Australian media firms fail in Rebel Wilson defamation suit

Rebel Wilson was awarded A$4.5 million in damages against magazine publisher Bauer last September over articles claiming she lied about her age and background to further her career. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Australian media firms fail in Rebel Wilson defamation suit

SYDNEY: Six Australian media companies seeking to join the battle against a record A$4.5 million ($3.5 million) defamation payout to Hollywood star Rebel Wilson had their case knocked back Thursday.
The “Pitch Perfect” star was awarded the damages against magazine publisher Bauer last September over articles claiming she lied about her age and background to further her career.
The allegations were made in Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly and OK Magazine in 2015, which Wilson said damaged her reputation. She won the case and vowed to give the payout to charity.
Last month newspaper publishers News Corp. and Fairfax, radio station owner Macquarie and television broadcasters ABC, Seven and Nine joined forces to back Bauer’s appeal against the country’s largest defamation payout.
They argued the size of the damages could stifle public-interest journalism.
But Justice Pamela Tate of the Supreme Court of Victoria on Thursday rejected their bid to intervene, agreeing with Wilson’s defense that the arguments of the six firms did not differ enough from those of the Bauer appeal.
Wilson took to social media afterwards, saying the firms should be “embarrassed” for colluding with Bauer.
“I obviously don’t hold any negative feelings toward Ch 7, Ch 9, ABC, Fairfax, News Corp. & Macquarie Media — I was actually just watching the finale of Married At First Sight online — but guys, please stick to reporting the truth & entertaining Australia!” she tweeted.
Bauer’s parent company, Bauer Media Group, is a worldwide publishing house based in Hamburg with magazine titles in 15 countries including Britain, the US, China and Russia, as well as various television and radio assets.


Comcast outbids Fox with $40 billion offer for Sky in auction

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp and co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, arrives at the Sun Valley Resort of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 10, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Comcast outbids Fox with $40 billion offer for Sky in auction

  • Disney agreed a separate $71 billion deal to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its existing 39 percent stake in Sky, in June and would have taken full ownership after a successful Fox takeover

LONDON: Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox in the battle for Sky on Saturday after offering 30.6 billion pounds ($40 billion) in a dramatic auction to decide the fate of the pay-television group.
The US cable giant bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 pounds-a-share offer by Fox, Britain’s Takeover Panel said.
Buying Sky will make Philadephia-based Comcast, which owns the NBC network and Universal Pictures, the world’s largest pay-TV operator with around 52 million customers.
Chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts has had his eye on Sky as a way to help counter declines in subscribers for traditional cable TV in its core US market as viewers switch to video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon .
“This is a great day for Comcast,” he said. “This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”
Comcast’s knock-out offer thwarted Murdoch’s long-held ambition to win control of Sky, and is also a setback for US entertainment giant Walt Disney which would have likely been its ultimate owner.
Disney agreed a separate $71 billion deal to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its existing 39 percent stake in Sky, in June and would have taken full ownership after a successful Fox takeover.
Comcast’s final offer was significantly higher than its bid going into the auction of 14.75 pounds, and compares with Sky’s closing price of 15.85 pounds on Friday.
Comcast believed it needed to deliver a knock-out blow given that Fox’s existing stake in Sky gave it a chance of victory if it was a close second to Comcast, two sources said.
Comcast’s final offer — more than double Sky’s share price before Fox made its approach in December 2016 — quickly won the backing of Sky’s independent directors on Saturday.
“We are recommending it as it represents materially superior value,” said Martin Gilbert, chairman of Sky’s independent committee. “We are focused on drawing this process to a successful and swift close and therefore urge shareholders to accept the recommended Comcast offer.”
Fox will now concede defeat, a source told Reuters.
It is reviewing options for its stake, a holding that stems from Murdoch’s role in the creation of the company nearly three decades ago, the source said.
Fox declined to comment.
Comcast, which requires 50 percent plus one share of Sky’s equity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Sky shares in the market.

HUGE PRICE
One hedge fund manager who holds Sky shares said nobody could complain about the Comcast price.
“The question now is if Fox actually sells out and if not can Comcast get to 50 percent,” he said.
Another hedge-fund manager said it was a “huge” price, and shareholders would accept it.
Sources familiar with the matter said Fox, Disney and Comcast had not been in discussions about the 39 percent stake.
The quick-fire auction marked a dramatic climax to a protracted transatlantic bidding battle waged since February, when Comcast gate-crashed Fox’s takeover of Sky.
It is a blow to 87-year-old Murdoch and the US media and entertainment group that he controls, which had been trying to take full ownership of Sky since December 2016.
Murdoch’s son James, currently chairman of Sky, was instrumental in building the company into the leading European pay TV group, with operations in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and more than 23 million customers attracted to its top-flight sport and entertainment content.
Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch said it was the beginning of a new chapter. “Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase,” he said. ($1 = 0.7648 pounds)