Media firms band together to fight Bauer’s Rebel Wilson payout

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 26 February 2018

Media rivals Nine, Seven, Fairfax, News Corp, Macquarie Media and the ABC have joined forces to fight against actor Rebel Wilson’s $4.5 defamation payout.

The media organisations will unite in the Victorian Supreme Court’s Court of Appeal in a case they argue has “serious implications” for freedom of speech in Australia, according to a report in The Australian.

The companies will today file a joint application to intervene in Bauer’s appeal against the amount of damages the magazine publisher was ordered to pay Wilson.

“Bauer isn't surprised to see Australia's largest media organisations supporting its position in relation to the cap on defamation damages. That aspect of the court's decision has significant consequences for all media,” Bauer Media general counsel Adrian Goss tells AdNews.

Supreme Court judge Justice John Dixon ruled in September the articles in Bauer titles Woman's Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Weekly and OK!, unfairly painted Wilson as a serial liar who had faked her way to a Hollywood career.

The $4.5m payout came as a shock to media experts, breaking all records for defamation cases in Australia. 

Previously, media companies have relied on a $389,500 statutory cap on ­­­dam­ages for non-economic loss introduced as part of updated defamation laws in 2005. They are challenging the Wilson payout to ensure they too aren't forced to pay unreasonable sums in the future.

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