MUNGO MacCALLUM. A $30 million gift to the great rent seeker, News Corp.

Inevitably a scandal over $30 million of taxpayers money to Foxtel tended to get lost in the rush. But it remains a scandal nonetheless, especially when the government admits – no, boasts – that there is no record of the transaction; apparently the cash was simply handed over in a brown paper bag with a wink and a nudge. 

It was a week the featured the same sex marriage imbroglio, the NBN disaster, the water rorting in the Murray Darling endorsed by Barnaby Joyce and now the accusations about the Commonwealth Bank turning a blind eye to money laundering for terrorists.

Inevitably a scandal over $30 million of taxpayers money to Foxtel tended to get lost in the rush. But it remains a scandal nonetheless, especially when the government admits – no, boasts – that there is no record of the transaction; apparently the cash was simply handed over in a brown paper bag with a wink and a nudge.

It was intended, we are told, to be used “to support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television, including women’s sports, niche sports and sports with a high level of community involvement of participation.”

Worthy enough ideals, certainly, but surely there must have been some research into the plan, most obviously whether the money might be spent better on free to air channels where the audiences are far larger and easier to access.

As it is, we have no idea what Fox is going to do with the lot – presumably not simply trouser it to prop up what has, to date, been a loss making venture. The Minister, Mitch Fifield, merely said that it was part of the overall media package and Fox refused to comment.

It must therefore be assumed that it was a sweetener for Rupert Murdoch and his fellow moguls, and had nothing to do with policy. So much for open and transparent government.

Fox, of course, already gets regular free kicks from the conservatives., usually in the pages of its stablemates through the Murdoch empire. One of the silliest came last week from the Australian’s resident dominatrix Janet Albrechtsen, who spent her column extolling the wonder and beauty of what can be loosely described as the network’s current affairs programs.

Abandoning what tenuous grasp of reality she once possessed, Albrechtsen described Outsiders – once the purview of Mark Latham but now taken over by his fellow crazies Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean – as “a cracking show … the number one subscription show in its timeslot.” Well, yes, also the only one. Its audience can hardly be called massive. Indeed, there are times when it can hardly be called visible except for the relentless cross promotion provided by Newscorp.

But Albrechtsen was undeterred: another right wing rant, Paul Murray Live, is lauded as “rocking the ratings … the top rated show across Foxtel.” Yes. Even less unpopular than Outsiders. Albrechtsen clearly has her evenings full.

Perhaps she is lovelorn; her devotion to Peter Dutton the week before suggests that she has abandoned her earlier idol, Tony Abbott, and moved on in search of fresh meat. But there is something missing: for all Dutton’s manifold attributes, Albrechtsen has resisted telling us she loved the magnificent hairiness she swooned over with her Tony.

Never mind, perhaps it will feature in a Foxtel special. Surely Dutton could arrange a swift backhander to fund the program – according to Albrechtsen he can do anything. And since public broadcasting, the ABC and SBS, must be abolished immediately, there will be no shortage of funds for Fox and its struggling multi-billionaire proprietor. Over to you, Mitch – and don’t bother about the paperwork.

It’s only taxpayers’ money and there is plenty more for Rupert where that came from.

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3 Responses to MUNGO MacCALLUM. A $30 million gift to the great rent seeker, News Corp.

  1. There was a article in the Guardian recently and Fifield was quoted as saying “It is ($30M) to boost (Foxtel’s) subscriptions.

    Obviously this $30M wasn’t meant to be noticed, so, might not it be prudent to scan previous budgets to see if any more millions went straight to the keeper?

    Also, has any laws been broken? Not that it would make any difference as the AFP will come up with the stock standard Insufficient Evidence aka Mal Brough.

  2. Jaquix says:

    Yes Mungo, it is indeed taxpayers money, and there seems to be plenty of it – for pet projects, saving face, appeasing Rupert and so forth. The latest nonsense being this massive exercise in futility – a snail mail mailout to all voters? All adults? As someone said, this generation is not acquainted with post boxes. I would add not used to handling a pen or handwriting either. Never mind that, its ludicrous and will only cause more chaos. Barrie Cassidy said yesterday you could commission a decent sample sized poll with reputable company, and get a far more accurate result, for $2 million. Lyle Shelton of ACL was positively glowing at the thought of the exciting times ahead for him and his ilk. Turnbull topped the day off by declaring he was a strong leader!

  3. Just a little tit bit from the past…

    Let us go back to 25th March, 2005 and Kim Williams and that loan made to not just Foxtel, but News Corp, Telstra and PBL – who did a deal with the Commonwealth
    Bank and ABN Amro to lend the pay television operator $550 million, there
    were plenty of raised eyebrows in the market.

    Sure the banks – which subsequently further syndicated the loan – had
    security over Foxtel’s assets, which are worth, maybe, $2 billion – but the
    shareholders managed to do a deal which allowed the banks no recourse to
    them.

    So how would the banks be feeling now – having watched the speed at which
    Foxtel’s debt position moved from $60 million in 2003 to $323 million in
    June 2004 and then to $464 million in December 2004?

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/Elizabet…1525290716.html

    By Elizabeth Knight

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