Denton gives John Laws enough rope, but no hanging this week

After more coverage of Alan Jones, David Flint and John Laws on Media Watch, Andrew Denton also got on to the radio band wagon and interviewed John Laws.

In Denton’s Enough Rope Laws repeated much of what he has already said on the subject in response to Denton’s questioning.

Answering a question about why he is speaking out now Laws said he has only begun speaking about his dinner party conversation with Jones since “it became obvious there was a cute relationship between Alan and the Professor.” He was offered the chance to elaborate on that statement, but did not take the opportunity go any further with the answer.

Laws said once he decided to make the story public, “there was no alternative but to involve the Prime Minister,” whom Laws believes is “doing a good job.”

Asked if he thought Alan Jones was ‘big noting himself’ by saying he had influenced the Prime Minister’s decision to reappoint David Flint, Laws said he did not think so because “it was too strong for that.”

Laws admitted there was an element of “sour grapes” in the fact he is speaking out now, but that he believes he received different treatment from Jones on his Telstra advertising deal.

“Alan and the Professor are both little men with matching ties and handkerchiefs who both like the Queen,” said Laws, who believes Flint should resign because he has “a clear conflict of interest.”

Laws told Denton he uses power differently from Alan Jones. “I’ve got influence, but I don’t use it to threaten Prime Ministers… [and] pursue political agendas like Alan does.”

He said Jones is “a whore for the Liberal Party.”

He said the ABA has “underestimated the Australian public” by assuming they cannot tell the difference between advertising and program content. “The poor little professor didn’t understand commercial radio has to have commercials,” said Laws.

In Media Watch David Marr turned the focus more onto Telstra this week, exploring the politics behind the company’s advertising deals with Alan Jones and John Laws.

Media Watch asked Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski:
‘Does Telstra consider these deals provide value for shareholder funds?’

The company’s response said: ‘The popularity and reach of these radio programs provides Telstra with a cost effective way to advertise our products and services, as well as Telstra’s community commitments.’

David Marr linked the Telstra advertising to the government saying:

We didn’t need John Laws’ dinner party anecdote to know that Telstra’s cash for comment leaves a trail all the way to Kirribilli House.

Privatising Telstra is a long-and-deeply held political ambition of John Howard’s – thwarted by a reluctant public.

That Professor David Flint’s ABA found no fundamental objection to these two radio dinosaurs being paid fortunes to push a political outcome for Telstra and for John Howard – proves that David Flint was always the man for the job…

The Media Watch program also exposed a case of cash for comment and pictures in Melissa Hoyer’s gossip column in the Sunday Telegraph, revealing several incidences of mentions and photos of ‘Autore pearls’ in her columns after she received travel sponsorship. Media Watch is yet to delve into the many incidences of advertising influencing the content of commercial tv news and current affairs programs.

David Marr signed off from the program saying “Until next week, stay brave and true.”

For more on Flint/Jones/Laws from the newspapers, click on ‘Paper Clips’ in the red left hand column.