Is this a joke? Latest on the 2CH sale, Alan Jones verses ACMA and News Limited | radioinfo

Is this a joke? Latest on the 2CH sale, Alan Jones verses ACMA and News Limited

Monday 24 October, 2016
Last week Alan Jones labelled the ACMA “experts with no expertise” in comments about the forced sale of 2CH.

Now News Corp has been drawn into the debate about radio ownership laws, with a column today by Mark Day countering Jones’ remarks.

“We’re the most over regulated country in the world,” Jones told his audience. “ACMA… are the experts with no expertise.”

Jones described some of the sale process and went on to say, “Russell Tate did as he was told and found a buyer… but [was] told the buyers were unacceptable to ACMA. What kind of show are we running?”

Discussing the two station to a market rule, Jones said:

“Not only are we told that three stations in the market are somehow a dreadful thing, and that in this overregulated world you must get rid of a little outfit that plays some music… now ACMA are telling Macquarie Media that the buyer is unacceptable.”

He made a comparison with News Corp, which owns many more media outlets than Macquarie Media Ltd.

“I don’t have a problem with News Corp… but the reality is that news Corp own 23 major newspaper titles, over 40 specialist magazines and websites, 100% ownership of Fox Sports, 50% ownership of Foxtel…

“Lachlan Murdoch is Executive Co Chairman of News Corp and 20th Century Fox, lovely fella, friend of mine. He’s also Executive Co Chairman of Nova Entertainment which has a national FM network Nova and Smooth… and his company Illysia owns 9% of Network 10 TV…”

Jones did not mention that some time ago Lachlan Murdoch was required by the regulations to sell down some of his other media holdings because of similar rules about having too much control of a range of media outlets in one market.

Making the comparison between News Corp and Macquarie Media, Jones said:

“And what are they telling little Macquarie Media? You must get rid of 2CH… is this a joke or something?

“I just told you what News Corp owns, that’s OK. But poor little Macquarie Media… John Singleton, [who has] done his best to bring the kind of programs that we bring and for the other folk who like music, little orphan 2CH… suddenly that is unacceptable… and the ACMA is going to tell us to whom it can be sold.

"Is this country completely stupid and over regulated… We’re not over regulated are we?... Like hell were not. What a joke!”

Listen to Jones' full editorial here.

Taking issue with Jones’ comments in his column in News Corp’s The Australian newspaper today, Mark Day discusses a few other details that were not mentioned by Jones in his on air editorial.

Day quoted Jones’ criticisms of ACMA saying, “They might have had a point, except for one thing: They signed up to the agreement that spells out in great detail the processes now under way. They are not victims of heavy-handed regulators; they have tried to game the system and have lost.”

The ACMA has published the 29 page Enforcable Undertakings contract, which confirms Day’s analysis, showing that Russell Tate agreed to sell 2CH to a party acceptable to the ACMA within the required time frame, or else the ACMA could appoint an independent manager to process the sale.

Mark Day quoted some of Russell Tate’s comments to radioinfo that “the outcome we would have hoped for was that we didn’t have to sell the station,” then refuted Jones’ comparison with News Limited, writing:

“It’s his argument that’s a joke because, as he well knows, News is not in breach of any ownership laws while MML is.”

Day’s assessment of the sale process outlines how Russell Tate twice tried to close a deal and twice submitted a sale agreement to ACMA, saying:

“One prospective buyer was the NSW Council of Churches, which used to own the station before it sold to Singo in the 1990s and the other was Janet Cameron’s regional network, Grant Broadcasters. Both times the proposed deal was knocked back not because of the potential buyers, but because of the way the deal was structured.

“ACMA was not satisfied that control of 2CH would actually pass from MML to a new party. Under the terms of each proposed sale, 2CH would continue to broadcast from its shared studio facilities in Pyrmont and advertising would continue to be sold by MML representatives…

“MML’s major problem is that the 2CH licence has a very limited value… It generates very little advertising on its own, but acts as a convenient “bonus” for buyers of schedules on 2GB and 2UE… Taken out of the 2GB support structure, 2CH is unlikely to be viable…”

The forced sale process is now in progress.

The ACMA was contacted by radioinfo, but declined to comment for this report.

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