Sunday, June 24, 2012

An idle Sunday media fantasy involving Gina Rinehart, Andrew Bolt and Bob the builder ...

By golly, the spectre of Gina Rinehart has got the Fairfax faithful going.

The weekend AFR, handily thrown on to the pond's porch for free, is full of speculation and stories about Rinehart.

Naturally news of the book about Rinehart - jokingly called an extended suicide note - has also been splashed around Fairfax rags, the latest example being 'We were children of a lesser dad', which recycles a dose of the book's family gossip. Then there's Iron wills mine a deep vein of bitterness (forced video at end of link), and the first extract from the book, What Gina did next.

Throw in a splash Get Up ad prominently featured next to the stories ...

... which leads here, and you have a serious case of Gina fixation, Gina obsession.

And there's been plenty of other Fairfax coverage of the spectral wraithe. For someone who never talks to the media, seems even to loathe the media, Rinehart has been managing to generate a lot of coverage.

Meanwhile, the smug Murdoch mob have spent their time explaining to Fairfax how to do real journalism, seemingly unaware that Kim Williams will shortly start swinging the axe.

The smuggery involves much praise of Rinehart and other billionaires and their business skills, and how that might rescue Fairfax (at the same time telling Fairfax not to do lifestyle sections, because it's not what readers want, which makes you wonder why the Daily Terror has a lifestyle section. Not to mention body+soul ...)

You can always rely on News Ltd journos for a good dose of hypocrisy mingled with stupidity (yes David Penberthy, come on down, and bring Dennis Shanahan and Simon Benson and their outrageous coverage of the G8 with you, as noted in Gillard-Swan "lecture" on Eurozone, which was also covered in extensive detail here at Grog's Gamut. If you think Fairfax being in trouble means News Ltd is the answer, lordy lordy, did you ask the wrong question ...)

Never mind, here's some figures to hearten the soul and lighten the Fairfax mood:

The Bolt Report Ten 123,000
The Bolt Report Ten, repeat, 126,000

Bob the Builder ABC 2 179,000 (Sunday May 20 2012)

Go Bob. Helping children learn how to build things seems so much more useful than tearing people and things down in relentless right wing ranting rages.

Even when the figures go up, they stay the same:

The Bolt Report Ten 160,000
The Bolt Report, repeat, 156,000

Bob the Builder: Ready, Steady, Build! ABC 2 176,000 (Sunday June 3rd 2012, all figures here)

It's particularly amusing to read these figures in the light of Greg Fraser's damning piece for Fairfax, Hot stock: Ten.

Fraser flays into network Ten in a way you shouldn't expect Alan Kohler to do for ABC TV News in the near future.

The pond particularly enjoyed this put-down:

Ten's content revival is looking to move away from what the company describes as a ''one bet, one punch'' mentality. If that means putting vacuous content such as Being Lara Bingle in prime-time viewing then maybe Ten really needs to administer itself a swift uppercut.

Oh come on Greg, the Bingle bump is famous, play fair.

Fraser charts the decline and fall of Ten, in share price, advertising revenue, and crappy content, while failing to mention the indulgence of The Bolt Report, which is so far off the ratings radar as to be completely irrelevant to the network's fortunes.

But he does remind us that Gina Rinehart is at the heart of this particular stew:

Worth buying? A select group of billionaires think Ten is worth owning, but it hasn't paid off so far. They have all supported the capital raising, along with institutional investors, probably as a means of averaging down their entry cost. Will it save their blushes?

Well the pond has a tip. Just by buying Bob the Builder and running it Sundays instead of Andrew Bolt, the network can immediately lift its ratings ...

That's the pond, always helpful ...

The usual explanation and justification for Bolt being on Ten is that it was done during the days of Lachlan Murdoch, and had nothing to do with Rinehart, as if that changes things and if there's no such thing as a nod and a wink.

Given the figures, a sensible proprietor would ring up and shout down the phone "Get that shit off the air, and put Bob the Builder on", as Kerry Packer so memorably did in the case of Doug Mulray and Australian's Naughtiest Home Videos. Oh okay, they put on Cheers instead of Bob the builder, but you get the drift.

In the end, you can either run a media outlet as a business or you can treat it as a platform for an ideology, but what if the punters don't buy the ideology?

Thus far all the News Ltd blather has been about how Rinehart would bring some decent professional and business acumen to the running of Fairfax. Her completely useless presence at Ten, and the sop of that dolt fop Bolt blows that out of the water from the get go ...

And some day not too far down the track the not-for-profit The Australian is going to find out what applying a sensible business model will mean to a wretched, ideological band of right wing scribes intent on zealotry ...

Of course back in the day, the rumours about Rinehart transplanting Bolt into Fairfax were all the go.

Before he hared off to News Ltd, Alan Kohler tried to pour cold water on the scheme in Rinehart's Fairfax investment experiment:

It's a little hard to tell since she hasn't yet given us the benefit of her views in either a book or a long interview, but Gina Rinehart appears to be an unreconstructed Thatcherite/Reaganite as well as a full-blown climate sceptic.

But to force Andrew Bolt into the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, I'd say she would need to buy 51 per cent of the company, and even then she'd struggle.

But what about Bob the Builder? Sorry, just the pond trying to be helpful ...

Meanwhile someone has at last noticed how Rinehart is now pretty much at her share-buying limit.

She must now rely on her board bullying at Fairfax with what she's got, to get her board seats and whatever that minority stake would give her in political sway - most likely the result would be an even more dysfunctional and dislocated board - or she must put her foot over the magical 20% shareholding mark, as Ian McIlwraith noted in ASIC boss fires off warning shot at takeovers by stealth.

The point, as explained in Packer and Rinehart on ASIC radar, is that raiders at some point have to declare their intentions in relation to a full takeover bid, or stop buying shares, and that has implications:

" ... as a general understanding, if you want to have the benefits that come with control, then normally attached to that we would expect the bidder to pay a premium over the pre-bid share price,'' he said.
(corporate governance expert Ian Ramsay) pointed out that the law set 20 per cent as the threshold for control ''in a somewhat arbitrary fashion''.

Personally the pond would love to see Rinehart go further down the track, and make a full take-over bid, and heck go the full hog, install someone she trusts to run a strictly ideological ship. Like someone who's second in the popularity stakes to ... Bob the builder.

She's already done a substantial amount of dough on Ten, so why not on Fairfax.

And if Andrew Bolt or similar zealot was ever installed in a position of power at Fairfax, she'd comprehensively wreck the joint, and her investment.

Bolt, for example, is a destructive gadfly, now perfectly placed to do damage, all care and no responsibility, but if promoted out of blogger status, he would rise to a level of incompetence that would perfectly demonstrate the Peter Principle at work. As he's done with his TV show ...

Bob the Builder would be a more constructive and positive solution, but if Rinehart's determined to destroy her investment, who would want to stop her?

At least we wouldn't have to keep reading about her dysfunctional family life, and in due course Bolt could retire to listen to his opera collection.

From where the pond sits, that's a win win solution in these troubled media times.

(Below: Andrew Bolt ready for another day's wrecking with protective glasses as required by needless bureaucratic socialist government regulation).

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