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The death of Sunday and Newsweek
Webdiarist Paul Walter shares his thoughts on the demise of Channel 9’s Nightline and Sunday:
The death of Sunday and Nightline
The concern expressed about the death of Nightline and Sunday only distantly touched me, since I am a convinced pro-public broacasting-o-phile with a studied dislike of commercial press and media going back decades.
Nonetheless, it seemed a strange story, this saga of the deterioration of a once mighty media empire with current events appearing to be a late and inevitable consequence, as it unfolded before my eyes as had recourse to much blogging to get an idea of what was behind Nightline’s and Sunday’s demise. One observation from media pundits involved speculation that the death of these programs, together with the ending of the legendary Bulletin magazine, coincided with the death of Kerry Packer.
It seems axiomatic in life that when you believe something can't any worse and you have found the cause for your discomfiture, events will prove you wrong.
Kerry Packer: brash, brawling; the last quintessentially Australian publishing magnate. A legendary gambler, regarded by many as a tax dodger par excellence, someone with alleged contacts with the
Yet the death of (broadsheet as opposed to tabloid, particularly) current affairs at PBL seems to accelerate particularly after his departure from this life, bearing out the theory offered by some that he was motivated by affection and a sense of civic responsibility in maintaining less profitable current affairs programs and the Bulletin.
Although the snowballing effect of globalisation and improved legal status of migrating capital in the form of big offshore funds expressed through apparatus like the AUSFTA indicates the decline of the influence of specifically Australian current affairs, another reason why the genre was in decline even in the half dozen or so years before Packer's death is that less significant decision-making happens in Australia any more; so there is less need for "clout".
It's true that pundits like Mark Day and the other Oz media pundits, Two's Media Watch, Stephen Mayne, Gerald Stone (no, never fond of him or his "style” and include him as to blame for the demise of Mary Kostakidids from SBS ) and Crikey, to name just some, have been expounding on the death of broadsheet for some time. Networking and loss of locality, technological change including cable, games, electronic gambling and internet, and a new corporate culture represented most of all by a name familiar to us from Margo Kingston's writings; John Alexander, have allegedly driven quality and ratings down in a sort of circular process.
There is no longer a critical ratings mass to apply leverage to politicians or engage all sections of a mass audience for sponsors. Sections have headed off to Foxtel, others do Webdiary, Information Clearing House (thanks, Marilyn!!), and numerous other online sources, and the demographic remaining is financially and culturally dependent on the old media. It's not snobbishness so much as factual to say that current (relatively) remnant audiences want Big Brother , ACA and TDT rather than broadsheet news and current affairs, regardless of what this might say about the brainpower of these .
The downfall of PBL has been accelerated, apparently, by the lack of interest compared to his father, of James Packer. Gerald Stone and others may fulminate, but the fellow is not the media lion, or Australian nationalist, his old man was.
And herein lies a worrying end to this post.
James Packer has divested three-quarters of his ownership in the media half of his father’s empire into the hands of elements of the massive US Citibank and, speculating, probably through a related probably subordinate Asian arm, CVC venture capital. Reading Stephen Mayne and Crikey on recent events concerning PBL, the discovery emerged of a complex story not fully reported in current media and press.
The story was elaborated at quite an involved website presentation from one Dr. Brian Wynne, who had written an article apparently published in the Doctors Reform Society in 2004, concerning the involvement of related interests with apparently poor ethical records in the
On the basis of Wynne's comments there should be no surprise at the trajectory of the Nine Network re cost cutting, downsizing and dumbing down. Nor should it be of much surprise that there is little treatment of what globalisation could imply for
It should be interesting, for example, to see what treatment the media, including pundits like Alan Kohler or Business Lateline, give the privatisation style agreement involving James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch, now coming to fruition.