Archive for February, 2012

I’ve handed in my notice with SBS News, and although I’d be keen on returning in the mid-term future, all plans are currently focused on Tunisia.

At the end of March I’m switching to freelance journalism, while leaving my young family for a bit and flying to Tunis, where I’m enrolled in an Arabic course. I’ve tried to keep my Arabic study going since returning from Syria last year but it is hard in the middle of Sydney; would Mandarin have been more appropriate?*

I’ll also be working on two current affairs films as a video journalist, which will roughly be on the state of the economy and life for minorities post revolution. I’m taking offers on where to screen them :)

On top of that, I’m hoping to get some articles out around town, so to speak.

I’m currently balancing journalistic planning with travel/accom arrangements and technical requirements (macbook pro purchased, Sony NX5 on order). Five weeks to go.

*Nope, too hard, tried that for a bit. Potentially less useful in Tunisia, also.

This week I met two Syrian Australians whose son had been shot. They feared it may have been due to his backing of Syria’s President Assad in an argument on Facebook. They’re Alawi, originally from the town of Tartous.  The truth is, they didn’t know for sure why he was shot, and the police were none too sure early on either; it was being investigated by the local command in Campsie as well as Operation Spartan, set up to deal with the spate of gun crime in Sydney. We went to Padstow to meet them. In the screenshot below you can see Jamal Daoud – a bit of a get-around-town activist who is keen on portraying the shooting as part of a wider campaign against Assad supporters. Time will tell.

Muckaty nuclear waste dump debated

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Indigenous people in the country surrounding the proposed Muckaty nuclear waste dump say they will act on plans to block the Stuart Highway which runs the length of the Northern Territory.

The government tabled the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010 on Wednesday, on the back of a deal from N.T. Nationals Senator Nigel Scullion which would see an initial $10m in federal funds for health infrastructure in the N.T., in return for Coalition support.

The Northern Territory government and various local clan groups are opposed to the plan to build a medium-level nuclear waste dump on the aboriginal land north of Tennant Creek.

Penny Philips, a member of the Wintiku clan, told SBS the federal government will have a fight on its hands when local people block the Territory’s principal road.

“We’re going to do it if they’re going ahead with it…we’ll get people to block it,  get traditional owners from other countries (to see) if they can block it as well.”

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Despite Senator Scullion’s deal, anti-nuclear activist Nat Wasley says the Coalition was always going to support the bill.

“It’s almost a carbon copy of the current legislation that was written by the Howard government, the main difference being that it specifically names Muckaty as a site.”

Senator Scullion doesn’t deny that support was forthcoming amongst the opposition.

“I guess we would have”, he says. “But It’s appropriate that there should be a charge.”

Read the rest of this article at SBS News.

Protests hit Apple stores

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I covered the protests against Apple/Foxconn led by Change.org yesterday. Activists gathered at the Sydney Macstore, and we caught up with Timothy Devinney at UTS afterwards – an expert in ethical consumerism and protest.

This is a blog I originally wrote for SBS News

Modern sport means big business.

Long gone are the days when a few cents got you in the stadium to cheer on your team of part-time amateurs, who did it for love, in their spare time. Well, I’m not sure when it only cost a few cents. But just take a look at England’s bloated Premier League to see where money gets you.

Here in Australia, our sports are not as affected by the big bucks. For starters, noone else is really that interested in our multiple codes of football; even we can’t seem to agree on one.

But selling the rights to NRL and AFL football matches is certainly big money in local terms. And for the last few decades, it’s been all about TV rights.

With the latest landmark case, however, mobile streaming technologies are the new battleground.

Telstra’s deal with the AFL is worth $153 million. Well, strictly speaking it cost them $153m; what it’s worth is another matter entirely.

Nonetheless, the fact that Optus customers are able to watch the big matches just a few minutes behind their screening on terrestrial TV is obviously a  concern for Telstra, and thus came the court case.

And it was Optus that won this landmark proceeding against the AFL, NRL and Telstra in relation to its TV Now service. The app enables Optus user to  watch TV shows just a few minutes after they’ve gone to air (whether it should be called ‘TV just after’ is up for debate), and obviously,  there’s value in this for sports fans.

But value is what drives sports broadcasting rights. Why pay big money for mobile rights to a game if it’s not exclusive?

The judge in the case said it was not Optus making the ‘recording’, it was the individual who was ‘shifting’ their viewing, so 2006 amendments  to the 1968 copyright act held.

“Even though Optus provided all the significant technology for making, keeping and playing the recording, I considered that in substance this was no different to a person using equipment or technology in his or her own home or elsewhere to copy or record a broadcast”, he said.

So, even though the recording was done in the cloud, it’s the same as using your VCR to tape your favourite show; no copyright breaching here.

Naturally, there are big implications for sports. How can sports bodies establish a value for internet rights with rulings like this?

The football codes say they are likely to appeal, but, of course, victory is not guaranteed.

“If it ultimately is held, what will the major sporting codes do in response given sales of mobile rights is becoming an important revenue stream?” asked Ian Robertson, a Managing Partner at Holding Redlich lawyers.

“Running these sports is an expensive operation.”

And he’s right. You only have to look at the AFL’s recruitment of former NRL star Israel Folau. $4.3m was coughed up for a three-year deal. The average AFL player is set to earn over $300,000 a year by 2016,according to The Herald Sun.

Sport is becoming more, and more of a business. They’ll always be looking for new revenue streams.

It’s a vicious circle. A more entertaining match requires more money to fund it. But ultimately, that money comes from sports fans, with higher ground fees and ever bigger broadcasting deals, via whatever medium. Tack on to that more charges to watch and more Burger King advertising in your life (‘the Whopper has also celebrated being the Official Burger of the AFL ‘). Fantastic. Give me the leagues of 50 years ago.

In the strange universe of English football, television revenue has gone hand in hand with the fortunes of Russian oligarchs and Gulf Sheikhs to transform the league beyond recognition, catapulting average teams to the top of the league. Manchester City? Are you joking? A generation of  millionaires created while working fans cough up small fortunes to watch games in the stadium or at home.

Money has brought the world’s stars together to create beautiful football – but how much more beautiful, and bloated – can it get?

While we’re not there yet in Australia, for Ian Robertson, should the AFL and NRL not be victorious against Telstra in protecting their new cashflow portal – your mobile handset – there’s likely to be a knock at the government’s door.

“Sponsorship and sales is a very important part of their revenue stream…the question is what are they going to do about it? I’d say they’re likely to lobby the government”, he told SBS.

In the unlikely event that this new revenue stream is not protected for the money machine that is professional sport, revenue will be hit.

But you know what? I’m pretty sure those players aren’t going to go hungry any time soon.

They’re up to their necks in official burgers, for starters.

This week I met two Syrian Australians whose son had been shot. They feared it may have been due to his backing of Syria’s President Assad in an argument on Facebook. They’re Alawi, originally from the town of Tartous.  The truth is, they didn’t know for sure why he was shot, and the police were none to sure early on either; it was being investigated by the local command in Campsie as well as Operation Spartan, set up to deal with the spate of gun crime in Sydney. We went to Padstow to meet them. In the screenshot below you can see Jamal Daoud – a bit of a get-around-town activist who is keen on portraying the shooting as part of a wider campaign against Assad supporters. Time will tell.