Friday, 7 May 2010

Radio 4CA found guilty of not disclosing advertising deal with Cairns Council

Cairns AM radio 846 4CA breached radio advertising standards.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has made the ruling, following a series of interviews between John Mackenzie and Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier in March and April 2008.

The torrid tale became public after Councillor Sno Bonneau asked a question at the ordinary meeting on Wednesday 22nd April 2009, if the mayor was aware about paid commercial arrangement between her office and radio 4CA.

CairnsBlog released emails that exposed Councillor Alan Blake and the since sacked communications manager, Kerie Hull, who were both aware of a deal in early April 2009.

Although Councillor Blake has denied involvement or knowledge in the affair, his then friend in the LNP Lance Royce who writes Northern Truth, told CairnsBlog that Alan Blake approached him in the first week of April 2009 with details he knew about the deal.

The ACMA said that the radio station breached the disclosure rules and that the John Mackenzie Show failed to "present advertising material in a manner that was clearly distinguishable from other program material."

4CA breached Section 6 of Broadcasting Services (Commercial Radio Advertising) Standard 2000; Section 7 of Broadcasting Services (Commercial Radio Current Affairs Disclosure) Standard 2000; and section 8(1)(b) of Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992

"The Broadcasting Services (Commercial Radio Advertising) Standard 2000 (advertising standard) prohibits commercial radio stations from presenting an advertisement in a manner which would prevent the reasonable listener from being able to distinguish it from other program content. The advertising standard is a licence condition for all commercial radio licensees," the ACMA said.

"The ACMA’s investigation considered whether the paid appearances of the Mayor of Cairns Regional Council, Ms Val Shier, on the Ask the Mayor segment of the John Mackenzie Show, constituted an advertisement. The ACMA found that a substantial purpose of the paid appearances of the Mayor was to promote the Cairns Regional Council’s products and services," the ACMA said.

"As payment had been provided by the Council for the appearance, it ‘crossed the line’ from the promotion of its community services to rate payers, to paid advertising."

In response to the breach finding, radio 4CA, owned by Prime, has been forced implement a policy to broadcast explicit statements, such as ’this has been a paid presentation on behalf of…’ to acknowledge all paid appearances.

"As the licensee is undertaking remedial measures, the ACMA will not take any further action in relation to this investigation," the ACMA said.

Here's the full Investigation Report 2302.

The ACMA is considering the paid on-air radio appearances as part of its current review of the commercial radio standards. The Issues Paper relating to the review was released on 23 February 2010.

The drawn-out affair concluded in the shock resignation of CEO Noel Briggs, less than a year into his four-year contract, and also Ms Hull's $130,000 plush media job. It also exposed the dirty dealings of some councillors who were not wanting to work as a team, after new faces and agendas were elected in March 2008.


Smithfield Sam said...

This is at least the FOURTH breach by ol' wig boy. Why don't they ever fine his arse?

Pteropus said...

Saw same person at Bunnings other day. That red face, accentuated by the rug cause for concern. Hope he is seeing a GP for blood pressure etc. Life is not easy far an FNQ Superstar.