On Monday night, one of this year’s most talked-about shows aired on HBO in the US.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about The Newsroom – the latest drama from Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing and The Social Network.
The show focuses on reputably private news anchor, Will McAvoy, who loses his mind on a university panel when the MC goads him into revealing his political allegiances, and the corporate restructure that follow his public meltdown.
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It’ll be Moet & Chandon all round at AFL House tonight. In a deal which consolidates its position as Australia’s premier winter sporting code, the AFL has just announced a $1.253 billion dollar TV rights deal from 2012 to 2016. It’s far and away the largest sport rights deal in Australian history.
The five year deal will see Channel Seven televise four games per week. Seven will also retain exclusive rights to the AFL grand final, and pre-season Cup grand final, while Fox Sports will screen all eight weekly games live, including the games shown on Seven.
This is a major return to AFL for the pay TV broadcaster, which has also grabbed the high-rating Brownlow medal night coverage from Seven. Fox will also revive a dedicated AFL channel. Its last such channel, the Fox Footy Channel, turned its toes up after the 2006 grand final.
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In recent weeks there has been a lot of debate about the conflict between the expansion of the ABC and other media providers, including subscription television and potential online subscription services.
Jonathan Holmes in The Drum called it ‘the showdown over Australia’s new media landscape’, and correctly observed that the conflict derives from the foray of the publicly funded Aunty into markets that need to make money in order to survive.
The temptation is to portray this as another public-interest-versus-private-interest argument. But it’s not. Holmes’ article refreshingly didn’t fall into this trap, although he accurately set out the revenue implications for companies like FOXTEL of the ABC’s planned new services. As a businessman, this hurts—as does the long list of anti-competitive and wasteful subsidies and protections given to Seven, Nine and Ten. But it also hurts as someone with a passion for television and someone who believes in the potential of television to be more than just wires and lights in a box—as the Ed Murrow character in the movie Good Night and Good Luck put it.
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