Qantas ditches Sky News from airport lounges as ABC takes flight on 90th birthday | Amanda Meade

In what is a fitting 90th birthday present for the ABC, Qantas has inked a new deal with the public broadcaster for ABC news bulletins to screen on Qantas flights and in airport lounges.

The arrangement means Sky News Australia will no longer be screened in the airline’s lounges, a development that will please critics of the divisive pay TV channel.

There have long been calls for Sky News to be removed from the lounges. Last year the News Corp Australia-owned channel was suspended by YouTube for airing Covid-19 misinformation and last month it was identified as a key “content hub” for climate science deniers. But the calls were loudest after the former senator David Leyonhjelm made sexist and defamatory comments about the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young on Rowan Dean’s Outsiders program.

From Friday passengers on Qantas domestic and international flights will see two bespoke bulletins every day, including business, sport, weather and entertainment reports.

But there is a silver lining for Sky. The Australian reports that the channel might be out of airports but will now be shown on cruise ships.

Paper planes era ends

The days of spotting piles of free copies of the Australian in airport lounges are over. The deal between Qantas and News Corp ended in 2020 when the pandemic hit and won’t be renewed now we are all travelling more. But the Oz has signed a contract with Qantas to provide free digital copies of the national daily instead, available while passengers are in airport lounges and on domestic flights.

Ninety years young

On Thursday night many of the ABC’s on-air and behind-the-scenes current and former staff gathered at Aunty’s Ultimo studios to celebrate its 90th birthday. Comedians from ABC shows in the 1980s and 90s, including Tim Ferguson and Wendy Harmer, mixed with current stars Mark Humphries and Luke McGregor.

RN Breakfast hosts past and present Fran Kelly and Patricia Karvelas both dressed up in sparkly outfits to watch the live two-hour show inside Studio 22 and party in the foyer after the historic broadcast with everyone from the Play School original Benita Collings to the Logie-winning sports presenter Tony Armstrong, Bluey, and B1 and B2.

The veteran journalists Sue Spencer (Four Corners), Deb Masters (Australian Story), John Cleary (Sunday Nights), Quentin Dempster (7.30), Jonathan Holmes (Media Watch) and the former Sydney newsreader Richard Morecroft hung around for a piece of birthday cake baked by The Cook and the Chef’s Maggie Beer.

The Back in Time for … host and political journalist Annabel Crabb was the only one brave enough to attempt to attack the unwieldy three-layered cake as Stan Grant, Craig Reucassel, Michael Theo from Love on the Spectrum, and actor and singer Justine Clarke watched on. It was an eclectic bunch but they all had one thing in common: love for Aunty.

Nine’s cash splash

It’s been 15 years since Channel Nine employees received the last of the legendarily lavish Christmas hampers, a tradition started by Kerry Packer, who died in 2005.

The media mogul was famous for giving every staff member of his TV and magazine empire a hamper worth about $300 back then. It contained a large ham or a side of smoked salmon plus a turkey, two bottles of wine, Christmas pudding, cake and assorted nibbles, condiments and sweets. In 2007 the new owners of the Packer assets told everyone the largesse was over, though staff still receive a slimmed-down offering.

But this week Nine Entertainment’s chief executive, Mike Sneesby, delighted staff with an end-of-the-financial-year “recognition bonus” to the tune of $1,750.

All permanent employees who joined Nine, including newspaper staff at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, before 1 April and who are not already in an executive bonus scheme will receive the cash.

“The strength of our business and our financial performance has come from great achievements across every part of our company, and you’ve all played your part in that,” Sneesby said in a note to staff.

“The effort, professionalism, and sheer tenacity from each and every one of you to drive that success is certainly appreciated by myself, the Board and the Leadership Team,” he added.

In TV terms Nine has enjoyed success with the Ash Barty win at the Australian Open and the ratings juggernaut that is Married at First Sight.

A house divided

Ten’s The Project is tabloid fodder. The Daily Mail,, the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun love a good headline about something Waleed Aly, Lisa Wilkinson or Carrie Bickmore has said on the show or done when outside work.

But what happens when your clickbait stories about The Project directly contradict each other and they’re on the same page on the same day? found out on Wednesday when the same Project interview was written up by different reporters, who each had a different take.

One report headlined “Project hosts smashed for “soft” interview” said the panel had ben “far too soft” on Mali Cooper, the Blockade Australia protester who allegedly locked herself to a car steering wheel in the middle of peak-hour traffic in the Sydney Harbour tunnel.

“You would think, given the level of outrage and frustration at the moment, The Project would ask some tough questions,”the 2GB host Mark Levy said.

“They asked her ‘oh Mali, how are you feeling?’ How is she feeling?! How about how do the people of Sydney, how are they feeling?”

Another report on the same page headlined “‘Privileged’: Activist grilled by Project hosts” said the 22-year-old had faced tough questioning from the hosts.

Kate Langbroek asked Cooper: “What do you think that your disruption has to do with climate change? People find you to be extremely divisive.

“You talk about privilege but the ultimate privilege was probably you deciding whether people could get to work or not?”

Canavan’s capital efforts

The Queensland senator Matt Canavan’s personal media crusade to promote coal and to rail against vaccine mandates and measures to curb global warming has finally hit a roadblock.

Matt Canavan uses his appearance on the ABC to promote coal
Matt Canavan uses his appearance on the ABC to promote coal. Photograph: ABC

Whether he is being interviewed on Sky News, commercial TV or the ABC, Canavan sets up a slogan on a TV screen behind him to boost his message. “BUILD COAL POWER STATIONS”, “A HUGE WIN FOR COAL”, “GLASGOW PLANE WATCH” and “NET ZERO WOULD COST” have appeared in his home studio, where he conducts multiple zoom interviews each week.

As we told you last month, the ABC has a policy against commercial messaging on air but, because coal is not a specific brand, it wasn’t a clear breach.

So a compromise was reached, and Greg Jennett on the ABC News Channel offered a disclaimer before an interview: “And for viewers not familiar with Senator Canavan’s set-up, we do offer the standard disclaimer that he’s using his own camera equipment in his own office and we don’t exert any control over any messages in that office.”

Canavan declined to comment.

Goodbye to Ramsay Street

The Ten network has confirmed that the final episode of Neighbours will air on Thursday 28 July at 7.30pm on the main channel, 10, and on 10 Peach.

After 37 years and 8,903 episodes it will all end with an emotional 90-minute finale as favourites including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce return to Ramsay Street to celebrate with Erinsborough locals.