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What price can you put on getting the latest financial information from across the Tasman?

Talk about withdrawal symptoms. Librarians have been running around like headless chickens, trying to get copies of the Australian Financial Review airfreighted across the ditch at three times the normal price. Both Treasury and the Reserve Bank are used to getting the AFR no more than a day late, preferably in hard copy, so that it can be circulated to staff. Even online access to it through the Factiva newsbase may be shut off in three months' time - and good luck to individual subscribers who attempt access through Newsstand, as the information required to hook up on its website is vast. Fairfax Business Media publisher Michael Gill says that 18 months ago Fairfax made a heroic effort to publish AFR out of Auckland but there was not enough demand, and freighting it from Australia is no longer viable. The decision to stop distributing it here coincides with an aggressive promotion of Fairfax's online option, the beefing up of Business Media and the purchase of the business paper the Independent.


Staff at Saatchi & Saatchi recently observed a minute's silence to mark the death of advertising pioneer Lewis King, 91, in Auckland this month. King started out at 15 and at one time was in charge of sales at the Radio Record, which evolved into the Listener. Best known for his role in building Carlton Carruthers du Chateau & King and in the founding of McKay King, which was later absorbed into Saatchis, King penned the first singing commercial - "Clean Burning Europa, the petrol with pep". His other great accomplishment was to prove that behind every great woman is a good man by creating the concept of endorsement that became embodied in the phenomenon of advertorial empress Aunt Daisy. In the 60s, King was instrumental in getting pirate station Radio Hauraki on air, persuading Europa - the Todd-owned gas station chain that held all the government contracts - to stump up with seeding capital of £10,000 in return for a promise of double that value in radio spots. The King kept his promise.


TVNZ producer Chris Harrington has hastily brought to the Listener's attention that he left the elusive TVNZ investigative unit last December and is now a producer for TV1's Sunday programme. "Weekly current affairs is my first love," he said. Another former TVNZ investigative unit journalist, Brent Fraser, recently turned in a story about reported sightings of a large black cat-like animal in mid Canterbury. A specialist team from Orana Wildlife Park has now looked at the photos of the "panther's" paw prints and faeces and concluded that they belong to a dog. This story has been doing the rounds for 15 years, so if the panther does exist, it must be pretty old - the life expectancy is about 12 years.


Last weekend's story about a Kiwi who discovered old photos of Prince Harry and a busty female, and flogged them off to the British Sun, raises questions about media ethics. Were they his to sell? He says he found them in a drawer; the busty female says they were stolen from her flat. But it's reallly a storm in a D cup because they were positively ancient (three years old) by tabloid standards. Any older and they would have been sepia-toned.