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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 48 ] --

Mr Laws submits there was nothing misleading about the manner in which the material was presented.920 Further that his listeners must have known of the association between him and the RTF when he conducted the interviews and made his comments. For example, Mr Laws referred repeatedly to ‘the truckies we call ‘Today’s Truckies’,’ to the Road Transport Forum and to ‘Today’s Truckies’ and in his interview with Carl Scully. No listener to that interview could think that Mr Laws was a ‘disinterested’ commentator upon these issues, and would put such value on his comments as the listener thought fit, knowing of Mr Laws’ affinity with trucking interests.921 ATA.0002.0331 See also Exhibit 49, paragraph 224.

Submissions made by Mr John Laws – Australian Trucking Association (Formerly Known As The Road Transport Forum), paragraph 11.

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

submission 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.

Laws recorded trucking albums, including a song which became the ‘truckies anthem’;

Laws’ intervention in the Razorback blockade;

Trucks travelling highways bearing tarpaulins which featured Laws’ likeness together with his motto (‘Keeping the Dream Alive’);

The RTF issued a media release publicising its relationship with Laws.

Comment relating to the ATA 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.922 The Panel’s Findings The Panel finds that the broadcast of this interview is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on political and economic issues of relevance to the community.

The Panel finds the available fact of Mr Laws’ commercial arrangement with the Australian Trucking Association was withheld during the broadcast. The existence of Mr Laws’ commercial arrangement with the Australian Trucking Association was not disclosed in the broadcast.

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ Mr Laws supports and advocates the Australian Trucking Association’s position regarding uniform registration across Australia, and the perceived reticence on behalf of the NSW Government to agree to the changes. For instance, Mr Laws says ‘shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to make it easy for people to be productive?’;923 and ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Australian Trucking Association. Mr Laws says ‘surely, the best advice would come from people like the Road Transport Forum who talk constantly to their members and to people involved in this’.924 The Panel notes 2UE and Mr Laws’ submissions that Mr Laws had been publicly associated with the Australian Trucking Association (through public appearances, blockade interventions, musical compilations, product placement and a press release) over some years, and that this must condition listeners’ expectations regarding his disinterestedness or otherwise.

See Exhibit 47, paragraph 215 and Exhibit 46. Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D1 ATA.0002.0331 ATA.0002.0331 The Panel is concerned here with the presentation of current affairs programs. To the extent that these broadcasts purport to represent the views or opinions of Mr Laws on matters of current affairs, listeners should be entitled to assume, in the absence of appropriate disclosure, that he is not receiving financial compensation to express those views. Listeners are entitled to assume that the public appearances or blockade interventions of Mr Laws are undertaken due to personal conviction, rather than financial obligations, to the Australian Trucking Association. Mr Laws’ public appearances and blockade interventions for the Australian Trucking Association are not, in the Panel’s view sufficient disclosure of a commercial relationship between him and the Australian Trucking Association.

Similarly, Mr Laws’ involvement in musical compilations and product placement, do not, in the Panel’s view, provide sufficient information to enable listeners to discern that Mr Laws had a commercial agreement with the Australian Trucking Association.

Further, the Panel notes that the press release issued by the Australian Trucking Association was issued on 20 July 1999, after the Media Watch program on 12 July 1999. While the Panel notes Mr Edmonds’ evidence that the Australian Trucking Association never sought to keep secret the existence of their commercial arrangement with Mr Laws,925 the Panel is of the view that there has not been sufficient disclosure to ensure that listeners would not be misled in the context of this broadcast.

The Panel therefore does not accept the submissions of 2UE and Mr Laws in this regard.

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

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





GIVEAWAYS Material Provided to Mr Laws

A live read script entitled ‘Giveaways’ was prepared for broadcast on 2UE. The text read:

I’ve always said that governments, and that includes local, state and federal governments – have a long way to go to fix up Australia’s roads. We all know they need fixing … And we pay for them … So where is the money actually going …? It’s certainly not back into the road system …! Well, Today’s Truckies asked for your help to identify the worst roads in Australia, and my mates at the Road Transport Forum have received hundreds of faxes … You listening Peter [Costello]…? You better be, because this proves how bad our roads are …!

Good thing Today’s Truckies are out there helping … Sure they need good roads … and we need them to have good roads, because without Today’s Truckies everything around you wouldn’t be there … Your Weetbix in the morning, the bricks in the house, toys for the kids, even my beloved Toyota’s; they all rely on good roads …!

Anyway, we’re going to pick out the top faxes and the team at Today’s Truckies is going to give away some special packs … They were so impressed, they’re going to give away 5 packs for the winners …! But we’re not going to tell you who the winners are today because we’re Transcript, Mr Edmonds, p. 173.

working with Mark Vaile the Federal Minister, and in early July, when I come back, we’ll announce the winners then.

Those Today’s Truckies packs will help, but what we need is governments to help ‘fix the roads’ …! And we won’t stop until they do …! Today’s Truckies certainly won’t let the Treasurer forget. And with a Federal Election coming up, we might just get John Howard and Kim Beazley interested. So don’t stop sending your faxes: 02 6248 9702, because my mates at the Road Transport Forum are going to make sure the government know – whoever that government may be …!926 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

On 10 June 1998 Mr Laws broadcast the following:

I’ve always said or thought that Governments and that includes Local, State and Federal Governments have got a lot way to go to fix up Australia’s roads. People in Sydney know this only too well. We all know they need fixing, we pay for them, so where is the money actually going? It’s not an unreasonable question. It’s certainly not going back into the roads system.

Today’s Truckies ask for your help to identify the worst roads in Australia and my mates at the Road Transport Forum have received literally hundreds of faxes. Peter [Costello] are you listening, you’d better be, because it proves how bad the roads are. It’s a good thing Today’s Truckies are out there. They need good roads and we need them to have good roads. Because if it weren’t for the truckies, everything around you wouldn’t be there. I mean you’re Weetbix wouldn’t be there, the bricks for your house wouldn’t be there, toys for the kids wouldn’t be there, Toyota’s wouldn’t be there. Fenamores carry them, they travel all over the country and they are delivered by truck.

Anyway, we’re going to pick out the top faxes and a team of Today’s Truckies are going to give away some special packs. Now, we’re so impressed we’re going to give away five packs for the winners. But we’re not going to tell you the winners are today because we’re working with Mark Vaile, the Federal Minister. And early in July when I come back we’ll announce the winners then.

Those Today’s Truckies packs will help too. But what we need is Governments to fix the roads. That’s all, as simple as that. We need Governments to fix roads, and they should be doing it. And I tell you what we won’t stop talking about it until such time as they do fix the roads.

Today’s Truckies certainly won’t let the Treasurer forget that or anybody else for that matter.

And of course we’ve got to remember State Governments as well. Are you listening Carl Scully? And with the Federal election coming up we might just get John Howard and Kim Beazley interested in this too. So don’t stop sending your faxes. I’ll give you the fax number again. 02624897. Road Transport Forum. We’re going to make the Governments aware of the fact that you are aware of the fact that we have a lot of bad roads in this country that we simply shouldn’t have.927 Mr Laws’ Submission to the Hearing

Mr Laws made the following submissions in relation to this broadcast:

2UE.0020.3805 ABA_Docs.0001.0019 Mr Laws submits there was nothing misleading about the manner in which the material was presented.928 Further that his listeners must have known of the association between him and the RTF when he conducted the interviews and made his comments. For example, Mr Laws referred repeatedly to ‘the truckies we call ‘Today’s Truckies’,’ to the Road Transport Forum and to ‘Today’s Truckies’ and in his interview with Carl Scully. No listener to that interview could think that Mr Laws was a ‘disinterested’ commentator upon these issues, and would put such value on his comments as the listener thought fit, knowing of Mr Laws’ affinity with trucking interests.929 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:

The broadcast is a paid advertisement. Code 2 does not apply to advertising.930 The Panel’s Findings The Panel notes 2UE’s submission that this broadcast is a paid advertisement. However, the Panel does not accept 2UE’s submission that code 2 does not apply to advertising. Code 2 is intended to apply to news and current affairs programs. In this regard, the Panel notes clause 3.1(b), which provides that advertising programs must comply with all other relevant codes of practice. The Panel also notes in this regard its concern that advertising not be presented as news programs or other programs, as this would be a breach of clause 3.1(a).

The Panel finds that this broadcast is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on political and economic issues of relevance to the community.

The Panel finds the available fact of Mr Laws’ commercial arrangement with the Australian Trucking Association was withheld during the broadcast. The existence of Mr Laws’ commercial arrangement with the Australian Trucking Association was not disclosed in the broadcast.

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ Mr Laws supported and advocated the Australian Trucking Association’s position regarding road repairs. For instance, Mr Laws says ‘I’ve always said or thought that Governments and that includes Local, State and Federal Governments have got a lot way to go to fix up Australia’s roads’;931 and ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Australian Trucking Association. Mr Laws says ‘Today’s Truckies certainly won’t let the Treasurer forget that or anybody else for that matter. And of course we’ve got to remember State Governments as well. Are you listening Carl Scully? And with the Federal election coming up we might just get John Howard and Kim Beazley interested in this too’.932 See also Exhibit 49, paragraph 224.

Submissions made by Mr John Laws – Australian Trucking Association (Formerly Known As The Road Transport Forum), paragraph 11.

Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D2 ABA_Docs.0001.0019 ABA_Docs.0001.0019 The Panel notes 2UE and Mr Laws’ submissions that Mr Laws had been publicly associated with the Australian Trucking Association (through public appearances, blockade interventions, musical compilations, product placement and a press release) over some years, and that this must condition listeners’ expectations regarding his disinterestedness or otherwise.

The Panel is concerned here with the presentation of current affairs programs. To the extent that these broadcasts purport to represent the views or opinions of Mr Laws on matters of current affairs, listeners should be entitled to assume, in the absence of appropriate disclosure, that he is not receiving financial compensation to express those views. Listeners are entitled to assume that the public appearances or blockade interventions of Mr Laws are undertaken due to personal conviction, rather than financial obligations, to the Australian Trucking Association. Mr Laws’ public appearances and blockade interventions for the Australian Trucking Association are not, in the Panel’s view sufficient disclosure of a commercial relationship between him and the Australian Trucking Association.

Similarly, Mr Laws’ involvement in musical compilations and product placement, do not, in the Panel’s view, provide sufficient information to enable listeners to discern that Mr Laws had a commercial agreement with the Australian Trucking Association.



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