«COMMERCIAL RADIO INQUIRY Report of the Australian Broadcasting Authority Hearing into Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Limited February 2000 Sydney ISBN 0 642 ...»
The milestone was reached one week earlier than forecast, due mainly to installations reaching a high of 7,000 customers a week for the past three weeks. Having stress tested the network at this level, local telephony activations will be maintained at around 5,000 customer activations per week.823 Material Broadcast by Mr Jones
On 23 June 1999, Mr Jones broadcast the following:
An interesting announcement by Cable and Wireless Optus yesterday. You’ll appreciate that I’ve said many times the biggest problem that Telstra imposed on us is the exorbitant cost of local telephone calls. We’re almost, if not the, dearest in the world. And breaking down the Telstra monopoly of the local telephone industry is damn difficult. My own view is that Telstra shouldn’t have been privatised until that monopoly was broken down.
But Cable and Wireless Optus have announced that they’ve installed 170,000 - that’s a lot directly connected local telephony customers prior to the end of this financial year. That’s something. When they listed on the Stock Exchange last year, they said they’d do that. In other words, Cable and Wireless Optus are connecting local telephone customers. It’s in the broadband HFC network, and they recently announced a joint venture with the world’s leading aggregator of broadband content and service provision, which is Excite at Home, which will provide through the same broadband a range of services right into your home.
But on local telephones - I mean, if you’re unhappy - Cable and Wireless Optus are connecting 7,000 a week, or they have over the past three weeks. And this is the competition that I’ve been talking about for a long time that must be secured in the market place to Telstra. And Cable and Wireless are the only company competing in local telephony.
Now, remember when Optus came into the long distance calls way back, and mobile calls, the prices dropped. This is the only way the consumer’s going to get some benefit out of local telephone call costs. So if you’re looking to support the notion of competition in telecommunications, start with the local phone call and think about Cable and Wireless Optus.824 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.825 AJ.0001.0097 AJ.0001.0098_01; Exhibit 86, p. 183.
Submission made by 2UE – Alan Jones Broadcasts – Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D28 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 sent a fax to Mr Jones the day before the broadcast referring to the matter as ‘significant’;826 ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Optus. During the broadcast, Mr Jones says ‘when Optus came into the long distance calls way back, and mobile calls, the prices dropped.
This is the only way the consumer’s going to get some benefit out of local telephone call costs’;827 and ♦ Mr Jones used the information 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.
AJ.0001.0096 AJ.0001.0098_01; Exhibit 86, p. 183.
Schedule 12: Conduct on the John Laws Morning Show Involving Breaches Of Clause 2.2(d) of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice By Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Limited Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Limited (2UE) is the licensee of the commercial radio broadcasting licence with call sign 2UE. As licensee, 2UE is responsible for the content of material broadcast.
From the material available to the Panel evidencing the content of a broadcast, the Panel finds that in none of the broadcasts alleged to have breached clause 2.2(d) of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice has there been disclosure of the fact of a commercial agreement between Mr Laws and a sponsor.
2UE and Mr Laws made a number of general submissions in relation to many of the broadcasts alleged to have breached clause 2.2(d). For discussion on these general submissions, please see ‘Code of Practice 2 – News And Current Affairs Programs‘ on page 17.
Registered Clubs Association of New South Wales The Panel notes that Mr Laws was aware of the existence of his commercial relationship with the Registered Clubs Association of New South Wales (see ‘Mr Laws’ Agreements and His On-Air Conduct‘ on page 47).
GENERAL COMMUNITY #1 Material Provided to Mr Laws
A live read script dated 23 March 1997 was provided to Mr Laws. The text read:
You have to be impressed with the work Clubs do in the community. They’re putting hundreds of millions of dollars a year into health, and sport, and aged care and all the sorts of areas we just take for granted. Some groups ask the Clubs for help, other times a local club sees a need and steps in to help out…! It’s not just the big clubs either… You may not have heard of St Johns Park Bowling Club, but the doctors and staff at Fairfield Hospital have. That’s because St Johns Park Bowling Club donated $56,000 towards monitoring equipment at Fairfield’s Coronary Care Unit…! Lots of money … Good to know there are people out there that care.
Good to know we have the Clubs looking out for us.828 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,
indicates that on 2 April 1997, Mr Laws said:
… the clubs are putting hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the community … St Johns Park Bowling Club donated $56,000 towards monitoring equipment at Fairfield Hospital.829 A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,
indicates that on 4 April 1997, Mr Laws said:
… the clubs help the community in many ways … St John’s Park Bowling Club has donated money to Fairfield Hospital.830 A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,
indicates that on 8 April 1997, Mr Laws said:
… you have to be impressed with the work that clubs do for the community … they are helping people in sport and helping elderly people … the St John’s Bowling Club have donated fifty six thousand dollars to Fairfield Hospital.831 A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,
indicates that on 17 April 1997, Mr Laws said:
… St John’s Park Bowling Club have donated money to Fairfield Hospital … the clubs are looking after us.832 Mr Laws’ Submission to the Hearing
Mr Laws made the following submissions in relation to this broadcast:
Of these live-reads, John Laws submits – and, as Australia’s most experienced and successful commercial broadcaster, his submission should carry considerable weight – they were, and would be received by his listeners as advertisements which were frequently embellished with personal endorsement – and not as mere commentary upon issues of the day...833 Bearing in mind radio is an aural medium, it is not appropriate, in Mr Laws’ respectful submission, to judge when these scripts went to air, they would have been perceived by the listeners to be otherwise than advertisements and instead to be general program material, when the ABA has been unable to listen to these scripts being read. Moreover, one does not know the context of the program in which the scripts were read, whether there were pauses or stings RCA.0001.0085 RCA.0001.0070 RCA.0001.0070 RCA.0001.0070 RCA.0001.0070 Submissions made by Mr John Laws – Registered Clubs Association, p. 2.
preceding or succeeding the live reads, or whether there were other flags or markers that would have led the listener to understand they were listening to advertisements …834 With respect, the effect of the evidence given both by Ms Wild and Mr Laws was to make just that suggestion and, in any event, it was incumbent upon Counsel Assisting to adduce evidence as to the manner in which these advertisements were broadcast … It is noteworthy that none of the listeners has been called to give evidence to the Authority about his or her perception of the live-reads, and no other survey or focus group material has been tendered upon this issue… In these circumstances, it is not open to the Authority to find that any of these live-reads were presented as anything other than that which they were, in fact, namely, paid advertisements. It is a mistake to believe that a listener would not receive material in which the word Clubs was repeatedly mentioned in a concentrated segment as an advertisement, merely because a telephone number was not broadcast or because the advertisement did not expressly say it was an advertisement paid for by the RCA. It is submitted the listeners are somewhat more sophisticated than perhaps the submissions of Counsel Assisting give them credit.835 2UE’s Submission to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by 2UE, 2UE also made the following
submissions in relation to this broadcast:
There are particular features of the broadcast and the announcer’s position which would have dispelled, or limited the scope and nature of the assumption of disinterestedness. The public knew that Laws was a ‘Clubs’ person.
Comment relating to the Clubs was only put to air after both Laws and his producer, Megan Brownlow, had exercised their judgments as to whether the information would be properly informative and entertaining to listeners.836 The broadcast is a paid advertisement. Code of Practice 2 does not apply to advertising.837 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 notes the difficulty of ascertaining whether facts have been disclosed where only a summary of the statements broadcast exists. The summary does not indicate that the available fact of Mr Laws’ contractual agreement with the Registered Clubs Association of NSW was disclosed. The Panel notes however, that it has not been demonstrated by 2UE, the Registered Clubs Association of NSW or Mr Laws that disclosure of the agreement was made during this broadcast.
The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:
Submissions made by Mr John Laws – Registered Clubs Association, p. 3.
Submissions made by Mr John Laws – Registered Clubs Association, p. 3.
See Exhibit 47, paragraph 211; Exhibit 46 Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, A ♦ the broadcast was favourable to the Registered Clubs Association of NSW and focuses on issues of concern to the Association. Mr Laws states ‘the clubs are looking after us’838 and ‘you have to be impressed with the work that clubs do for the community’;839 and ♦ Mr Laws relied on the script provided by the Registered Clubs Association of NSW.
The Rehame summaries record the key phrases of the broadcast. The key phrases recorded in the Rehame summaries correlate to the phrases in the scripts provided to Mr Laws.
The Panel is of the view that it is unsafe to conclude that the summaries prove conclusively that the relevant available fact was withheld during the broadcast. The Panel does not have access to audio recordings or full transcripts of these broadcasts due to their age.
The Panel is unwilling to find 2UE in breach of clause 2.2(d) due to the lack of full transcripts on which to base the finding.
GENERAL COMMUNITY #2 Material Provided to Mr Laws A live read script entitled ‘General Community’ dated 23 March 1997 was prepared for
broadcast on 2UE. The text read:
With Clubs throughout New South Wales putting around $700 million a year back into the community, there are a lot of great stories to tell. But some of the stories that won’t make the press are also some of the most important… Some of the acts of charity by our Clubs often involve no more than a gesture of goodwill… or maybe a few hundred dollars that will make all the difference. When Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club has an outboard motor stolen from one of it’s rubber duckies before Christmas, it was another Club that stepped into help … Pittwater RSL got them afloat by donating a new engine and accessories worth around $2,000. Doesn’t take much, but it does make a difference.
That’s what Clubs do, and that’s why we love them…!840 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,
indicates that on 9 April 1997, Mr Laws said: