I’ve been back at Channel Nine for three years and my intentions were always to stay at Channel Nine,” Mr Gyngell said. “Channel Ten is a nice little business but it ain’t PBL Media. I never wanted to go there.” Mr Gyngell went on to convince Daniel Petre to join the board as well as scrap the historic PBL name and replace it with Nine Entertainment Co.
THE Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity backs The Australian’s handling of a story on the Operation Neath anti-terror raids in Melbourne last year. The Australian was praised in the report for its handling of journalist Cameron Stewart’s uncovering of the impending raids by the AFP and Victoria Police. This was despite Victorian Chief Commissioner Simon Overland claiming police lives had been endangered by the coverage.
TWITTER was again in the news after The Australian editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell took legal action against journalism academic Julie Posetti over allegedly defamatory posts published by her about him on the microblogging site. Media lawyers dismissed claims the action was “Australia’s first Twitter defamation case” or potentially precedent setting, but said they hoped it would serve as a timely warning for social media users that what they wrote exposed them to the ordinary rules of defamation law. To date, the legal dispute remains unresolved.
ONE of the biggest political decisions affecting the media industry was expected to be finally settled when Communications Minister Stephen Conroy fronted cameras to explain how sports TV broadcasts in Australia would be regulated. The rigid so-called anti-siphoning list guaranteeing most sports are shown first on free-to-air TV was loosened a little. The new rules mean the major networks still get first dibs on sports that matter, so the anti-siphoning basically remains in place despite all the rhetoric about reform. As long as pay-TV reaches only a third of Australians, nothing will change. And the issue of who gets to divide up AFL and NRL games between free-to-air and pay-TV is still to be resolved.
FOR media companies it was not a year for strategic drift and the end came quickly for Brian McCarthy, chief executive of Fairfax Media, publisher of prestige titles such as The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald, and owner of radio stations 2UE and 3AW. He was dumped as chief executive but the Fairfax board compounded its woes by not having a replacement ready. Instead, it installed Greg Hywood, a longtime Fairfax editorial executive, as “acting CEO”. Most expect he will get the job eventually.
JULIAN Assange is arrested and not allowed bail on sexual assault charges while his WikiLeaks site causes huge embarrassment to the US and governments around the world, including Australia, where secret US cables described former PM and current Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd as a control freak.