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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 59 ] --

RAMS required that the scripts be strictly adhered to by the presenters. The advertisements which Laws read as live reads on his program, or recorded for use on other programs on 2UE or elsewhere, followed scripts which I prepared, or which were prepared by RAMS’ advertising agency.1036 The Panel accepts that the above script of 1 August 1997 is an accurate record of the broadcast in question.

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 social and economic issues of relevance to the community, namely interest rates.

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

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ the broadcast was critical of the banks. Mr Laws says ‘And what did the banks do?

Well, some of them didn’t pass on the full half a percent. And some of them have the cheek to apply the cut to their no-frills, very basic home loans, or home loans that lock you in for years’;1037 ♦ the broadcast was favourable to RAMS. Mr Laws says ‘On top of everything else, RAMS charges no monthly fees. None. And that’s one thing they’ve always said: RAMS are happy for you to call the banks and compare their terms … my advice is to get a better home loan too. Give RAMS a call’;1038 and ♦ Mr Laws was required to rely on the script provided to him by RAMS.

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 RAMS.

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

RAMS.0005.0495 Exhibit 41, Statement of Mr Greg Jones, paragraph 10.

RAMS.0008.0120 RAMS.0008.0120

FEES ARE GOOD FOR YOU

Material Provided to Mr Laws The following live read script, dated 7 August 1997 and entitled ‘ Fees are good for you’,

was provided to Mr Laws by RAMS:

There was a remarkable line in the Sunday Telegraph the other day. It said, ‘Higher bank charges are good for you.’ It was in an article written by their financial editor, Terry McCrann.

‘Higher bank charges are good for you.’ Now, it’s not as silly as it first appears, but it’s a bit of a worry. You see, I think the banks are softening us up to accept new fees, bigger fees… more fees.

There’s St George who are running training courses for their staff on how to educate customers that fees are good for them. It’ll have to be a great course, won’t it? And the National Bank admitted the other day that their fees are going up and customers will have to learn to love them Incredible.

But getting back to the Terry McCrann article in the Telegraph. There is sense in his argument which goes like this: Banks used to make their profits on the interest margins they charged on home loans, personal loans, business overdrafts, business loans and so on. (And didn’t they make some beauties? Remember Christopher Skase and Alan Bond.) Well the argument now is that, because of companies like RAMS Home Loans … because of competition … they can’t make their profits on margins, so they have to charge more fees.

People should pay fees for services the banks provide because otherwise all the other customers end up subsidising them.

Well this all sounds reasonable doesn’t it? But I have a couple of questions. For the banks. For Terry McCrann.

How much profit is enough profit? How high will fees have to be for the National to continue making 2 billion dollars profit a year?

And when are the banks going to stop closing branches, sacking staff and withdrawing services from their customers, and start sending some of those profits back the other way?

It’s not good enough to say they have to make profits for shareholders; what about the customers? Higher bank fees are good for you? I don’t think so.1039 2UE’s Submissions to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by Mr Laws, Mr Laws made the following

submissions in relation to this broadcast:

There is insufficient evidence of the content of the broadcast.

The broadcast, if it occurred, is a paid advertisement. Code of Practice 2 does not apply to paid advertising.1040 RAMS.0008.0125 Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, H3 The Panel’s Findings A document entitled ‘RAMS Marketing & Advertising Report - Media Advertising Activity’ indicated that on 7 August 1997 Mr Laws broadcast the live read script entitled ‘Fees are

good for you’.1041 Mr Greg Jones of RAMS gave evidence that:





RAMS required that the scripts be strictly adhered to by the presenters. The advertisements which Laws read as live reads on his program, or recorded for use on other programs on 2UE or elsewhere, followed scripts which I prepared, or which were prepared by RAMS’ advertising agency.1042 The Panel accepts that the above script of 7 August 1997 is an accurate record of the broadcast in question.

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 social and economic issues of relevance to the community, namely bank fees and charges.

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

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ the broadcast was critical of the banks. Mr Laws states ‘And when are the banks going to stop closing branches, sacking staff and withdrawing services from their customers, and start sending some of those profits back the other way? It’s not good enough to say they have to make profits for shareholders; what about the customers? Higher bank fees are good for you? I don’t think so’;1043 ♦ the broadcast was favourable to RAMS. Mr Laws states ‘Well the argument now is that, because of companies like RAMS Home Loans … because of competition … they can’t make their profits on margins, so they have to charge more fees’;1044 and ♦ Mr Laws was required to rely on the script provided to him by RAMS.

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 RAMS.

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

RAMS.0005.0495 Exhibit 41, Statement of Mr Greg Jones, paragraph 10.

RAMS.0008.0125 RAMS.0008.0125

SOCIAL CONTRACT

Material Provided to Mr Laws The following live read script, dated 7 August 1997 and entitled ‘ Social Contract ‘, was

provided to Mr Laws by RAMS:

There’s been an unwritten social contract in this country for about 100 years between the banks

and the community. What it says is this:

You’re a bank, we grant you a banking licence, so you have the privilege of being able to accept people’s deposits, make loans, make profits.

In return, you should look after our money, lend at a fair rate, and provide a reasonable banking service to all Australians.

Now, I may be looking through rose coloured glasses, but this seemed to work pretty well for many years. But now I wonder.

The financial world changed with deregulation and the lending mistakes the banks made in the 1980’s.

Suddenly the banks had lost money. A lot of money.

They needed to get it back – and they have – through the interest they charged on home loans, credit cards and other kinds of loans. Home loan rates were much, much higher before companies like RAMS came on the scene.

The Big Four banks have all made billion dollar profits in the past couple of years. The National Bank seems to consider $2 billion pretty much what it should make every year. And now the NAB is saying it should be allowed to take over one of the other banks. It says this is the best way to compete with giant overseas banks. It says we need a ‘superbank’ in Australia.

So there you have it. That’s the new social contract the banks want:

You, the customers, pay more fees and charges. We continue to make our massive profits. We close branches, sack staff and force you to use ATMs. And we gobble up the competition.

–  –  –

My advice is to get yourself a home loan from RAMS, and arrange your affairs so you use the banks as little as possible. Maybe when they have to compete harder, they’ll try harder to look after us.1045 2UE’s Submissions to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by Mr Laws, Mr Laws made the following

submissions in relation to this broadcast:

There is insufficient evidence of the content of the broadcast.

–  –  –

The broadcast, if it occurred, is a paid advertisement. Code of Practice 2 does not apply to paid advertising.1046 The Panel’s Findings A document entitled ‘RAMS Marketing & Advertising Report - Media Advertising Activity’ indicated that on 7 August 1997 Mr Laws broadcast the live read script entitled ‘Social

Contract’.1047 Mr Greg Jones of RAMS gave evidence that:

RAMS required that the scripts be strictly adhered to by the presenters. The advertisements which Laws read as live reads on his program, or recorded for use on other programs on 2UE or elsewhere, followed scripts which I prepared, or which were prepared by RAMS’ advertising agency.1048 The Panel accepts that the above script of 7 August 1997 is an accurate record of the broadcast in question.

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 social and economic issues of relevance to the community, namely banks and their place in society.

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

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ the broadcast was critical of the banks. Mr Laws states ‘So there you have it. That’s the new social contract the banks want: You, the customers, pay more fees and charges. We continue to make our massive profits. We close branches, sack staff and force you to use ATMs. And we gobble up the competition’;1049 ♦ the broadcast was favourable to RAMS. Mr Laws states ‘Home loan rates were much, much higher before companies like RAMS came on the scene … My advice is to get yourself a home loan from RAMS, and arrange your affairs so you use the banks as little as possible. Maybe when they have to compete harder, they’ll try harder to look after us’;1050 and ♦ Mr Laws was required to rely on the script provided to him by RAMS.

Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, H3 RAMS.0005.0495 Exhibit 41, Statement of Mr Greg Jones, paragraph 10.

RAMS.0008.0126 RAMS.0008.0126 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 RAMS.

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

ATM USAGE Material Provided to Mr Laws The following live read script, dated 15 August 1997 and entitled ‘ATM usage’, was

provided to Mr Laws by RAMS:

The ATM, the Automatic Teller Machine, - so you shouldn’t say ‘ATM Machine’ should you?

Because that would be ‘Automatic Teller Machine Machine’,… ATMs, the computerised money dispensers in the wall of the bank, are now used more often than branch visits to a bank, building society or credit union.

Yes, folks, the banks have got you. 23 per cent of transactions now go through ATMs. That’s according to the Roy Morgan Research people who did a survey in September 1996. Only 16% of transactions are done by you walking in to your bank or building society and talking to the human being on the other side of the counter. Not that there are many building societies left, are there? The banks have gobbled most of them up, or they turned into banks themselves. And companies like RAMS have pretty much replaced them with a better way of getting a home loan.



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