Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Packer secures 18 per cent of Ten

James Packer increases his stake in Network Ten to nearly 18 per cent.

PT0M0S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-16ul0 620 349

Possibly James Packer's raid on the Ten Network has nothing to do with controlling lucrative sports broadcasting rights - possibly he is just a fan of The Simpsons.

Whatever the motivation of the media mogul who renounced mogul-hood only to assume it again in the past couple of days, the body language in Canberra yesterday was fascinating.

Sure-sign No. 1 of inter-planetary Packer activity: Malcolm Turnbull looking nostalgic, almost like he could launch into risque anecdotes at a family wedding.

Sure-sign No. 2: Julia Gillard and Stephen Conroy (the Communications Minister who has been known to play a convivial round of golf with Kerry's son at that swank Crown course in Melbourne) knowing nothing and playing their bats straight.

Sages of the financial markets speculate that James Packer is hedging his bets before a policy decision about the rules that reserve premium sport for free-to-air television.

Before his little grab on the Ten Network, Packer possessed only pay-TV interests - should they fail to be enhanced by enlightened policy decision-making out of Canberra in the next month or so, then it makes sense to have a foot in the free-to-air TV camp as well.

Malcolm, as discussed, was misty eyed about James's unexpected comeback. Given his long history with the Packers, Turnbull owned up to a ''slight sense of nostalgia'' - he'd ''seen [this] film before'' apparently.

As to what he'd do if the anti-siphoning decision were his - Turnbull, shadow communications spokesman, wasn't impolite enough to say. It's good that sport is mainly on free TV, he opined, but on the other hand, there are arguments about hoarding and so on.

Conroy, who must make the decision, looked less amused. He said he knew nothing before Packer's move on Ten went public. Neither did the PM. Sure they had been talking to Packer about the sports rules, but there could be no informed pre-emptive strike - there had been no ''final'' decision.

Probably just a Simpsons fan.

Katharine Murphy is Age national affairs correspondent.