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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 72 ] --

The banks must have hated reading the papers last week. In the Financial Review – and I guess all bankers would read that wouldn’t they? That’d be their Bible. In the Financial Review the headline read. ‘Westpac home loan share down to 16 per cent.’ And the article goes on to say Westpac went down from 18 per cent to 16 per cent market share in the past 12 months. The ANZ dropped. St George… and Colonial State… they dropped market share, too.

–  –  –

Now, some of that drop was taken up by the Commonwealth and the National Bank. But the big winners were companies like RAMS Home Loans. People are definitely shifting their preferences away from the banks aren’t they?

Remember that Morgan Research survey I talked about a few weeks back?…it was in Business Review Weekly. They asked people an interesting question: ‘Who would you consider going to for your mortgage?’ 22.6% said the NAB. 20.5% said RAMS…20.5%. 20.1% the Commonwealth Bank. It’s extraordinary isn’t it? RAMS has been around for what, 4 or 5 years? The Commonwealth Bank and Westpac for 90 or a hundred years or more? You’d think they’d be so much a part of the fabric of our lives that we’d stay with them forever.

That’s obviously what the banks think. That’s why they think they can get away with closing branches and sacking staff and charging you higher fees for everything while they go on their merry way making obscenely large profits every year. They’re relying on our loyalty and I guess, in some respects on our inertia. They’re hoping people won’t be bothered to look at the alternatives.

But Australians are very good at working out who is offering them a better deal and who they like doing business with. Who they prefer to go to for a home loan. And they’re picking up the phone and shopping around. Comparing interest rates and terms… and fees.

And judging by all these results, it looks like they’re picking RAMS.1154 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws RAMS Marketing & Advertising Report - Media Advertising Activity indicates that on 22 August 1997 Mr Laws broadcast the live read script entitled ‘Westpac down to 16%’.

The Panel’s Finding

For the following reasons the Panel finds that the matter broadcast is an advertisement:

♦ it is calculated or designed to promote RAMS by favourably comparing RAMS to the banks with respect to fees, bank closures and the ‘obscenely’ large profits enjoyed by the banks; and ♦ valuable consideration was provided to Mr Laws by RAMS.

The Panel also notes that in its submission, 2UE considered this broadcast to be an advertisement.

For the following reasons the Panel finds that this advertisement has been presented as an ‘other program’, in this case a current affairs program:

♦ it has the characteristics and content of a current affairs program; and ♦ it appears to be concerned with matters relating to social and economic issues of relevance to the community, namely bank closures and trends in the home loan market.

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

–  –  –

ST GEORGE BROCHURE

Material Provided to Mr Laws The following live read script, dated 16 September 1997 and entitled ‘St George brochure’,

was provided to Mr Laws by RAMS:

I was talking last week about St George Bank and how they’ve sent their customers a leaflet on fees, it’s entitled, … what does it say: ‘Why are fees necessary’. Should be a good read.

It says, in this little leaflet,… it says, quite rightly, that in the past the bank’s services were subsidised by the margins they made on the interest they charged for loans. Now, this is true.

The banks used to make a lot of money, very easily, on the interest they charged for home loans. It’s always been a big part of their profits. Then, when companies like RAMS Home Loans came on the scene all that changed. They were forced to compete much harder. And now we’re enjoying lower home loan interest rates across the board.

The banks had to go looking elsewhere for their profits. They’ve been looking at fees and charges. Boy, have they ever. As we all know to our cost.

The problem as I see it is that the banks seem to have convinced themselves that they have a God-given right to make massive, billion dollar profits every year. And what they’re saying through all these helpful little brochures they’re giving out to their customers,… what they’re saying is that fees are the way they’re going to keep the profits rolling in.

But who says a billion dollar profit is a fair profit? Not the customers, that’s for sure. The shareholders might think it’s wonderful. But the customers who have to pay those fees, sooner or later, they’re going to ask who sets these fees, how do the banks justify the dollar value of these fees, and is anyone keeping an eye on bank fees?

Well, the answer is ‘no’. Peter Costello, the Federal Treasurer, has washed his hands of it. No more government supervision of bank fees. Let the market keep the fees down. Well that’s a very courageous decision, Mr Costello. It’s a very brave man who expects the banks to do the right thin – to keep each other honest.1155 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws RAMS Marketing & Advertising Report - Media Advertising Activity indicates that on 16 September 1997 Mr Laws broadcast the live read script entitled ‘St George brochure’.





The Panel’s Finding The Panel accepts that the above script of 16 September 1997 is an accurate record of the broadcast in question. A Marketing and Advertising Report obtained from RAMS indicates that the broadcast entitled ‘St George brochure’ went to air on 16 September 1997. In his

statement submitted to the hearing, Greg Jones of RAMS stated 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.

For the following reasons the Panel finds that the matter broadcast is an advertisement:

♦ it is calculated or designed to promote RAMS by being mainly concerned with comparing RAMS favourably with the banks, particularly in respect of bank fees and the massive profits made by the banks; and ♦ valuable consideration was provided to Mr Laws by RAMS.

The Panel also notes that in its submission, 2UE considered this broadcast to be an advertisement.

For the following reasons the Panel finds that this advertisement has been presented as an ‘other program’, in this case a current affairs program:

♦ it has the characteristics and content of a current affairs program; and ♦ it appears to be concerned with matters relating to social, political and economic issues of relevance to the community, namely bank fees and their lack of supervision by the Government.

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

BANK FEES Material Provided to Mr Laws

The following script was provided to Mr Laws by RAMS:

How would you like to earn a billion dollars a year? How about three and a half billion? It’s a lot of money isn’t it? That’s what our big four banks have earned in fees from you…$3 and a half billion. But that’s not in one year, that’s in 6 months!

Now I’ll read to you what Mara Bun from the Australian Consumers Association thinks about this, she doesn’t like it… she says: ‘If banking is an essential service, and fees are structured to delivery higher profits, what obligation does the Federal Government have to monitor fees?’ Well I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what their attitude is, I don’t know about their obligations,… their attitude is - ‘it’s open slather,… go for it, boys!… gouge away with fees as much as you like, we won’t stop you – we won’t even monitor your fees.’ That’s what the government’s doing. Sweet…nothing…Meanwhile the banks get richer and richer…on your money.

My advice is to use the banks cleverly. Beat them at their own game. Organise your affairs so you don’t get hit with a big fee every time.

And another way to avoid fees is to talk to RAMS about a home loan. They’re not a bank.

They don’t charge you any monthly fees, which makes a big difference over the life of your home loan. Some fees and charges are payable, but you compare RAMS with anyone, they’re happy for you to do it…ring around and compare their terms with anyone. They’ve also got free insurance offers from QBE and other offers to make it easier for you.

It’s all about giving you the best imaginable home loan experience. And if that’s what you want, and you want to stop paying some of those big bank fees, the only place you’ll get it is at RAMS. 1 800 069 070. RAMS Home Loans.1156 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

On 2 July 1998 Mr Laws broadcast the following:

How would you like to earn a billion dollars a year? Yeah, you heard me, a billion dollars a year. What about three and a half billion then? A lot of money isn’t? That’s what our big four banks have earned in fees from you people. Three and a half billion dollars. But that’s not in one year, that’s just six months. True.

Now I’ll read you what Mara Bun from the Australian Consumers Association thinks about all this. She doesn’t like it, she says. I’m quoting here - because somebody sent it to me - from

The Sydney Morning Herald 1.6.98. This is what she says:

‘If banking is an essential service and fees are structured to deliver higher profits, what obligation does the Federal Government have to monitor the fees?’ Well, I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what their attitude is. I don’t know about their obligations but their attitude is it’s open slather, go for it. Gouge away with fees as much as you like, we’re not going to stop you, we won’t even monitor your fees. That’s what the government is doing. Sweet nothing.

Meanwhile the banks get richer and richer and richer on your money.

Maybe my advice is to use the banks cleverly, beat them at their own game. Organise your affairs so you don’t get hit with a big fee every time. And if you want to borrow money to build a house or buy a house go talk to RAMS, leave the bank out of the equation totally. Talk to RAMS they’re not a bank. No, they don’t charge you any monthly fees. It makes a very big difference over the life of your home loan let me tell you.

Some fees and some charges payable of course when you get the loan but you compare RAMS with anybody, they’re happy for you to do it. Ring around and compare their terms with anybody else’s, they don’t mind. But they also give you free insurance offers from QBE and other offers to make it easier for you.

You see what they intend to do and what they achieve, is to give you the best imaginable home loan experience. And if that’s what you want and you want to stop paying some of those big bank fees, then the only place that you need to go is to RAMS. It’s very simple. I’ll give you their telephone number and you give them a call. 1800 069 070. They will give you, I promise you, they will give you the best imaginable home loan experience. 1800 069 070.

2UE’s Submission to the Hearing In addition to 2UE’s general submission, 2UE make the following submission regarding this

broadcast:

Laws mentions RAMS repeatedly and their phone number at the end.

–  –  –

The Panel’s Finding The Panel does not accept 2UE’s submission that because ‘Laws mentions RAMS repeatedly and their phone number at the end’ the broadcast can be readily distinguished as an advertisement. In the opinion of the Panel the repeated mention of the name of an organisation during a broadcast does not indicate that the broadcast is an advertisement for that organisation. Similarly, in the opinion of the Panel mentioning a phone number is not enough to indicate that the broadcast is an advertisement, particularly if that mention occurs at the end of the broadcast.

For the following reasons the Panel finds that the matter broadcast is an advertisement:

♦ it is calculated or designed to promote RAMS by being mainly concerned with favourably comparing RAMS with the established banks, particularly in relation to bank fees and by making positive comments about RAMS; and ♦ valuable consideration was provided to Mr Laws by RAMS.

The Panel also notes that in its submission, 2UE considered this broadcast to be an advertisement.

For the following reasons the Panel finds that this advertisement has been presented as an ‘other program’, in this case a current affairs program:

♦ it has the characteristics and content of a current affairs program; and ♦ it appears to be concerned with matters relating to social, economic and political issues of relevance to the community, namely bank fees and the lack of government control over them The Panel finds that 2UE breached clause 3.1(a) of the Codes.

SOARING BANK FEES

Material Provided to Mr Laws The following live read script, dated 13 August 1998 and entitled ‘Com bank #1’, was

provided to Mr Laws by RAMS:

I see the Commonwealth Bank has managed to achieve another big profit, over a $1 billion.

She’ll hate them for that too, I suppose. A lot of people will hate them for it.



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