Category: International

Stormy Times at Fairfax Media

| June 1, 2012

By Trevor Smith
Australia Bureau Chief

BYRON BAY, NSW – Fairfax Media Limited is one of Australia’s largest diversified media companies. The group’s operations include newspapers, magazines, news/talk radio stations 2UE, Sydney; 3AW, Melbourne; 4BC, Brisbane; and 6PR, Perth as well as digital media operating in Australia and New Zealand. Fairfax Media was founded by the Fairfax family as John Fairfax and Sons, later to become John Fairfax Holdings. However, the family lost control of the company in December, 1990. The group’s chairman is Roger Corbett and the chief executive officer is Greg Hywood.  As of May 2008, Fairfax Media had a market capitalization of over A$5 billion.  By September 2011, this had fallen by more than 60% to less than A$2 billion.

In early February, 2012, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, Australia’s wealthiest person, increased her shareholdings to over 14% of Fairfax Media to make her the group’s largest non-institutional investor.

On Friday, May 25, Fairfax Media was embroiled in an editorial interference row after a director complained about one of its top radio presenters who had criticized the company for denying the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, a seat on the board.

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Trouble in Paradise: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne

| March 12, 2012

By Trevor Smith
Australia Bureau Chief

“I wish we were here for longer but we’re not…thank you for listening, and maybe we will meet some other day down the line,”  were the final words uttered by Luke Grant on 3MTR at 5:00 pm Friday, March.  Then the station closed down.  The AM 1377 frequency is now simulcasting the MyMP Digital Radio easy memories music program – with no paid commercials, no announcers and no news – presumably as an interim solution until the joint venture partners decide what to do with the failed Melbourne talk station.  Administrators have been appointed to the MTR business joint venture.

“Okay, I’m really sorry, I thought that I was still doing one last bulletin…Okay, no worries at all.  I’m so sorry.  I know you guys have worked your butts off, and no matter, whatever the ratings were, one way or the other doesn’t change the way you do your day…I’m really sorry.  No worries, bye-bye,” were Amie Meehan‘s final words from the Sydney newsroom.

Then there was some switching, and the SEN sport station feed went to air for a while, then it was switched back to MyMP.

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Derryn Hinch’s Return Tops News from
Down Under

| January 27, 2012

By Trevor Smith
Australia Bureau Chief

BYRON BAY, NSW –– Further to our October article about Derryn Hinch “The Human Headline,” Derryn triumphantly returned to the airwaves on Melbourne’s 3AW on December 22 last year.  Hinch’s switchboard on the first program back was packed with well wishers and supporters.

Opening with the words, “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Hinch told his audience, “I handled it; I didn’t get bored.”  But being under house arrest was tough he said. “I was made a non-person.”  Was five months punishment worth it to try and change what Hinch regards as a bad law? “My bloody oath it was.  And if necessary, if an obscenely bad law does not change, I would do it again,” he said.

Hinch was unrepentant about naming pedophiles, telling listeners in his opening editorial: “In my weekly sessions with case managers from the Department of Corrections, they did their job and tried to get me to pledge that I would never do such a thing again.  I pointed out, with respect, if seven High Court Judges, and other judges from the Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court hadn’t convinced me that what I did was wrong then they didn’t have much of a show.”

He argued that the toll on the victims of pedophiles is worse than the excuses used by courts to protect their identities.  “One judge talked about the ‘emotional and psychological effect on the respondent if material is published.’  What about the victims –– and future victims?  What about the emotional and psychological effects on them…whenever released on parole they must be on such a short leash they could well attack again.”

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