Business of Media
ABC defamation bill hits $1.9 million over four years
The ABC has spent more than $700,000 in defamation settlements over the past three years, documents filed by the national broadcaster show, with total legal costs for proceedings reaching at least $1.94 million, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.
The documents were filed last week to federal parliament in response to Nationals senator Ross Cadell’s questions, taken on notice by ABC managing director David Anderson during Senate estimates hearings in May.
Cadell asked Anderson to provide total legal costs of defamation – including court costs and settlements – for years when there were three or more settlements.
The ABC data shows legal settlements totalled $753,450: $414,000 in financial year 2021-22 and $339,450 in 2020-21. External costs in 2021-22, including legal fees, totalled $871,088, and $315,626 in 2020-21, bringing the total the ABC spent to $1.94 million of taxpayer funds on legal costs over four years.
However, that figure is likely to be higher because the broadcaster was not required to disclose figures for 2019-20 and 2022-23 when there were fewer than three defamation cases relating to the ABC.
The ABC declined to comment when approached by this masthead.
Marvel VFX artists take first step toward unionisation amid Hollywood strikes
Visual effects artists working for Marvel have taken the first step towards unionisation in a notoriously poorly represented area of the film industry. According to a statement from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) a group of on-set VFX artists employed by the studio have filed a petition with the US’s National Labor Relations Board, reports The Guardian’s Andrew Pulver.
Hailing the move as “a major shift in an industry that has largely remained non-union since VFX was pioneered during production of the first Star Wars films in the 1970s”, the IATSE said a supermajority of Marvel’s 50-plus VFX crew had signed authorisation cards indicating they wished to be represented by the union, which already represents around 168,000 technicians and craftspeople in live theatre, film and TV and associated areas in the US and Canada.
In a statement, the IATSE’s VFX organiser Mark Patch said: “For almost half a century, workers in the visual effects industry have been denied the same protections and benefits their coworkers and crewmates have relied upon since the beginning of the Hollywood film industry. This is a historic first step for VFX workers coming together with a collective voice demanding respect for the work we do.”
The petition, which is the first step to creating union recognition for Marvel’s VFX artists, applies only to “on-set” crew, which includes data wranglers, production managers, witness camera operators, and assistants on both film and TV productions.
Warner Music CEO on his approach to AI: Artists must “have a choice”
Following Warner Music Group’s latest quarterly earnings report, CEO Robert Kyncl on Tuesday touted the success of the Barbie movie soundtrack and the outlook for continued increases in monthly fees for music subscription services, while addressing the music major’s recent TikTok deal and AI plans, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Georg Szalai.
The former YouTube top executive said that the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, started in July, was “off to a strong start with amazing releases, including Barbie: The Album” and beyond.
Kyncl also mentioned that for the past 15 years, music companies and distribution platforms “have partnered to grow user-generated content in a multi-billion dollar revenue stream for artists and songwriters,” adding: “Today, there are obvious similarities with AI.” He told analysts that working with artists and songwriters “we are leaning in, moving fast, and working with a network of partners, including both generative AI engines and distribution platforms. Many Warner artists are already exploring impactful ways to use generative AI to create, augment and remix their music. We have some great examples from big names on the way later this quarter.”
Other artists are using generative AI for visuals and music videos, including metal band Disturbed and Linkin Park. Plus, AI-enabled technology is also “giving new life to recordings by artists who are no longer with us,” Kyncl said. “For example, AI has been used to isolate the vocal performance from sound recordings of legendary entertainment Sammy Davis Jr. and renowned opera singer Maria Callas.”
Caps limiting amount radio stations pay artists could be scrapped
Pressure is set to ramp up on the nation’s radio networks when ACT independent senator David Pocock introduces a bill on Wednesday to remove caps that limit how much stations must pay artists to broadcast their recordings, reports News Corp’s Jack Quail.
Under copyright law, Australian-owned radio stations – both public and commercial – are required to pay no more than 1 per cent of their gross annual revenue to broadcast sound recording.
The rules, established 55 years ago, bar the recording industry from brokering their own broadcast deals, who are instead beholden to the legislated caps, and the limited revenue stream they provide.
In the 12 months to June 2022, Australia’s 260 million commercial stations paid $4.4 million in royalties to composers, musicians and rights holders, equating to 0.4 per cent of gross earnings.
The ABC paid even less, with total royalties fees across its network of local and national stations equating to almost $130,000 in the 2022-23 financial year.
Through amendments to the Copyright Act, senator Pocock will seek to abolish the cap, and alternatively require radio stations and artists to negotiate “fair remuneration” over broadcast deals.
“The mere presence of the cap is distorting the market to the disadvantage of artists, who we must remember are small businesses, often operating on a shoestring to brand, and market and distribute their product,” Senator Pocock said.
Leaked call from MasterChef original judges sends fans wild
A video call between the three original MasterChef Australia judges sent fans wild after a clip posted online hinted at a “special project”, reports News Corp’s
Footage of the Zoom call, filmed off a laptop screen, was posted by George Calombaris as he spoke to his OG judges, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan.
“Some serious food talk for a very special project,” Calombaris captioned the Instagram video. “But majority a lot of shots and giggles.”
‘I’m not doing Getaway’: Julia Zemiro’s different kind of travel show
Julia Zemiro wasn’t interested in a travel show. “I’m not doing Getaway,” is what she told producer Dan Goldberg when he asked if she’d like to take a walk. Several long walks, in fact, reports Nine Publishing’s Louise Rugendyke.
What swayed her however was the hangover from COVID-19. “I couldn’t believe we were outside again,” she says. “And I couldn’t believe we were walking further than five kilometres. And I realised everything was so precious and could go in an instant.”
So she said yes to Great Australian Walks with Julia Zemiro, SBS’s new show that covers 10 day trips in NSW, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania, from cities to the bush, beaches and beyond.
Great Australian Walks stand out because of the determination not to make it a travel magazine show, featuring five-star hotels, shiny restaurants and sanitised trips. Zemiro tackles not only the scenic stuff, like the gorgeous Kunyani/Mount Wellington in Hobart and the stunning Walgun/Cape Byron, but the political as well.
“There’s activism that came up in all the episodes that we didn’t organise,” she says. “But it just presented itself because they’re protecting something beautiful.”
Bluey wins Television Critics’ Award in USA
It may not have scored at the Logie Awards but hit ABC series Bluey has just bagged an accolade in the USA, voted Outstanding Achievement In Children’s Programming in the annual Television Critics’ Awards, reports TV Tonight.
The series by Ludo Studios beat out competition such as Sesame Street and Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures. Bluey screens stateside on Disney+.
Succession was voted Program of the Year.
There was also a Career Achievement honour for legendary Mel Brooks and a Heritage Award for The Carol Burnett Show.
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