Once again Michael Smith was a no show on his afternoon shift yesterday (Monday). By 6pm he had still not signed an agreement with his employer that would end his suspension. 2UE management were tight lipped over the affair refusing to confirm or deny a report in The Australian that read, “Smith signed the undertaking not to discuss the Kernohan matter on air but has baulked at another clause limiting Fairfax’s liability, according to sources.”
Now Smith has upped the ante by retaining high profile solicitor John Laxon, considered an expert in media employment contracts.
With the stand-off, the release of Nielsen Survey Six today (Tuesday), could bring a bitter-sweet result for 2UE. If Smith’s noon – 3pm shift goes up it will be good news for the station, struggling to gain traction for its new on-air line-up put in place at the beginning of the year. But it will provide the presenter more bargaining power to resolve the conflict in his favour.
Having been recruited from Fairfax Radio’s Brisbane branch, 4BC, Smith has impressed conservatives with his off-beat humour and tenacious pursuit of government waste and impropriety. It was he who was able to get Labor MP Craig Thomson to admit during an interview that he signed off on Health Services Union credit card bills that are alleged to have been used by someone for private expenses.
If Smith’s shift goes down, UE will have the upper hand in negotiations. But it could turn out be a ‘Pyrrhic victory’. UE will have to weigh up whether they could do as well with less difficult talent.
Nielsen Survey Six results will be posted on radioinfo as soon as they are reased at around 9:30 am tomorrow (Tuesday)