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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 56 ] --

♦ the broadcast was favourable to the Bankers’ Association. During the interview, Mr Aveling was given the opportunity to promote the profile of banking in Australia.

Mr Aveling says ‘So let me say the banks are well used to the situation and probably for 180 years they’ve been supporting their customers through droughts and floods and bushfires and other disasters’;1006 and ♦ a memo to the banks from Mr Aveling entitled ‘2UE – John Laws Program’ and dated 5 March 1999 reveals that Mr Aveling regarded the interview as having taken place as a result of the agreement with Mr Laws. In this memo Mr Aveling gave a progress report on the effect that this agreement (which had been finalised prior to the memo being sent)

was having. Under the heading ‘Additional Positive Airtime’ he noted that:

… since 19 February when we confirmed our agreement with him, Mr Laws has also given a further 6.5 minutes of positive airtime to banks, including two additional on-air discussions with me … In the second, I was able to talk about bank assistance to farmers affected by the Crookwell bushfires.1007 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 Bankers’ Association.

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

INTERVIEW WITH MR AVELING, 2 MARCH 1999 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

On 2 March 1999 Mr Laws broadcast the following:

–  –  –

MR AVELING: Good, thanks. John, I’m sitting on a bale of straw at a place called Longrenon which is near Horsham in western Victoria.

MR LAWS: I know Longrenon very well, I have quite an interest down there, in fact.

MR AVELING: Yes, it’s a great place. And I just wanted to let you know that I’ve just heard today’s episode of ‘the whole story’ on 3WN.

–  –  –

MR AVELING: And also you talking to the Mayor of Crookwell and, hey, the story was great and it’s just a terrific way of bringing history alive, but I just wanted to congratulate you.

MR LAWS: Well, that’s really very nice of you, Tony, because the response we’ve had to it here has been absolutely amazing. I mean, people love them and want to get copies of them and everything so I’m sure we can pursue it, and I hope we’ve done the right thing by pursuing the whole story for the banks. I’ve got a couple of faxes which I’ll be passing on to you.

MR AVELING: Well, people are talking about it down here, let me tell you that, John.

–  –  –

MR AVELING: Well, I think, John, today’s the opening of the Wimmera Machinery Field Day and that’s a big event in this part of the world as you probably know. And Jeff Kennett’s just been doing the honours.

For my part, I’m here to help Senator Troeth and also Ian Donges from the National Farmers Federation. We’re launching an exciting new product for farmers which is called Farm Management deposit.

MR LAWS: And is that happening today?

MR AVELING: Yes, it is. We’ll be doing that in about three-quarters of an hours time. What this is, John, is it replaces the Federal Government’s old income equalisation screen which just wasn’t working well enough, and what it is, it’s a national scheme which has been devised with the Government and the NFF, and it’s going to allow farmers to put aside funds in the good times so that they’ve got money in the bad times.

But the beauty of it all is that it does it in a tax effective manner.

MR LAWS: Has this actually been set up by the banks?

MR AVELING: It’s a combination of the banks, the Federal Government, and the National Farmers Federation, so we’ve all been able to sit down and work out what farmers really need and what’s going to help them in the long term.

MR LAWS: Yes, well the other scheme was inefficient and didn’t really work properly did it?

MR AVELING: No, it didn’t. It was complicated, you had to go to your accountant and the advantage about this is that farmers - they can deposit their funds, receive a tax deduction for the full deposit during that tax year. So, you don’t even pay any tax until you withdraw the money.

And the farmers are going to be able to arrange all of this direct with their bank or other financial institution. So, we think this is going to be much more available and it will be a very successful product.

MR LAWS: Yes, if only we had had it in place prior to the Crookwell incident. But anyway Crookwell and I suppose everybody else can be involved if they chose, can’t they?

MR AVELING: Absolutely. And I think we should all be helping farmers in situations like that.

MR LAWS: Yeah, well, I know you did your best, there, and I thank you for it, and thank you very much for the call, I’m happy you like ‘the whole story’, I have to tell you I’m loving doing it and the response has been great, which is good.

MR AVELING: Okay. Well, thank you very much, John.

–  –  –

MR LAWS: Bye. Tony Aveling who, as you know, is from the Australian Bankers Association and we got involved because we bag the banks. And people are still doing it but I said that I would pass all the information on.1008 The Panel’s Findings The Panel finds that this broadcast is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on a social and economic issue of relevance to the community, namely the introduction of a new banking scheme for farmers – the ‘Farm Management Deposit Scheme’.





The Panel finds that the available fact of Mr Laws’ commercial agreement with Australia Street Consulting to promote Bankers’ Association was withheld. The existence of Mr Laws’ agreement was not disclosed in the broadcast.

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ the broadcast was favourable to the Bankers’ Association. During the interview, Mr Aveling was given the opportunity to promote the profile of banking in Australia.

Mr Aveling says ‘It’s a combination of the banks, the Federal Government, and the National Farmers Federation, so we’ve all been able to sit down and work out what farmers really need and what’s going to help them in the long term’;1009 ♦ Mr Laws says ‘the response we’ve had to it [The Whole Story History Program] here has been absolutely amazing. I mean, people love them and want to get copies of them and everything so I’m sure we can pursue it, and I hope we’ve done the right thing by pursuing the whole story for the banks. I’ve got a couple of faxes which I’ll be passing on to you’;1010 and ♦ a memo to the banks from Mr Aveling entitled ‘2UE – John Laws Program’ and dated 5 March 1999 reveals that Mr Aveling regarded the interview as having taken place as a result of the agreements with Mr Laws and Australia Street Consulting. In this memo Mr Aveling gave a progress report on the effect that these agreements were having on

radio coverage of banking issues. He noted that:

We have completed the first week of our broadcasting arrangement with John Laws. It is going very well … I have included … an example of Mr Laws giving the industry the chance to present positive issues (in this case a call from me regarding the Farm Management Deposits scheme).1011 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 Bankers’ Association.

Exhibit 75.

Exhibit 75.

Exhibit 75.

BANK.0002.0389 The Panel finds 2UE to be in breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Codes.

ELECTRONIC CASH TRANSFERS AND CHEQUE

CLEARANCE Material Provided to Mr Laws On 4 March 1999 the Bankers’ Association sent Mr Laws a memo entitled ‘Response to listener fax on banking’. The proposed script was described as ‘a bit strong, but checked with both banks’:1012 Talking about cheques and electronic transfers reminds me...we had a fax earlier this week from a fellow named Ken from Woollahra and he asked me for the whole story on a problem he said his wife had at a bank.

–  –  –

Well, Ken we followed up your complaint. The banks involved were very cooperative.

But, you see Ken, it is a little hard for me when you don’t tell me the whole story.

Now, the banks didn’t tell me this, but I know that it wasn’t your wife who was in the bank…it was you Ken. And I understand that you were trying to do the share deal on the mobile phone while you were at the counter.

Anyway, the banks involved have told me that an electronic transfer was available, but because it was from one bank to another it is done in the overnight settlement period. If it had been from one branch to another of the same bank it would have taken just minutes.

So, Ken you weren’t quite right when you said the bank couldn’t make an electronic transfer. It just couldn’t do it quickly enough for your needs.

You are right – you could have used a bank cheque. And, I understand the people at St George offered to do their best to cooperate for a fast clearance. I can only assume 24 hours was not fast enough, or you didn’t want to pay the fee…or whatever.

But both banks involved say it would not have taken five days to clear that bank cheque if the person depositing the bank cheque had asked.

As for the ten thousand dollars in cash – I think St George did well to have that amount of cash available for you – not your wife Ken, for you – to carry across the street.

And don’t forget Ken, there was the warrant system…it costs a few dollars and means a staff member leaving the branch and going in person to the other bank, but it provides cleared funds immediately.

I’m not sure what the other customers waiting in the Branch would have made of the staff leaving them waiting so you could make a killing on the share market.

–  –  –

First, if you want the banks and me to tell you the whole story, you have to do the same.

BANK.0002.0385 And second, if you are playing the share market, think about setting up a line of credit with your broker. That’s what most people do.1013 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

On 8 March 1999 Mr Laws broadcast the following:

MR LAWS: Speaking of faxes, do you remember this fax I read the other day?

… How about the full story from the banks on this one? My wife wanted to buy some shares on Friday, she doesn’t have a broker so she arranged for her accountant to organise the deal. He told her to go to the bank and make an electronic cash transferral so the shares could be bought that afternoon, the price was rising by the hour. My wife went to the bank, the Advance at Rose Bay, and was told the bank could not make an electronic transfer.

When she explained that the matter was urgent she was told she could have a bank cheque made out to the broker’s bank which was Westpac. But there was a catch there because Westpac couldn’t clear the cheque for five days and the brokers wanted the money up front.’ Look, I understand what you’re saying, the guy - why does it take five days to clear a bank cheque? I mean, a bank cheque should be as good as cash, that’s not unreasonable. My writer

then goes onto say:

‘My wife was forced to take $10,000 in cash from the Advance Bank, cross the road to Westpac and pay the cash into the broker’s account. What’s the full story with electronic banking, John? And why do banks have to wait five days to clear a bank cheque, John?’ Signed, Ken, from Woollahra.

Well, we followed it all up for you, Ken, if you’re listening. The banks involved, incidentally, were very, very co-operative but you kept asking for the whole story but it’s a little hard for me to give you the whole story when you haven’t given me the whole story.

It wasn’t your wife who was in the bank, it was you, Ken, wasn’t it? That’s the message we had. And I understand that you were trying to do the share deal on a mobile phone while you were at the counter of the bank.

Anyway, the banks involved have told me that an electronic transfer was available but because it was from one bank to another, and it’s done in the overnight settlement period - if it had been from one branch to another of the same bank it would have been just minutes.

So, Ken you weren’t quite right when you said the bank couldn’t make an electronic transfer, they just couldn’t do it quickly enough for your needs. You are right, you could have used a bank cheque but I understand the people at St George offered to do their best to co-operate for a fast clearance, I can only assume 24 hours was not fast enough or you didn’t want to pay the fee, or whatever it was.

But both banks involved say it would not have taken five days to clear that bank cheque if the person depositing the bank cheque had asked. As for the $10,000 in cash, I think St George did well to have that amount of cash available for you, Ken, not your wife, for you, to carry across the street.

–  –  –

And don’t forget, Ken, there was the warrant system, it costs a few dollars, it means a staff member leaving the branch and going in person to the other bank but it provides cleared funds immediately.

Now, I’m not sure what the other customers waiting in the branch would have made of the staff leaving them waiting so you could make a killing on the sharemarket but, Ken, let me offer you just one little piece of advice: First, if you want the banks and me to tell you the whole story, it’s only fair that you do the same, and second, if you’re playing the sharemarket think about setting up a line of credit with your broker. That’s what most people do.

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 particular broadcast:



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