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02 December 2023

Australian media firms fail in Rebel Wilson bid


Six Australian media companies seeking to join the battle against a record Aus$4.5 million (US$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 defence 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 towards 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.