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«COMMERCIAL RADIO INQUIRY Report of the Australian Broadcasting Authority Hearing into Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Limited February 2000 Sydney ISBN 0 642 ...»

-- [ Page 39 ] --

This is called Optus Update. Unbelievable. And Optus’ll connect any of these categories to your phone if you fill out the application form. Just give them a call. And you can check all of this out on the Optus Update Internet site, which is www.update.optus.net.au. And you have to make an application, fill out an application form. And you can ring them on 1800 500 614.

You get an application form or you can fax it in. When it’s completed you send it in, tell them what you want to appear on your phone, your Optus mobile phone. And you ring them, 1800

500 614. Amazing.799 2UE’s Submission to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by 2UE, 2UE also made the following

submission in relation to this broadcast:

Jones had been very publicly associated with Optus (through public appearances and advertising) for some years. This must condition his listeners’ expectations of the way in which he will deal with Optus and related topics whilst on-air.800 The Panel’s Findings The Panel finds that this is not a news or current affairs program. This program appears to be nothing other than an advertisement for ‘Optus UpDate’.

Code 2 is concerned only with news or current affairs programs.

This broadcast has been reproduced because it was dealt with in depth during the hearing.

The Panel finds that 2UE is not in breach of Code 2.2(d).

CWO.0001.0100 Submission made by 2UE – Alan Jones Broadcasts – Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D11

MOBILE PHONE CALL DROP OUT

Material Provided to Mr Jones On 17 August 1999 Optus sent a fax to Mr Jones saying ‘we’re pretty keen to promote our position on this issue’.801 A document entitled ‘Script – Alan Jones: Mobile Connection

Fees’, which was attached to the fax, covered the following points:

One of the biggest bug bears for mobile phone users is call drop out.

It’s become quite an issue lately - but at least the phone companies have acknowledged the problem and are spending millions of dollars on improving their networks.

But one thing many mobile users might not know is that some phone companies actually charge a connection fee every time you dial someone again after a call has dropped out.

Optus is one carrier that doesn’t charge connection fees for mobile calls to anywhere in Australia.

So if you’re not an Optus mobile customer, you should probably find out if you’re paying connection fees and, if so, how much it’s costing you?802 Material Broadcast by Mr Jones

On 1 September 1999 Mr Jones broadcast the following:

You know that mobile phones are the bain of all our lives, I was interested to learn – I mean if you use them and use them often. I mean I was interested to learn one aspect of all that that’s just been drawn to my attention which gives cause for concern, obviously the whole business of mobile phones dropping out drives us all around the bend, and you know the experience, you finish up talking to yourself until you realise that the line’s dropped out.

Well phone companies have acknowledged the problem and are apparently spending millions of dollars on improving their networks, but one thing you mightn’t know, is that some phone companies actually charge a connection fee every time you dial someone again after the call has dropped out. In other words, phone companies have no way of knowing that the call hasn’t been terminated, but rather, through imperfections in the system, has in fact, terminated itself, if you know what I mean.

Now I’m just telling you that Optus is one carrier which doesn’t charge a connection fee for mobile calls anywhere in Australia, so if you’re not an Optus mobile phone customer and you please yourself who you are, but you should probably find out if you’re paying connection fees. Honestly, I didn’t know that. How much is it costing you for your mobile phone? If it drops out you’ve paid to connect, and because of the system, it drops out you’re paying to connect and you’re paying to connect again. I call that a bit of a rip-off.803

–  –  –

2UE’s Submission to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by 2UE, 2UE also made the following

submission in relation to this broadcast:

Jones had been very publicly associated with Optus (through public appearances and advertising) for some years. This must condition his listeners’ expectations of the way in which he will deal with Optus and related topics whilst on-air.804 The Panel’s Findings The Panel finds that this broadcast is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on social and economic issues of relevance to the community.

The Panel finds the available fact of Mr Jones commercial agreement with Optus was withheld. The existence of Mr Jones’ commercial agreement with Optus was not disclosed in the broadcast.

The Panel finds that this available fact was relevant because:

♦ the issue was of concern to Optus. Optus told Mr Jones that ‘we’re pretty keen to promote our position on this issue’.805 Optus also sent a ‘script’ to Mr Jones which summarised Optus’ position regarding mobile phone call drop-out;806 ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Optus. Mr Jones says ‘Now I’m just telling you that Optus is one carrier which doesn’t charge a connection fee for mobile calls anywhere in Australia’;807 and ♦ Mr Jones used the ‘script’ provided to him by Optus.





The Panel notes 2UE’s submission that Mr Jones had been ‘very publicly associated with Optus (through public appearances and advertising) over some years’, and that this must condition listeners’ expectations regarding his disinterestedness or otherwise. However, clause 3.1(a) provides that advertisements must not be presented as news programs or other programs. To the extent that the presentation of any live read advertisement is capable of causing confusion in listeners’ minds with the editorial comment of Mr Jones, the Panel would be concerned that those live read advertisements may have breached clause 3.1(a).

Further, listeners should not be required to be aware of the public appearances of Mr Jones for Optus, which are external to the matter broadcast. Mr Jones’ public appearances for Optus are not, in the Panel’s view, sufficient disclosure of a commercial relationship between him and Optus, which encompasses on-air editorial conduct.

The Panel therefore does not accept the submission of 2UE in this regard.

The Panel finds that, in the presentation of a current affairs program, Mr Jones presented material in a misleading manner by withholding a relevant available fact, namely the existence of a commercial relationship between himself and Optus.

The Panel finds 2UE to be in breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Codes.

Submission made by 2UE – Alan Jones Broadcasts – Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D13 AJ.0001.0227 AJ.0001.0228 AJ.0001.0228

INTERVIEW WITH MR ANDERSON

Material Provided to Mr Jones On 16 November 1998 Optus forward information to Mr Jones hoping it would be ‘helpful tomorrow morning for your chat with Chris Anderson’. The following dot points were

provided:

… Optus will list today with a blue chip register of over 70,000 shareholders incorporating major domestic and international and private investors. And 80 percent of the 6,000 Optus employees are now also shareholders.

Optus is now officially one of Australia’s top 15 companies with an initial capitalisation of around $8 billion.

Every day Optus touches over 3.5 million customers and continues to drive its business forward with new and enhanced services … Also at 12.30 pm today, a traditional ‘ringing of the bells’ will take place to signal Cable & Wireless Optus’ listing on the ASX …808 Material Broadcast by Mr Jones Mr Jones interviewed Mr Chris Anderson on 17 November 1998. During the interview they discussed the float of Optus on the Stock Exchange and the success of Optus in the proceeding year.

During the interview, the following remarks were made:

MR JONES: … when you see the competition concept translated to mobile phone use, which is, of course, the jewel, I suppose, in your crown. But also, to long distance calls, you can see the benefit of it, can’t you? It is possible, for example, to call Optus to Optus now for nothing at night time … Now, in terms of today, I see that earnings per share forecasts for your sector, the telecommunications sector, show them growing by 14% this year.

… this will make the value roughly of your company, what, around about 9 billion?

That puts you in the top 10 to 15 Australian companies?

MR JONES: What about staff? They will be shareholders?

MR ANDERSON: Yes, 85% of our 6,000 or so staff have taken up shares. I think now that number is getting close to nearly 90%. So, the staff are really involved in this… MR JONES: That is on at 12.30 today. There will be all sorts of fandango down there, I have to tell you. But, it will be listed on the stock exchange. Now, as I said, the institutional investors paid $2.15 a share, which was 16% or 30 cents above the $1.85 paid by retail investors. It is a big growth area.

–  –  –

You heard him say, 3½ million customers Optus reaching each day, 70,000 on its local call network. For the past 12 months, Cable and Wireless Optus, have been signing up about 1,000 people a week to their 20 cent local call service. That rose to 2,000 a week this month. The whole issue is competition. If you get Telstra and Optus in the same market, the only winner will be the user.

Mr Jones’ Submission to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by Mr Jones, Mr Jones also made the following

submission in relation to this broadcast:

It was not suggested to Mr Jones that his decision to conduct the interview would not have been made but for the agreement or that the manner in which it was conducted was influenced by the existence or terms of the agreement.809 2UE’s Submission to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by 2UE, 2UE also made the following

submission in relation to this broadcast:

Jones had been very publicly associated with Optus (through public appearances and advertising) for some years. This must condition his listeners’ expectations of the way in which he will deal with Optus and related topics whilst on-air.

It is not suggested that the report of Optus’ results was inaccurate or misleading. If that be so, his connexion with Optus could not be a relevant available fact.810 The Panel’s Findings The Panel finds that this broadcast is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on social and economic issues of relevance to the community.

The Panel finds the available fact of Mr Jones commercial agreement with Optus was withheld. The existence of Mr Jones’ commercial agreement with Optus was not disclosed in the broadcast.

The Panel finds that this available fact was relevant because:

♦ Optus wished certain matters raised during the interview. Optus sent a fax to Mr Jones the day before the broadcast with information it considered would be ‘helpful’ during the interview;811 ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Optus. During the interview, Mr Jones refers to the telecommunications sector of the stock market as ‘a big growth area’;812 and ♦ Mr Jones used the information contained in the fax sent to him by Optus.

Submission made by Mr Alan Jones, p. 59.

Submission made by 2UE – Alan Jones Broadcasts – Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D21 AJ.0002.0280 CWO.0002.0460 The Panel considers that it is unnecessary for there to be evidence that the interview would not have been made but for the agreement or the manner in which it was conducted was influenced by the existence or terms of the agreement. The interview is favourable to Optus and contains material which Optus wanted raised during the interview. The existence of the agreement with Optus is a relevant available fact which should have been disclosed.

The Panel notes 2UE’s submission that Mr Jones had been ‘very publicly associated with Optus (through public appearances and advertising) over some years’, and that this must condition listeners’ expectations regarding his disinterestedness or otherwise. However, clause 3.1(a) provides that advertisements must not be presented as news programs or other programs. To the extent that the presentation of any live read advertisement is capable of causing confusion in listeners’ minds with the editorial comment of Mr Jones, the Panel would be concerned that those live read advertisements may have breached clause 3.1(a).

Further, listeners should not be required to be aware of the public appearances of Mr Jones for Optus, which are external to the matter broadcast. Mr Jones’ public appearances for Optus are not, in the Panel’s view, sufficient disclosure of a commercial relationship between him and Optus, which encompasses on-air editorial conduct.

The Panel therefore does not accept the submission of 2UE in this regard.

The Panel finds that, in the presentation of a current affairs program, Mr Jones presented material in a misleading manner by withholding a relevant available fact, namely the existence of a commercial relationship between himself and Optus.

The Panel finds 2UE to be in breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Codes.

HALF-YEARLY RESULT

Material Broadcast by Mr Jones

On 23 February 1999, Mr Jones broadcast the following:

Jacquesy mentioned Cable and Wireless Optus and the result yesterday. I must say well done to Chris Anderson and the people down there. A good half-yearly result.

The value of the company has risen by a billion dollars and Optus are going full steam towards selling what Chris Anderson calls ‘the full sweep of telephony services’.

This affects all of us – local, long distance, pay TV, Internet, you can get it all from the one provider: Cable and Wireless Optus.



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