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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 43 ] --

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:

♦ the broadcast was favourable to the Registered Clubs Association of NSW and focuses on issues of concern to the Association. Mr Laws states ‘hope the NSW Government is as good as assessing worthwhile projects as the clubs have always been…’859 and ‘when the Fairfield Hospital needed $56,000 for new cardiac monitors it wasn’t the NSW Government that came to the rescue it was the local bowling club’.860 ♦ Mr Laws relied on the script provided to him 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.

2UE.0017.3218 RCA.0001.0047 RCA.0001.0047 RCA.0001.0047 RCA.0001.0047 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.

BIG TAX INCREASE #1 Material Provided to Mr Laws A live read script entitled ‘Big Tax Increase’ was prepared for broadcast on 2UE. The text

read:

This increase in tax on the Club industry certainly took everyone by surprise … And it’s a onethird increase, which means it’s certainly going to hurt! A lot of Clubs around the State already have various building projects underway - commitments they can’t get out of even if they wanted to… The money set aside for these projects will now go to the government to cover the tax increase, and that means a huge problem for many of our local clubs!

It means some will go into debt, some may close, and most of them will have to cut costs by cutting jobs!

It’s a tough tax … A one-third increase with no warning. It makes you wonder who the State Government will target next?

–  –  –

Many people are up in arms over the 10% bed tax, yet the Clubs are facing an increase of 33%!

It won’t just affect jobs - many critical community projects are also at risk!861 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,

indicates that on 5 June 1997, Mr Laws said:

… the increase in tax on the club industry took everyone by surprise … it is going to hurt people … money set aside for projects will go to the NSW Government … makes you wonder who the NSW Government are going to target next.862 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.

2UE.0017.3221 RCA.0001.0025 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:

♦ the broadcast was favourable to the Registered Clubs Association of NSW and focuses on issues of concern to the Association. Mr Laws states ‘makes you wonder who the NSW Government are going to target next’.863 ♦ 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.

BIG TAX INCREASE #2 Material provided to Mr Jones A live read script entitled ‘Big Tax Increase’ was prepared for broadcast on 2UE. The text

read:

The Club industry generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year… And as non-profit organisations, they put hundreds of millions back into the community… City Tattersalls Club donated $60,000 worth of food to the Sydney City Mission… Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club recently donated almost $11,000 to local sports, including Junior Rugby and Little Athletics… These are the sorts of community projects which rely on their local Clubs: the very projects which may now disappear because of the State Government’s tax increase on Clubs. It’s a tough tax…Be interesting to see who really benefits…!





–  –  –

Along with the community projects, there are thousands of jobs throughout New South Wales Clubs that will be affected - around 8,500…!

Local money for local projects - that’s what the Clubs have always been about…864

–  –  –

A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,

indicates that on 10 June 1997, Mr Laws said:

… the club industry puts hundreds of millions of dollars a year back into the community … donated $60,000 worth of food to the Sydney City Mission … projects may disappear because of the stupid NSW Government tax increases to the clubs…865 A summary of matter broadcast, recorded by Rehame Australia Monitoring Service,

indicates on 13 June 1997, Mr Laws said:

… we are talking about the club tax … will affect the groups who can least afford it … will affect the Starlight Foundation, Calvary Hospital, Meals on Wheels, St Mary’s Refuge for Women … they are the ones that clubs work to support … hard to see any benefit from what is just another increase in NSW taxes…866 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:

♦ the broadcast was favourable to the Registered Clubs Association of NSW and focuses on issues of concern to the Association. Mr Laws states ‘the club industry puts hundreds of millions of dollars a year back into the community’. Mr Laws is critical of the Government, ‘stupid NSW Government tax increases to the clubs’867 ♦ 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.

–  –  –

COMMENTS ON LABOR’S GAMBLING POLICY

Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

On 12 March 1999, Mr Laws broadcast the following:

At the beginning of the program I talked about Bob Carr with a new promise concerning EFTPOS facilities and credit card use in clubs and said it was a good idea except the Club Party had thought of it before – the Registered Club Party.

Now, I don’t know much about this Club Party but somebody sent me yesterday a jingle and I thought – have you seen the new Liberal Party things, I’ve only seen parts of them? I mean I just think that’s desperation stuff, I’m sorry. I’d love to be enthusiastic, but a Bob Carr look alike, I’m sorry, that’s desperation stuff.

Why didn’t you think of some good stuff? Listen to what the Registered Club Party did. I mean how much money has the Registered Club Party got for God’s sake and listen to what

they came up with:

–  –  –

I think it’s great, I really do. Kerry, why didn’t you get a group together to do something like that? It would have been more fun, it tells the story, I think it’s fantastic. And the reason that it came to my attention. We were talking about this voluntary code of conduct put together by the Registered Clubs Association.

And I support the Registered Clubs Association, I think they do a huge amount for the community and I have a lot of good friends involved in clubs all over the place, as you can imagine, because I spend a lot of time drinking booze, so I know a lot of people. I’m not a gambler, but I know a lot of people in the clubs movement. And I just think they do wonderful, wonderful work.

Labor’s new gambling policy. Apparently ATM and EFTPOS machines will be banned from gambling areas. And as I said, it’s a good idea Bob except the Registered Clubs Association made the announcement before you did, they got in first.

Maybe we should stop and think about the Registered Clubs Party. They’re saying something – I’m going to play the jingle again, they’re not paying for this. Somebody will probably object and say well you’re giving free air time to a political party. I suppose I am but I’m using it by way of example of what could have been done.

Because the Registered Clubs Party, I imagine, wouldn’t have huge funds like the Liberal Party or the Coalition collectively would have. And yet they came up with something that people will listen to, yet actually makes you feel good and it tells the story. Instead of having look alikes of Bob Carr, for God’s sake.

–  –  –

Yeah, it makes you feel good. Makes you feel good. That’s what advertising should be about.

And it really should be about just that.868

–  –  –

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

submissions in relation to this broadcast:

Mr Laws submits that it is not open to the ABA, as a matter of the law, to find this broadcast contravened clause 2.2(d) of the Commercial Radio Code of Practice. Putting the matter another way, there is no reasonable basis for such a conclusion.

Mr Laws, presumes, in the absence of any indication to the contrary, that the only breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Code of Practice alleged was his failure to disclose the existence of his agreement with the Registered Clubs Association (‘RCA’).

… In addition to those submissions, however, the following short submissions are put specifically dealing with the impugned broadcast.

(i) Properly and fairly analysed, it is patent the gravamen of the broadcast dealt with a party known as the Registered Club Party with which Mr Laws had no association of any kind.

In the broadcast, Mr Laws favourably compared the electoral advertising of the Registered Club Party, including its jingle (which he played twice in the course of the broadcast) with what he regarded as inept campaigning on the part of the Liberal party led by ‘Kerry’ (Chikarovski). He criticised the Liberal party for its Bob Carr look alike advertising.

In addition, he referred briefly to Labour’s new gambling policy involving the banning of ATM and EFTPOS machines from gambling areas. He says it was a good idea ‘except the Registered Clubs Association made the announcement before (Mr Carr) did, they got in first’.

He also said he was a supporter of the Registered Clubs Association, stating that:

I think they do a huge amount for the community and I have a lot (of) good friends involved in clubs all over the place, as you can imagine, because I spend a lot of time drinking booze, so I know a lot of people. I’m not a gambler, but I know a lot of people in the clubs movement, and I just think they do wonderful, wonderful work.

(ii) Since it is not suggested that anything Mr Laws said about his support of the RCA was untrue or capable of leading to error by what was said or not said, there was nothing misleading about what he said about the RCA or the Labor Party or the Liberal Party or the Registered Club Party;

(iii) Anyone listening to the broadcast would know ‘where he was coming from’, namely, from a position of support for the RCA. This was disclosed. There was no contravention of the Code involved in not disclosing the commercial arrangement with the RCA;

(iv) The thrust of the broadcast dealt with the Registered Clubs Party. It is a long bow to say that Mr Laws, at the pain of being in breach of Code of Practice clause 2.2 (d) was required to disclose that he had a sponsorship agreement with the RCA when he referred to the Registered Club Party, a different entity.



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