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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 63 ] --

MR JONES: So you’ve got the Mayor of Manly – what would her mandate be? She’s actually complaining about all of this but isn’t it true to say that if Manly don’t make, for example, the Match of the Day, at any given weekend, under Optus Vision’s right to show rugby league on pay TV, you could see Manly play on Optus Vision pay TV so she’s got a constituency to which she’s trying to deny access to their capacity to see their own team on pay TV.

MR COUSINS: Absolutely. If we were excluded, say, from that area, then that would mean those people wouldn’t have access to the cheaper local phone calls, they wouldn’t be able to watch their team play half the time and, quite frankly, the residents of these areas, they want these services. It’s the councillors and a very small group of vocal people who are running around causing all of this trouble.

MR JONES: What are these dedicated community TV channels? You’ve got one, haven’t you? What is that?

MR COUSINS: What we’ve done – I think this is a terrific initiative – we’ve said that one of the great things about pay TV is it has a lot of capacity. We can devote a channel to one thing, which free to air can never do. So we’ve given to the community a channel called Local Vision. We’ve built a little studio which we give to the community, they can use it 24 hours a day and we’ll train them and any community groups can come in and make their own television programmes and put them on that channel.

MR JONES: And you pay for it.

MR COUSINS: We pay for everything.

MR JONES: The Chinese community have already made – MR COUSINS: We’ve got Chinese groups, we’ve got Rotary clubs using it.

MR JONES: This is Parramatta, is it?

MR COUSINS: This one at Parramatta. We’ve got one in Melbourne and a lot of the councils are using it and they like it very much. They can communicate with their local residents on it.

MR JONES: That’s story is never told, is it?

MR COUSINS: No, it isn’t and it just been an initiative from us. We haven’t tried to make a lot of publicity about it but I think it’s a tremendous benefit to the community.

MR JONES: You’re going to sponsor the Rugby League, the ARL Rugby League Premiership for the next five years.

MR COUSINS: We sure are. We are absolutely delighted to have it and very proud to have it called the Optus Cup, which is going to be called for the next five years and I’m looking forward to seeing a bit of play back on the paddock.

MR JONES: So are many other people. And Qantas will be sponsoring the finals as well but they’ll still be paying for the Optus Cup.

–  –  –

MR JONES: Good to talk to you. Geoff Cousins. A totally different story. And they are not going to go away, pay TV chain, Optus Vision, but it’s a much broader picture and a much more generous picture than sometimes is ever acknowledged.1094 Mr Jones’ Submission to the Hearing

Mr Jones made the following submission:

It is clear from Mr Cousin’s presence on the program and from what he says that he is seeking to draw public attention to Optus, its business and its positions on various issues. The subjective content is obvious. In the second broadcast, the interview commences with the question ‘How will you persuade people they should change from Telstra to you?’ This question directly addresses the right identified by the Communications Law Centre in its submissions, namely, the listeners’ right to know by whom he or she is being persuaded.1095 The Panel’s Findings

The Panel finds that this matter is an advertisement because:

♦ it is calculated or designed to promote Optus by focusing favourable attention on Optus and their plans to increase competition in telecommunications and reduce the cost of local telephone calls;

♦ Mr Jones also promotes Optus by criticising opposition to Optus. Mr Jones states ‘you’d go berserk trying to establish a telecommunications empire and getting the permission and consent of every local council around the country, wouldn’t you?’ Mr Jones criticises opposition to Optus’ overhead cable roll-out. Mr Jones states the Mayor of Manly is ‘actually complaining about all of this but isn’t it true to say that if Manly don’t make, for example, the Match of the Day, at any given weekend, under Optus Vision’s right to show rugby league on pay TV, you could see Manly play on Optus Vision pay TV so she’s got a constituency to which she’s trying to deny access to their capacity to see their own team on pay TV’1096; and ♦ valuable consideration was provided to Mr Jones by Cable and Wireless Optus Pty Limited.

The Panel finds that this advertisement has been presented as an ‘other program’ for the

following reasons:

♦ it has the characteristics and content of a current affairs program;

♦ it purports to concern matters relating to political, economic and social issues of relevance to the community, namely competition in telecommunications; and ♦ it was presented as an interview.

The Panel notes the submission of Mr Jones that the interest of the interviewee is clear and hence listeners know who is persuading them. Not all interviews conducted on radio with Exhibit 86, p. 123.

Submission made by 2UE – Alan Jones Broadcasts – Breach of Clause 3.1(a) of Code of Practice 3, C2 Exhibit 86, p. 123.





representatives of corporations are advertisements. The Panel does not accept this submission. While the interviewee’s position is declared, Mr Jones’ interest is not.

The Panel finds that 2UE breached clause 3.1(a) of the Codes.

INTERVIEW WITH MR COUSINS, 27 JUNE 1996 Material Broadcast by Mr Jones

On 27 June 1996, Mr Jones conducted the following interview with Mr Cousins:

MR JONES: Today is an historic day in Australia’s telecommunications history, the first time the Government monopoly, Telstra, has had a competitor in the local calls market. Optus will today announce its plans which, at the least, will mean cheaper local calls. Some suggest Optus could be charging between 15 and 20 cents per call as against Telstra’s 25 cents. The only problem would seem to be that if you decide to go with Optus you will have to get a new phone number, although Optus is saying it will provide a device which will tell callers of your new number, but it’s a fairly historic day and the culmination of many years of hard work for the people at Optus Vision. Geoff Cousins has done phenomenal job there and he’s the boss and he’s on the line. Geoff, good morning. How will you persuade people they should change from Telstra to you?

MR COUSINS: We’re going to give them a whole new deal, Alan. We’re going to give them better service, we are going to give them new features on the telephone and we’re actually going to cut the price of a 25 cent local phone call for the first time in the history of this country.

MR JONES: And, of course, you are going to be very coy and you’re not going to tell me till eleven o’clock this morning. Don’t worry about that. I understand, Geoff, I understand.

MR COUSINS: Even if we cut it by one cent, Alan, it would be an absolutely historic day because it’s been going up and up and up, year after year.

MR JONES: I might add, for the benefit of our listeners, the argument being ventilated yesterday was that if Telstra were to cut to match Optus their calls by one cent, they would lose on every cent $100 million a year, so it’s a very profitable industry. If someone after today, Geoff, wants to go with Optus for local calls, how do they go about it?

MR COUSINS: If a cable is in their area then we’ll be contacting them and we will come along, we’ll actually make the installation, we’ll give them a new handset and we’ll have them hooked up just as fast as we can. In the early months, frankly, we’re going to have trouble keeping up with the demand because I think there is going to be overwhelming demand.

MR JONES: So all those local government people who are racing off to court to stop the cables going up were people who effectively were trying to stop cheaper local calls.

MR COUSINS: I think most of those people have now swung round, Alan, as they’ve realised that there are very major benefits coming from this and we’re getting very good support from them now.

MR JONES: So how much of the market do you expect to capture?

MR COUSINS: I think we’re going to get a very decent share of the local call market. As I say, it will take us a little while to hook everybody up, because this is a physical connection. A truck has to roll to every home, we actually go and make the installation. Once we’ve done that, we maintain the line and if those people don’t want to do business with Telstra ever again they don’t have to. We will give them a complete telephone service now. Local calls, long distance, the whole lot.

MR JONES: And then when you serve, as you will today, a few Sampras-style aces, no doubt Telstra will try to return at about one minute past eleven.

MR COUSINS: That would be terrific. That doesn’t bother me. I think that’s what competition is all about and what that will mean is that people of Australia will get –

–  –  –

MR JONES: And the battlers, exactly. Good to talk to you. We’ll see you at eleven o’clock.

That’s Geoff Cousins. There will be a big announcement today at eleven o’clock. He’s the boss of Optus Vision. But a whole new day in the history of Australian telecommunications.1097 Mr Jones’ Submission to the Hearing

Mr Jones made the following submission:

It is clear from Mr Cousin’s presence on the program and from what he says that he is seeking to draw public attention to Optus, its business and its positions on various issues. The subjective content is obvious. In the second broadcast, the interview commences with the question ‘How will you persuade people they should change from Telstra to you?’ This question directly addresses the right identified by the Communications Law Centre in its submissions, namely, the listeners’ right to know by whom he or she is being persuaded.1098 The Panel’s Findings

The Panel finds that this matter is an advertisement because:

♦ it is calculated or designed to promote Optus focusing favourable attention on Optus and their plans to reduce the cost of local telephones calls. Mr Jones characterises Optus’ plans as historic. The interview is introduced by saying, ‘Today is an historic day in Australia’s telecommunications history, the first time the Government monopoly, Telstra, has had a competitor in the local calls market. Optus will today announce its plans which, at the least, will mean cheaper local calls’1099; and ♦ valuable consideration was provided to Mr Jones by Cable and Wireless Optus Pty Limited.

The Panel finds that this advertisement has been presented as an ‘other program’ for the

following reasons:

♦ it has the characteristics and content of a current affairs program;

Exhibit 86, p. 131.

Submission made by 2UE – Alan Jones Broadcasts – Breach of Clause 3.1(a) of Code of Practice 3, C2 Exhibit 86, p. 115.

♦ it purports to concern matters relating to political, economic and social issues of relevance to the community, namely competition in telecommunications; and ♦ it was presented as an interview.

The Panel notes the submission of Mr Jones that the interests of the interviewees are clear and hence listeners know who is persuading them. The Panel does not accept this submission. While the interviewee’s position is declared, Mr Jones’ interest is not.

The Panel finds that 2UE breached clause 3.1(a) of the Codes.

OPTUS SPORTS VISION

Material Provided to Mr Jones

On 30 June 1998, Optus sent the following ‘talking points’ to Mr Jones:

There continues to be some interesting manoeuvring in the pay television industry.

Only a couple of days ago Optus closed up its sports programming company because it was no longer commercially sustainable.

Yet within the space of 24 hours it’s been able to negotiate an equally attractive sports package with Channel Seven.

There’s been no harm done – Optus continues to hold key programming rights, including the AFL and NRL.

Pay television seems to be moving in the right direction – especially with Optus, which is probably the one operator hell bent on providing customers with a better deal.1100 Material Broadcast by Mr Jones On 1 July 1998 Mr Jones discussed the Optus Sports Vision liquidation reassuring customers that the exclusive sports programming previously screened on Sports Vision will still be available to pay television customers on Optus.

Mr Jones broadcast the following:

Optus – talking about sport – plenty of conjecture over that pay TV issue in … particularly this Optus Vision offshoot, Sports Vision. Of course, all the vultures then move over and say, hang on, the body is dead. Now, Optus. Sports Vision is the vehicle which channels Channel Seven’s AFL Coverage exclusively then to Optus TV. You might remember Seven, Channel Seven got both the free to air and pay TV rights to the AFL before there was any pay TV, and Optus Sports Vision was going to be the channel for the Sydney Olympic coverage, coverage again exclusive to Channel Seven and then exclusive to Optus.

Now, there was news earlier this week that a provisional liquidator had been appointed to Optus Sports Vision, and people were ringing me and saying, well what the hell’s happening, we see our … we see our pay TV sport on Optus Well hang on, there’s no problem. Optus has said that AFL and other programs now seen on Sports Vision will continue to be seen CWO.0002.0321 exclusively by Optus pay TV subscribers. This is all part of the manoeuvring of pay TV. It’s going to be difficult to go into the twenty-first century with two competing pay TV groups offering separate programming. But at the same time, while Optus has closed its sports programming company, Optus Sports Vision, because it wasn’t commercially sustainable, my understanding is that in the space of twenty-four hours, Optus was able to negotiate an equally attractive sports package with Channel Seven.



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