Thursday 18th of April 2024

we'll fight facts on the beaches...

fight on beaches

"Facts are in the way of opinions" Allan Gus Jones.


So, should Australia’s TV and Radio watchdog the ACMA be allowed to force radio shock jocks like Alan Jones to ensure their so-called ‘facts’ are right? 

Or should he be allowed to claim whatever he wants?

Last week the ACMA upheld two complaints against factual errors made by Jones in broadcasts last October. 

Here is one. 

ALAN JONES: Fifteen hundred people in the Department of Climate Change earning a minimum of 135,000 dollars a year. Two hundred and thirty federal bureaucrats earning more than the Prime Minister. Six new federal agencies supporting carbon tax legislation. One thousand and twenty seven staff on the Climate Change Authority. Green agencies around Australia recruiting new staff at the rate of a thousand a year. You want facts? I’ll give you facts!

— 2GB, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 23rd October, 2012

Unfortunately for Jones, the first fact in that list was wrong. 

The minimum wage in the Department of Climate Change appears to be nearer $40,000. 

Jones also got his facts wrong in another broadcast just days earlier naming six power stations he said were being closed by the carbon tax.

One was not being closed at all. And another was certainly not being shut down for that reason. 

As its owner Alinta Energy had already emphasised months before .

The decision is not being made because of the price on carbon. 

— Media Release, Alinta Energy, 20th April, 2012

Now you may think those are fairly trivial mistakes and not worth a year’s investigation 

But Jones and 2GB are serial offenders so there’s rather more at stake. 

In the past 3 years, the ACMA has produced 25 investigations involving 2GB’s Alan Jones, Ray Hadley or Chris Smith and from our calculations, found 18 breaches of the radio codes or standards at the station. 

That makes 2GB the worst station by far. 

And not only is Alan Jones the biggest offender, he was already on extra fact-checking duty when the latest breach took place. 

In June 2012 he had been found to be in breach of the code for claiming that humans were responsible for only .001 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which was wrong by a factor of 30,000. 

As a result the ACMA had negotiated a settlement with 2GB which involved 

New measures applying to programs hosted by Alan Jones

— Media Release, ACMA, 18th October, 2012

And specifically which promised ...

Pre-broadcast fact-checking by the program’s executive producer of any material provided by non-media sources or third parties ...

— Media Release, ACMA, 18th October, 2012

That extra fact-checking agreement was made only days before one of these latest breaches. 

And last month we caught Jones being loose with the truth again, repeating claims about the IPCC report on climate change that had already been corrected by the Australian and Daily Telegraph and highlighted by Media Watch 

So, it’s pretty clear that this policing of radio accuracy is not working. 

2GB hates it and is threatening legal action, the ACMA is frustrated, and the complaints change nothing. 

So what can be done to fix it? Or should it be scrapped? 

Well, the ACMA wants more powers. 

As it noted last week: 

The ACMA cannot ‘fine’ a broadcaster for breaching a code, or direct it to do any particular thing or take any particular action ... 

— Media Release, ACMA, 23rd October, 2013

It also said ...

... the ACMA notes that its regulatory relationship is only with the broadcasting licensee and not with any individual presenter.

— Media Release, ACMA, 23rd October, 2013

In fact short of taking away 2GB’s licence, which it would never do, the ACMA can do very little. 

It can’t discipline Jones and it can’t require correction of mistakes or acknowledgement of its findings, even though other regulators in the world possess that power.

Yet it’s not for lack of asking. 

In 2000, the Australian Broadcasting Authority called for it in its commercial radio inquiry .

The following year the Department of Communications canvassed it .

Four years later a a report for the ABA by Professor Ian Ramsay agreed it was necessary.

And in 2005 the Department of Communications said it should be considered.

Seven years after that, the Finkelstein Inquiry and the Convergence Review both argued a new media regulator should have the power. 

And just four months ago, the Joint Select Committee on Broadcasting Legislationrecommended it too. 

So why has the ACMA been denied it? 

One highly-placed source told Media Watch ...

Perhaps the politicians in Canberra don’t want to upset the shock jocks. 

— Industry insider, Statement to Media Watch, 25th October, 2013

Now, whether that’s right or not, the commercial radio stations have certainly opposed it.

They want the ACMA to have less power rather than more. 

And they don’t like the rules on Fairness and Accuracy. 

In July Commercial Radio Australia told a new ACMA inquiry that the fact-checking requirement:

... is at times too onerous, impinges on editorial freedom and is open to abuse by complainants. 

— Commercial Radio Australia, Submission to Contemporary Community Safeguards Inquiry, 29th July, 2013

Commercial Radio Australia also suggested that talkback hosts like Alan Jones and Ray Hadley should be exempt from fact checking rules...

While CRA accepts that a Code for Accuracy is appropriate for news programs, and possibly for current affairs programs, it certainly is not appropriate for general talkback programs. 

— Commercial Radio Australia, Submission to Contemporary Community Safeguards Inquiry, 29th July, 2013

Now as it happens, the commercial radio code does not require talkback hosts to get their facts right. It simply asks them to make reasonable efforts to do so. 

And if they make a mistake they can avoid breaching the code – which is written by the industry – by correcting the record within 30 days.

It’s really not so hard. 

So we asked a number of radio hosts how important they thought it was to get their facts right. 

We got no replies from Jones, Hadley or 2GB

But John Stanley of Sydney’s 2UE told us accuracy was: 

Very important. An absolute must. 

— John Stanley, Presenter, 2UE 25th October, 2013

Paul Murray of Perth’s 6PR told us 

Accuracy is important in any form of journalism.

— Paul Murray, Presenter, 6PR 25th October, 2013

And the ABC’s Jon Faine in Melbourne was just as adamant.

It’s everything. If the audience can’t rely on us, can’t trust us, why would they listen to us? 

— Jon Faine, Presenter, ABC 774, 25th October, 2013

So why might it be unreasonable for a watchdog to demand that Jones and his fellow shock jocks try to get their facts right?

The answer perhaps lies in a comment from the Institute of Public Affairs, whose legal director Simon Breheny told The Australian last week ...

ACMA's ruling against Alan Jones is unacceptable in a liberal democracy. This latest decision is a political attack by ACMA bureaucrats against conservative views on climate change

— The Australian Online, 24th October, 2013

In that same interview, the IPA’s Breheny urged Tony Abbott to get rid of the media watchdog immediately.

Shutting down ACMA would be a significant victory for freedom of speech in Australia.

— The Australian Online, 24th October, 2013

We doubt the new Government would go that far but the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull told Media Watch in a statement this afternoon ...

The Government has a general deregulation agenda, through which we intend to reduce the burden of regulation across the economy by $1 billion a year. In the radio sector, this will involve reviewing the existing regulatory framework to see which regulations are out of date, overlap or could otherwise be streamlined and made more efficient. 

— Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications, Email to Media Watch, 28th October, 2013

We think having a watchdog with powers to police fairness and accuracy is justified. 

The shock jocks get people riled. They have a big audience. And they talk about matters of public importance. Not about aliens. 

We think it’s important for democracy and public debate that they get their facts right.

But it’s also important for democracy they can then say whatever they like. 

And the commercial radio code does not shut down freedom of speech or force shock jocks to be balanced. 

It simply requires commercial radio stations to make reasonable efforts to offer a range of significant viewpoints. 

The rules covering the ABC are much, much tougher and we seem to do ok. 

Now you may argue that commercial radio should not be regulated at all because IT gets nothing from the taxpayer. 

But 2GB has a guaranteed slot on the dial and a licence worth many millions of dollars. 

And it’s perfectly reasonable to ask that it repays the community by delivering honesty, accuracy and fairness in public debate.

So we’d like to see regulation made to work. And we have two suggestions.

First that the ACMA be given more power not to investigate. 

It’s crazy to spend a year on trivial complaints. And it’s a waste of time for all concerned. 

Second, that the watchdog be given some teeth. Allow the ACMA to force broadcasters to acknowledge and correct their mistakes. 

And allow it to impose fines on serial offenders as the British regulator Ofcom is able to do. 

Finally, it would help if 2GB took its responsibilities more seriously. 

Six weeks ago Channel Nine’s A Current Affair was found to have breached the TV code with a story that a shopping mall in Sydney had been overtaken by Asians.

ACMA recommended it acknowledge that breach on air. And thanks to Channel Nine boss David Gyngell, it did. 

... we would like to acknowledge that the ACMA has determined that our segment entitled All Asian Mall was found to have breached the code of practice in three areas. 

The ACMA has made a number of findings in their report; a copy of the report can be found on the ACMA website which is shown on your screen.

A Current Affair apologises for any offence caused by this segment and Nine accepts the report’s findings. 

— Channel Nine, A Current Affair, 13th September, 2013

It wasn’t the best apology in the world because it did not go into any detail of the sins they committed.

And we’re not suggesting A Current Affair will never sin again. 

But it is a start. If broadcasters are forced to admit their mistakes on air, it will surely make them a little bit more careful about making them in the first place. 

And as always you can read more about this story on our website, including a number of other responses from broadcasters about accuracy and regulation.

But for now that’s all from us. We’ll be back next week but until then Goodbye.



It is telling that the first comment by "viewers" is about MW's "obsession with Alan Jones"... But really when Allan wield so much power on the mind on the gullible, with opinions that are fact-less, when Allan pays no regard to ACMA and most of the 2GB outfit ignore proper broadcasting standards, one has no choice but to be obsessed on some of the subjects the shock jocks tackle...   

B A Santamaria at work...

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) has dropped plans to remove the phrase "Known unto God" from the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Canberra.

Last month the memorial's governing council decided to replace two inscriptions on the tomb with words from a eulogy delivered by then prime minister Paul Keating during the re-internment of the Unknown Soldier 20 years ago.

Rudyard Kiplings's words "Known unto God", which are on the headstones of thousands of soldiers in war cemeteries worldwide, were to be replaced with "We do not know this Australian's name, we never will".

But AWM director Brendan Nelson says the decision prompted about 40 complaints from Christians, historians, politicians and other interested parties.

He says there will now be a compromise.

"Obviously sensitive to the concerns, the council's then said right well we will leave 'Known unto God' but we will replace at the other end of the tomb the words 'He symbolises all those Australians who've died in war' with 'He is one of them, and he is all of us'," he said.

There are reports the backdown was prompted by intervention by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Veteran's Affairs Michael Ronaldson.


May the god of the Liberals (CONservatives) burn their arse...

when the private dinners are paid by the public purse...

When Fairfax journalist Peter Munro was digging around on the story about the dinner, the privacy of the whole affair was paramount. Abbott's office said: ''We do not release details of the Prime Minister's private functions.''

There was also a series of follow-up questions about who was paying for the feast and drinkies. Those inquiries were met with steadfast silence, so it is fairly safe to assume that this private function was paid for by the public.

Akerman also held the line, telling Munro: ''I don't talk about my private life. I'm a working journalist. I don't talk about my relations with other people.''Of course, senior politicians have little pocket-moistening sessions with compliant stooges in the media, lunches, drinks, dinners, following by tips and leaks for dessert.

In the good old days when Robert Menzies ran the country, there was a fairly compliant press gallery. Ming would occasionally pat them on the head and let them have a whiskey in his office.

Prime ministerial briefings of editors are a regular feature of the landscape. But last Saturday in Kirribilli was different. The fact that the guests were right-wing advocates and overwhelmingly came from News Corp reinforced the uniqueness of the occasion.

In the main this was a clutch of the freshly minted PM's favourite Murdoch claqueurs being thanked for their reliable coverage of the Coalition and their relentlessly toxic demolition of the Labor government. You might argue that they were, in the main, columnists and opinionists and so entitled to act as boosters for whomever they liked. That is only part of the story.

On occasions, columnists break out of the caged perimeters of the opinion pages and spruik something in the news pages. In any event, their lord and master Rupert Murdoch sees no difference - as he once famously put it, ''opinion is news''.

There was a time when journalists, whether they called themselves reporters or columnists, saw it as their duty to be agin whoever was in power. Holding the government to account, and all that. To be outside looking in was a journalistic virtue. It meant the fourth estate was not acting as an outrigger for favoured political aspirants or causes.

Read more:

Chatted with the News Corp Spice Girls, Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda Devine, Janet looking especially slinky in a black ensemble reminiscent of Jane Fonda in that 1968 hit movie, Barbarella. Gerard Henderson displayed some treasures from his collection of B.A. Santamaria memorabilia, including one of the great man's toenail clippings exquisitely set in a sterling silver reliquary. These were much admired by Greg Sheridan, who in turn regaled us with fascinating tales of hobnobbing with world leaders, among them the very lovely Imelda Marcos and his good chums Dick Cheney and Donald "Rummy" Rumsfeld, the victors of the Iraq war.

And so to dinner: Grace first from that prince of churchmen, George Pell, then a simple but elegant meal amusingly listed on the menu as Chicken Liver Pate Julia, followed by Roast Rack of Rudd with Green Salad.

"Green!" snapped Dennis Shanahan, ever the quick wit. "We'll have no Greens here!" How we chuckled.

There was one uncomfortable moment when the butler announced during sweets that Rupert Murdoch was on the telephone. Folk lunged for the exits until we spied Tony splitting his sides with that famous ha-ha-ha laugh. It was a practical joke! Only later did we find that poor Piers Akerman had dived beneath the table; inextricably stuck, he had to be left there to snore the night away.

Merry toasts were drunk: Death to the ABC; Down with David Marr; Climate Change Be Damned, and so on. The jollity continued as Alan Jones, Professor David Flint and Christopher Pyne engaged in a spirited bidding war in the charity auction for a pair of Tony's red Speedos. Alan emerged the gracious winner and, ever the entertainer, led the company in a rousing rendition of Tomorrow Belongs to Me, that wonderfully evocative anthem from the movie Cabaret.

Read more:

once again the ABC "fact checker" is cutting thin slices...

Opposition Senate Leader Penny Wong says the Coalition went to the last election "beating their chest" about debt and deficit.

"Well, since that time they've tripled the deficit, tripled it in two years, debt is far higher, about $100 billion higher, than it was when we left office and continuing to rise," she said in an interview on SkyNews on May 10.

Has the Government tripled the deficit and is debt $100 billion higher than when Labor was in office? ABC Fact Check takes a look.

The verdict

Senator Wong's claim is exaggerated.

On debt, Senator Wong is correct to state that net debt has increased by $100 billion since Labor left office.

But the deficit over that time has doubled, not tripled.

More importantly, experts take issue with whether Senator Wong is entitled to say "they" increased the deficit and hence the debt.

The increases are affected by issues outside the Government's control, such as falling global commodity prices and slow growth in wages and company profits, and the deficit would be smaller if Labor had supported Government measures in the Senate, the experts say.

Assessing the claim

A spokesman for Senator Wong told Fact Check her claim was based on comparing the deficit forecast for 2016-17 contained in the May 2014 budget with the forecast for 2016-17 in the recent May 2016 budget.

It shows the deficit forecast tripled over that two year period.



In fact, the claim by Penny Wong is correct. The liberals have MORE than tripled the debt. Treasury calculated Labor left government with a debt between 30 and 38 billions, The Daily telegraph placed this figure at 48 billion because the Daily Telegraph lies. The fancy fact checker at the ABC should know that the deficit is now over 100 billion under the careful watch of the rabid CONservatives and with all their fancy toys on their shopping list, this deficit will blow up to four times... But fear not, there is no "budget EMERGENCY NOW" because the libs are running the show, AS BADLY AS THEY CAN.