News Corp’s Australian Arm Plunges Further Into the Red
News Limited incurred an operating loss of $A457.3 million ($482.3 million) after writing down the value of its mastheads by $731. 7 million in fiscal 2012, according to accounts filed with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. That compares with a $201.6 million loss in fiscal 2011 and $300 million in profits in 2010. The Australian company quantified job losses, mostly redundancies, for the first time, revealing the head count fell by 306 to 9,543 in the year to June 30. It reported revenue fell by nearly 10% to $2.65 billion and operating income plunged by 25.3% to $493.6 million as advertising revenues declined “driven by negative consumer sentiment”. Trying to put a positive spin on the numbers, the company pointed to the $1.94 billion acquisition of Consolidated Media Holdings, which owned 25% of paybox Foxtel and 50% of Fox Sports, and online titles Business Spectator and Eureka Report, and said its publishing businesses performed solidly. The company generated $676 million in cash during the fiscal year. – Don Groves.

Australian Academy Awards Set To Expand
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts is proposing to expand its awards from 41 to 51. The new gongs would reward excellence in the TV categories of cinematography, editing, sound, original music score, production design and costume design. Achievements in hair and make-up design across film and TV would be recognized for the first time, and there would be new awards for screen content innovation and best original music score in a documentary. AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said the new awards, for which the Academy is seeking industry support, would bring Australia into line with the Emmys, Oscars and BAFTAs. The second annual AACTA awards (which replaced the Australian Film Institute’s awards) will be presented on January 30.- Don Groves.

Danny Boyle Turns Down Knighthood
Filmmaker and London Olympics Opening Ceremony director Danny Boyle has turned down a knighthood from the queen. Boyle was recommended for the award by the arts and media honors committee in recognition of his services to the country, The Sunday Times reported. Queen Elizabeth II made a surprise appearance in a short film shot for the Opening Ceremony, but in an interview with BBC Radio Four last week, Boyle said, “I’m very proud to be an equal citizen and I think that’s what the Opening Ceremony was actually about.” Other famous Britons to have turned down the honor include celebrity chef Nigella Lawson who in 2001 said, “I’m not saving lives and I’m not doing anything other than something I absolutely love” and Empire Of The Sun author JG Ballard, who in 2003, said, “It’s the whole climate of deference to the monarch and everything else it represents. They just seem to perpetuate the image of Britain as too much pomp and not enough circumstance.”

NBA Goes To Russia
Modern Times Group’s Viasat Broadcasting and the NBA have entered a new multi-year pay-TV partnership that will provide season-long coverage of NBA games to viewers in Russia, the CIS and Georgia. The Viasat Sport East channel will broadcast up to five regular season games per week along with marquee NBA events including the NBA All-Star, the Eastern and Western Conference Playoff series and the NBA Finals in June. Russian veteran player Andrei Kirilenko and rookie Alexey Shved are teammates on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Russia’s Timofey Mozgov is a third year center for the Denver Nuggets.

Kim Dalton Quits As Head of TV at Australia’s ABC
Kim Dalton is stepping down after seven years as director of TV at the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Dalton, who oversaw the introduction of digital channels ABC2, ABC4Kids and ABCNews24, departs in February. Dalton served previously as CEO of the Australian Film Commission, and has not indicated his next move. The ABC has begun the search for a new director of TV. “Kim has driven ABC television to create more compelling Australian content and deliver it to more Australians in more ways. His advocacy was very important in putting together a coalition of support behind our successful funding bids,” said ABC managing director Mark Scott.- Don Groves.