Jacintha Saldanha and the role of media standards in triggering her death. Part 2 of a 3 part submission: In Harm’s Way.)

WHEN Jacintha Saldanha answered the phone call from 2Day FM, that simple everyday action placed in her in harm’s way. For all intents and purposes, she might just as well have stood in the path of a runaway freight train for, metaphorically speaking, that is precisely what she did!

WHY was such a simple action to prove to be so dangerous, and WHO are the people who collectively share the overall responsibility for that phone call being so dangerous?

These are just 2 of the many interacting, underlying  issues that the City of London Coroner, Paul Matthews, must now resolve. They are also issues that the family of Jacintha Saldanha must take on board if they are considering legal action against 2DayFM and others who may be jointly and severally responsible for causing her death. The reality is that in a corporate environment, decisions are NOT made in a vacuum.

There are a host of factors, large and small, that underpin any corporate management decision. If a true picture of what happened to Jacintha Saldanha is to be ‘drawn’ by the coroner, then the micro and macro factors that make up the global environment that influenced the fateful 2Day FM management decision are to be seen and understood, then these issues must be first identified and then impartially scrutinized. To do less than this is to dishonour Jacintha and to cheapen and demean what happened to her.

To fully understand the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHO, HOW, and most importantly, the WHY of that fateful decision is to comprehend the ‘big picture’. That knowledge is the key to knowing how to prevent similar tragedies and, at the very least, achieving that is what we owe to Jacintha Saldanha and her family.

Her children need to know that something really good can come from this tragic death. This in not wishful thinking on my part; the reality of that thought is contained in the “Centrelink does not collect post breaching statistics…” letter and if the full circumstances behind that statement are fully comprehended, many more lives may still be saved and that is indeed a most worthy goal.

There is no pun intended when I say that Austereo management have a poor track record for showing any appreciation of the sensitivity of some of the material broadcast by their network. 2Day FM was ‘pinged’ by the ACMA for broadcasting a recorded interview in which a 14-year-old child, i.e. a minor, was interviewed about her sex life! That may have made for great ratings as every depraved sicko and paedophile in Sydney tuned in to listen to that broadcast, but it clearly demonstrated a total lack of regard for the welfare of the child being interviewed. When it came to the issue of “Care for Kids”, i.e. the Duty of Care that every adult in society owes to every child, that obligation simply was not on the Austereo management’s radar. Rating yes, but the welfare of the child? DEFINITELY NO!

The sole issue probably considered with any gravity was “Market Forces”, i.e. the cut-throat competition for radio rating which translate into audience numbers and advertising dollars and broadcasting the “tell-all” recording of the sex life of a 14-year-old CHILD would boost those ratings. In this shoddy Ratings driven incident, money was more important that protecting a 14-year-old child. That is the corporate quality of the organization that Jacintha Saldanha was dealing with when she answered the phone.

 THE ACMA and the KYLE SANDILANDS  “Fat slag…” INCIDENT:

 It is also a most gravely disturbing matter of record that 2Day FM was “whipped with a feather” for the disgraceful Kyle Sandilands incident. A reasonable, perhaps even crucial, question that needs to be seriously considered by Paul Matthews is the role played by the ACMA’s manifestly inadequate penalty for this broadcasting incident. Was it one of the critical events in an incredibly long, disastrous chain of event that ultimately led to the tragic decision by Jacintha Saldanha to take her own life? If it was, then why was the ACMA’s penalty so manifestly inappropriate and disproportionate to the offense and what role did this pathetic penalty play in influencing the 2Day FM management’s decision making process that ultimately resulted in Jacintha Saldanha’s death?

 The following extract from the web page mentioned below provides a brief summary of this disgraceful incident and the abject failure of the ACMA to apply an appropriate penalty may have actively encouraged the management to act so recklessly and unlawfully by secretly recording and then broadcasting the phone call that so embarrassed Jacintha Saldanha.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 “KYLE SANDILANDS is back on air this morning as his employer, Southern Cross Austereo, fights new licence conditions aimed at curbing its controversial star. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has ordered Sandilands not to say anything that could be regarded as offensive or demeaning to women or girls.  The conditions follow the authority’s ruling that Sandilands had breached radio standards last year when he called a female journalist who had reviewed his TV show unfavourably a ”fat slag” and a ”piece of shit”.

 Austereo says the proposed conditions are ”unworkable’‘ and it will do everything it can to stop the new checks and balances. The chief executive, Rhys Holleran, said the conditions were hard to comply with because the terms ”decency” and ”demeaning” were ”pretty broad” and ”ambiguous”. (NOTE: This is a university educated corporate CEO of a major mass media organization speaking! – Ron Medlicott)

 Katrina Rathie, a lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons, said: ”It shows a loophole. Kyle dodges a bullet and gets off scot-free and 2DayFM gets a lashing with a feather. [The authority’s] enforcement powers are virtually zero. It has no power to discipline presenters and I think the court of public opinion would want that.” (I THINK JACINTHA’s FAMILY WOULD TOO! – Ron Medlicott)

 ( Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/sandilands-banned-from-certain-words–but-who-knows-which-ones-20120327-1vwnx.html )

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What Kyle Sandilands said on air was both totally inexcusable and totally unacceptable but what was even more unacceptable was the response of Austereo which clearly demonstrated that the station’s management was totally unrepentant and simply viewed the “whipped with a feather” administrative limitations imposed upon the 2Day FM broadcast license as “unworkable.”

 “UNWORKABLE!”: Just how repentant is the Austereo management when they declared that they would “…do everything it can to stop the new checks and balances”?

 As weak and ineffective as the “whipped with a feather” penalties were, 2Day FM’s management intended to fight them. It is my contention that this attitude is empirical evidence that Australia’s mass media believes that, in the name of “Freedom of the press”, that the industry is, or should be, totally beyond any form of accountability.

 Perhaps the belief within the management of the Austereo organization was that as the license holder of the 2Day FM broadcast license, Austereo, because of “Freedom of the press”, was completely above and beyond accountability. The “whipped with a feather” penalty and the station management’s response strongly suggests that this was the case. Perhaps influenced by numerous other ACMA decisions such as the Sandilands Decision and ACMA Reports 2729  and 2780, the decision to ignore Australian laws that prohibit the secret recordings of conversations was essentially a ‘no-brainer’, i.e. we have the technology to secretly record the conversation with Jacintha Saldanha, and having done so, we have the technology to broadcast to the world and, because the ACMA lets us get away with just about anything, we will do so!

The appalling low percentage of complaints to the ACMA that are upheld in favour of the plaintiff, about 5%, may also have strongly underpinned this belief.

 Is that arrogant defiance of Australian statute laws and the innate belief that the mass media, in the sacred name of ‘Freedom of the Press’, Australia’s mass media can do anything and should not be held accountable, one of the factors in a very long chain of events that culminated in Jacintha’s tragic death?

Ultimately, was it shear arrogance and gross hubris on the part of 2Day FM’s decision makers that killed Jacintha?

  1.  If you accept that the attitude of Austereo management and the abject failure of the Australian media regulator, the ACMA, to apply an appropriately strong penalty in the Sandilands incident were contributing factors, then you face a whole serious of inter-related issued that must be examined.
  2. How wide-spread is the attitude that the mass media is beyond accountability?
  3. Why are the penalties handed down by the ACMA so disproportionately inappropriate to the magnitude of the offense?
  4. Are the penalties applies inappropriate because of gross inadequacies in Australia’s mass media laws?
  5. Are existing penalties adequate but the current co-regulation environment mean that ACMA regulators have either become too complacent, or worse, have a “Stockholm Syndrome” relationship with the nation’s mass media?
  6. Is it a case of the co-regulation environment resulting in a Consanguinity situation, i.e. the ACMA regulators and the mass media work together on a daily basis and are on a first name basis that has resulted in an interaction situation where the ACMA regulators are simply unable to respond in an impartial manner and impose punitive penalties that would serious hurt offending broadcasters?
  7. The principle of “Stand by your mate” IS a very powerful national ethic in Australia and sinking the boot into your mate is considered to be an exceptionally vile act of gutless betrayal.

CONSIDER THIS HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO:

In it’s response to the Sandilands incident, the ACMA says, “2Day FM is a two-time violator; do it again the station will lose it’s broadcast licence.” Would 2Day FM have even made the secret recording, let alone broadcast it?

  1. I am sure that reasonable people will agree that if a “3 strikes and you’re out” rule had been in play, then Jacintha Saldanha would still be alive. With the benefit of hindsight, it is manifestly obvious that the “whipped with a feather” penalty for the Sandilands incident did absolutely nothing to discourage 2Day FM management from engaging in unlawful activity.
  2. In order to understand WHY 2Day FM had such contempt for the ACMA that it would violate federal laws, it is absolutely essential that the inquest look at ACMA decisions that have helped to foster the reckless “Cowboy country – anything goes” attitude that is so pervasive in Australia’s media that it is Standard Operating Procedure with some of the decision makers in Australia’s mass media industry to ignore the law in the pursuit of commercial advantage .

 ACMA REPORT 2729  (Who watches the Watchers?)

http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.acma.gov.au%2Fwebwr%2F_assets%2Fmain%2Flib410172%2Fsas-report_2729.doc&ei=a0PJUOsGsK2JB_XpgZAL&usg=AFQjCNFNfpCuDFOMdi2X7wBTASzW5JjLWg&bvm=bv.1355272958,d.aGc

In Part 1 of this blog I presented extracts from ACMA Report 2729 that highlight the bizarre fact whilst Australia’s anti-discrimination laws prohibit activities that vilifies, intentionally humiliates, or demeans individuals or groups on the basis of sex, religion, race, etc. These laws focus upon the impact of inappropriate behaviour upon the targeted, or unintended, victim(s).

 However, the Australian commercial broadcasting industry and the mass media print industry work to so-called “Self-Regulation” standards that totally disregard the core principle of “ZERO TOLERANCE” and instead use threshold levels of “EXTREME”, “SEVERE” or “SERIOUS”.

In considering the decision-making process of the 2Day FM management and their reason for deciding to broadcast the illegally recorded segment, it is imperative to realize that this threshold does NOT APPLY TO THE IMPACT UPON THE VICTIM, i.e. Jacintha Saldanha was about to humiliated in front of the entire world but the impact upon her did not count as far as the ACMA’s codes of conduct were concerned!

 As the comments on ACMA Report 2729 make quite clear, the Threshold Assessment Level for determining what is inappropriate broadcasting is “EXTREME” levels that impact the AUDIENCE, not the victim.

 In this perverted broadcasting compliance code of practice environment, the impact upon Jacintha Saldanha simply was not an issue that Austereo management really needed to give any significant consideration to.

 Indeed, Austereo management would have been well aware of ACMA Report 2729 for it involved SAS 7, one of the 7 Network television stations. While the merger of Southern Cross Media and Austereo does not create a network as large as the 7 network, it did create a nationwide network that holds 17 commercial broadcasting licenses. As the holder of these licenses, DUE DILIGENCE OBLIGATIONS would have required that Austereo management be well aware of any ACMA decisions that affected commercial television broadcasters.

 In considering the circumstances that led to the death of Jacintha Saldanha, her family and friends, and the City of London Coroner, Paul Matthews, all need to give very, very serious consideration to the official endorsement of SAS 7’s actions by the ACMA.

 By officially rubber-stamping SAS 7’s deliberate vilification of welfare recipients in a manner that showed total contempt and disregard for the impact of SAS 7’s actions upon welfare recipients,  the ACMA was actively fostering a broadcasting ethos in which the impact upon a targeted person was LITERALLY THE VERY LAST AND MOST MINOR OF CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE HOLDERS OF BROADCAST LICENSES, e.g. Southern Cross Media and Austereo!

 Although is it was not reasonably possible to foresee that such an insensitive attitude towards the impact of the prank upon Jacintha Saldanha would result in her death, report 2729 was the Siamese Twin to Report 2780, a report that specifically alleged that SAS 7 had engaged in activity that may have resulted in a significant death toll!

 REPORT 2780

http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.acma.gov.au%2Fwebwr%2F_assets%2Fmain%2Flib410172%2Fsas-report_2780.doc&ei=v0PJUOjUFeiZiAfHuYEo&usg=AFQjCNE7HruskkTusq2esgAMxAKlZJTgjA&bvm=bv.1355272958,d.aGc

Again, in considering the circumstances that led to the death of Jacintha Saldanha, her family and friends, and the City of London Coroner, Paul Matthews, all need to give very, very serious consideration to the official endorsement of SAS 7’s actions by the ACMA as expressed in ACMA Report 2780.  This report needs to impartially scrutinized by Paul Matthews (or the coroner that he appoints to conducted the inquest) and evaluated to determine its role in influencing Austero management to disregard the potential impact of broadcasting the secretly recorded phone call.

 THE EACKOT DECISION.

Details of this decision can be found at http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/28/bolt-decision-guilty-of-discrimination-judge-declares/ and again, this is yet another decision that needs to be closely vetted by the officials conducting the inquest for a number of reasons including the fact that the impact of SAS 7’s deliberate vilification of welfare recipients was likely to have had similar impacts on some welfare recipients that was directly comparable to the impacts specifically mentioned by Justice Bromberg when he handed down his decision in this racial vilification class action.

 In the Eackot case, actions by a member of the mass media, Andrew Bolt, and his employer contained “errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language.” that “offended, insulted, or intimidated” and were unacceptable to the court, a case-law principle that was directly relevant to the complaints presented to the ACMA re SAS 7’s deliberate vilification of welfare recipients and therefore should have applied to the evaluation of the complaints that led to the ACMA Report 2780 findings.

 This was the ACMA’s response to points raised by me about the relevance of the Eackot case-law decision:

You have referred to Justice Mordy Bromberg’s decision in the Eatock class action (pages 1-2). This decision has no bearing on the matter of. Key differences include:

The Eatock action was not about vilification on the grounds of socio-economic status, it was about vilification on the grounds of race; and the Eatock action was not about the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010, it was about the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.(Source: ACMA letter dated 1 November 2011. ACMA Complaint ACMA 2011/9-15 C21620)

  1.  Perhaps because of the ‘Poverty Gap”, the ACMA “investigators” totally lacked the empathy and Socio-Economic Awareness and Sensitivity needed to make the obvious connection that what SAS 7 was doing was IDENTICAL in principle to what Justice Bromberg had determined Andrew Bolt had wrongfully been doing.
  2. The only difference was that Andrew Bolt had a racial focus whilst SAS 7’s deliberate vilification was targeting vulnerable welfare recipients who lacked the financial resources needed to fight back challenge SAS 7’s action in the Federal Court.
  3. When handing down his findings Justice Bromberg commented about; “ errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language.”
  4. He also commented upon the emotional and psychological impact of Andrew Bolt’s writing; “… offended, insulted, or intimidated ”
  5. He then noted a point that Ms Zurnamer (the manager of the ACMA’s broadcasting investigations section) did agree on; Andrew Bolt case was about “… a breach of racial vilification laws.”
  6. What Ms Zurnamer seemed to totally incapable of doing was applying the case-law findings in the Eackot Decision and applying these findings to the SAS 7 “Socio-Economic Vilification complaint.
  7. Such inflexibility in a investigator of a national regulator is most disturbing. Was she incapable of seeing the parallels between the two cases or did she deliberately chose not to see?
  8. Either way, as a direct consequence of this decision, Australia’s mass media was once again given a free hand to trample and trash the emotions and feelings of anyone that they chose to target, i.e. Jacintha Saldanha!

 I still believe that Justice Bromberg’s comments in points 1 & 2 above are relevant to my complaint for they addressed specific issues listed in 1.9.6 of the code of practice, i.e.

  1.  Provoke or perpetuate intense dislike;
  2. Serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person, or
  3. A group of persons on the grounds of disability.

 Even though no specific statute uses the phrase Socio-Economic Vilification, Justice Bromberg’s findings in the Eackot Decision established federal case-law findings that provided the ACMA with a relevant case-law principle that the ACMA should not have rejected in such a cavalier and off-hand manner, especially since Clause 1.9.6 of the code of practice does specify similar issues that do apply to welfare recipients such as disability pensions.

  1.  I am a disability pensioner, a fact that the ACMA was totally unaware of because their “investigation” carefully avoided the inconvenience of interviewing the plaintiff, witnesses, victims etc.
  2. Had this been done, the ACMA investigators would not have been able to make the false claim that there was “no evidence” to support the allegation.
  3. By falsely claiming to have conducted an investigation and then producing a report that exonerated SAS 7, the ACMA sent a very clear message to the Australian broadcasting industry, especially the holders of television licenses that they could, quite literally, get away with mass murder.

 In that sort of “anything goes- cowboy country, Rafferty’s Rules” regulatory environment where statute law, case law and even the relevant broadcasting code of practice’s ‘guidelines’ were ignored by both SAS 7 and the ACMA, the rationale for the Austereo management’s decision to broadcast the unlawfully recorded interview is perhaps more easily understood.

 The response of Andrew Bolt and his employer, a News Ltd newspaper, was anything but contrite. Totally in tune with the Austero response, Andrew Bolt and News Ltd newspapers across the country attacked the Eackot Decision as, you guessed it, and attack upon Freedom of Speech!”

UNREPENTANT after being found guilty by a Federal Court of deliberately engaging in racial vilification.

UNREPENTANT after being found guilty by a Federal Court of deliberately engaging in racial vilification.

  1. However, after a very careful and impartial examination of the facts a Federal Court judge, Justice Mordy Bromberg, had ruled that Andrew Bolt and the Herald and Weekly News idea of ‘free speech’ was a clear violation of Article 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
  2. Justice Bromberg said he was satisfied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people were reasonably likely to have been “offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed” in articles written by Mr Bolt and published in News Ltd newspapers.
  3. “…Mr Bolt both understood and intended the imputations of that kind were conveyed by the newspaper articles that he wrote.”
  4. In effect, after a careful and impartial examination of the both the facts of the matter and an objective and impartial evaluation of statements by Andrew Bolt and the 9 people who filed the Racial Vilification class action, Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg came to the conclusion that had deliberately set out to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate by the imputation.”
  5. In handing the findings in ACMA Report 2729, the ACMA bureaucracy chose to TOTALLY IGNORE Justice Bromberg’s findings because the impact of SAS 7’s actions were not deemed EXTREME enough and besides, it was the audience impact, not impact upon the victims, that counted!
  6.  What sort of message did that send to the broadcast media in general and to Austereo management in particular?
  7. By ignoring Justice Bromberg’s findings in the Eackot Decision, the ACMA literally gave Austereo the regulatory background basis upon which, at least in part, to base their decision.
  8. To humiliate Jacintha Saldanha, or not to humiliate? That was the crucial question and ACMA Report 2729 left not one tiny iota of doubt that humiliating Jacintha Saldanha was acceptable to the ACMA and therefore it was equally acceptable to 2Day FM’s management.

 NO CONTRITION:

As with the Austereo response to the Sandilands Decision, there is no contrition from Andrew Bolt and his News Ltd bosses; just outrage by News Ltd newspapers that a Federal Court judge would dare to challenge the right of one of their own, a News Ltd columnist with a national audience, to deliberately violate the Racial Discrimination Act. The above news article makes it quite clear that News Ltd, a major player in the Australian mass media industry, believes that it is totally inappropriate to hold media individuals or media organizations accountable for their inappropriate and unlawful conduct. Note the reference to the “Only one land of the free” news article on page 25 of the same news paper.

 This News Ltd example, directly linked to above “Terrible day for free speech” article also emphatically demonstrates that in Australia the mass media firmly believes itself to be above such trifling minor points such as the Australian Constitution which clearly states in paragraph 5:

“This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth…”

 No-where, I repeat, no-where, in the Australian Constitution is there any right for the mass media to use “free speech” as an excuse to violate the nation’s laws. So check this out: 29-09-11Only one land of the free

The visual imagery in this picture creates the impression that freedom of speech and the free expression of ideas in Australia is under attack. However, the “free speech” that News Ltd is writing about here is the ‘right’ to use a major national newspaper chain to  ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate by the imputation.”

Only one land of the free text

  1. In this article by another News Ltd columnist, Paul Toohey, the Australian Government is criticized and vilified as being “stupid” for daring to hold an inquiry into the mass media.
  2. Consider the following statement, “…the American media finds it oxymoronic and offensive that a member of government would seek to impose regulations to, as Senator Conroy says, “support the continuation of a healthy and independent media.”
  3. Senator Conroy is deliberately vilified and impugned as “stupid”, “oxymoronic” and “offensive” for doing what government ministers in democracies around the world are supposed to do, i.e. regulate industries to prevent excesses and abuses, and to ensure that the industry operates for the benefit of the nation and not just vested interest stakeholders.
  4. It should be noted that all parties named in this article, other than Senator Conroy, are vested interest parties from the mass media.
  5. This news article used with the support of vested interest mass media allies/associated organizations in the United States, in a blatant attempt to convince Australian readers that a democratically elected government was deliberately attacking the media when in the truth is that one of the nation’s largest and most powerful mass media organizations was attacking the government which was just doing its job of ensuring that appropriate regulations and controls are in place to ensure ”the continuation of a healthy and independent media.”

 

MASS MEDIA WARS: THE RETURN OF THE EVIL EMPIRE.

The failure of the British Parliamentary Inquiry into the News of the World scandal may have also been yet another one of the seemingly unrelated yet crucial events in a long train events all contributed to the tragic moment when Jacintha Saldanha took her own life.

  1. By pulling its punches, the committee may have unwittingly laid the groundwork for this speech. As the CEO of News Ltd Australia, Kym Williams is, in Star Wars parlance, a field marshal in the Evil Empire.
  2. Alternately, because of the size, marketing power and influence that News Ltd has in Australia’s not so big mass media marketing ‘big pond’, Kym Williams is, metaphorically speaking, a White Pointer shark swimming amongst lesser commercial mass media competitors that can be likened to such predators of Barracuda and Piranha.
  3. Kym Williams used his speech at the Melbourne Press Club to sell the message to the ‘Barracudas’ and ‘Piranhas’ that whilst the News of the World may be gone, the competitive marketing ethos of that organization, as of the 28th November 2012, was alive and well and up and running in Australia.
  4. It is a matter of record that just 6 days after this speech, one of the ‘Piranhas’, 2Day FM tried to trump the regulators with its illegal recording of the Saldanha phone call and just 3 days after that, Jacintha Saldanha was dead.
  5. Her death was a direct downstream consequence of one of Kym William’s competitors foolishly following his advice and trying to “trump the regulators” in a reckless, utterly stupid attempt to gain a higher commercial radio station rating.

 Paul Matthews, you would be failing Jacintha Saldanha in a most appalling way if you did not put this speech under an ‘electron microscope’ and carefully determined the role that this seemingly ‘unrelated event’ actually played in triggering her death!  

 (Ditto to Senator Conroy and the Gillard Government in Australia which, because of the role played by the ACMA in this tragic fiasco, needs to set up an Independent Commission of Inquiry into Ms Saldanha’s death. It is totally inappropriate that the ACMA should investigate its own culpability in this tragic train of events!)

 (My apologies for the poor quality of this JPEG image; I am unable to improve upon it at this time for some unknown technical reason.)29 Nov 2012 Tiser page 17

Published in News Ltd newspapers on 29th November, just 8 days before Jacintha Saldanha’s death, News Ltd were again pushing the line that regulation is a deliberate attack upon the “Freedom of the press.”

  1.  In this, (hard to read) News Ltd published article, reporter Mark Milne wrote about a speech by his boss, News Ltd CEO, Kym   which was made at the Melbourne Press Club on 28th November 2012. (How’s that for impartiality of  news media?)
  2. In his speech Mr Williams attacked the public media convergence review and the Finkelstein review as posing a serious threat to the freedom of the press.
  3. Journalists could be jailed for unlawful conduct!
  4. Perhaps if that had been in place at the beginning of this month, Austereo management would not have had such a shoddy, cavalier attitude towards the secret recording and broadcasting of telephone conversations?
  5. These public reviews would undermine the market forces that shaped the industry.
  6. This was a clear indication that “market forces”. i.e. the interests of the mass media industry, were of more importance than the views of the public that the mass media supposedly represents. 
  7. The statement is in fact a clear declaration that financial considerations of the press organizations; not the public’s right to know, was Mr Williams key concern.
  8. “Regulation on the media industry would stymie the press’s ability to hold politicians accountable.”  
  9. What Mr Williams really meant was the politicians that he did not like could be held accountable for News Ltd had a field day in February 2010 publishing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s remark that if Peter Garrett had been running a business in New South Wales, he would have been charged with manslaughter for having failed to report the deaths of 4 unqualified ceiling insulation installers who died whilst installing insulation as part of a government-funded program to insulation homes.
  10. What ALL News Ltd newspapers omitted to mention was the 2004 refusal of the Australian Federal Police, for reasons of (political) “gravity/sensitivity” to investigate Tony Abbott over allegations that whilst he was the Employment Minister, he illegally applied breaching quotas that deliberately deprived welfare recipients of welfare entitlements and never reported the fatalities caused by that activity to parliament.
  11. In short, Mr Williams was arguing for the right to be extremely partisan in holding politicians accountable, an action inconsistent with freedom of speech and a truly free and impartial press.

 “Mr Williams said that the market must trump the regulators and not be inhibited by a free press.”

 Just a week after making that statement in the Melbourne Press Club, Austereo management, following the steps of News Corp, UK’s ‘News of the World,’ DRIVEN BY MARKET FORCES, i.e. the stong competition for Radio Ratings, deliberately ignored Australian laws that prohibit the secret recording of telephone conversations and not only recorded the telephone conversation with Jacintha Saldanha, but also broadcast it to a city of over 4 million people!

  1.  INCITEMENT TO COMMIT A FELONY?: “The market must trump the regulators…” is a statement that clearly implies that Mr Williams believes that the commercial free market interests of the Australian mass media industry are far more important than Rule of Law in a democratic society.
  2. Clearly, the corporate ethics that underpinned the ongoing News of the World scandal is thriving in Australia.
  3. It is therefore imperative to ask if Austereo management were aware of Kym Williams’s speech, and if so, what (if any) role did this speech play in their decision to violate the law, i.e. trump the regulators?” 
  4. How many people in Australia’s mass media industry share this viewpoint that it is okay to put “market forces” ahead of Rule of Law.
  5. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the decision makers in Australia’s mass media firmly believe that their views and interests take precedence over the laws of a democratically elected government!
  6. Apart from the issue of Treason, the role that this uncaring and dispassionate attitude plays in driving up Australia’s suicide rate is an issue that is of grave concern and which I will pursue in Part 3 of this Internet communication with the City of London Coroner.

 It is vital to the Saldanha Inquest that Paul Matthews fully understands that Australia has a mass media industry that only has self-interest at heart and that its ‘self-regulation’ codes of conduct has resulted in a mass media industry that puts its own biased interests ahead of public interest, national interest, and national laws, but does so, not for “freedom of speech” but cynically, to protect “market forces”, i.e. to protect corporate profits!

Just as the Taliban’s extremist Islamic viewpoints pose a danger to the entire world, the extremist views and actions of Australia’s  mass media pose a danger not only to the population in Australia, but as the death of Jacintha Saldanha has so graphically revealed, now pose a real danger to the more sensitive members of the global population.

 The inquest also needs to factor in the failure of the British parliamentary inquiry into the News of the World scandal to do its job properly.

  1. The committee described Rupert Murdock as “not a fit person” to be running a business in Britain.
  2. In making this statement, the committee pulled its punches and put politics ahead of justice.
  3. Had the committee stated that Rupert Murdock was “not a fit and proper person” to be running a business in Britain, the British mass media regulator would have had to set in train court action that would have forced Rupert Murdock to divest himself of his British holdings.
  4. Instead, the committee told the whole world, including the people who manage Australia’s mass media, that when push comes to shove in a clash with the media, the politicians, and therefore the regulators, will back down.
  5. That was not only a foolish message to send, it has, as events have transpired, become one of many seemingly unrelated events in Great Britain and Australia that have coalesced and morphed into a lethal message, i.e. the mass media IS beyond reasonable standards of accountability!

 If Jacintha Saldanha’s family take legal action, the committee members should be put on the stand to explain precisely why they pulled their punches when handing down their findings.

 Today, we truly live in a global village and minor ‘pranks’ in one country can kill someone in another as Jacintha Saldanha’s death has so tragically shown the entire world.

  1. The “WHO”, ‘WHEN’ and ‘HOW’ of her death are important, but the hundreds of microscopic “WHY’s” are far more important. Because of the international political “gravity/sensitivity” of this issue, and because, globally, the wealth and power of the mass media could be used to downplay Jacintha Saldanha’s death, it is absolutely vital that the entire “train of events”, both large and small, in both Britain and Australia be carefully scrutinized by those responsible for the inquest.

 The lesson of the Nazi Holocaust in Germany is that the mass media demonstrated the power to shape the minds of an entire population of ‘ordinary, reasonable people’ in ways that ultimately prove lethal for 10 MILLION innocent people.

  1. In both Great Britain and Australia, seemingly unrelated and unconnected events and decisions have coalesced in a way that specifically, was not possible to foresee, but which with hindsight was fatally inevitable.
  2. Vested interest organizations such as News Ltd and other mass media organizations must not be allowed to undermine democratically elected governments nor be allowed to set in place self-imposed codes of practice that protect self-interest whilst leaving individuals or social groups vulnerable to actions that, as justice Mordy Bromberg so aptly pointed out, contain include deliberate “ errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language” that offend,, humiliate, insult, or intimidate. ”

 Does anyone doubt that Jacintha Saldanha was also “offended”, “insulted”, and “humiliated” by the illegal 2Day FM ‘prank’?

 If the inquest impartially takes on board the issues raised in this blog, then Jacintha Saldanha’s death will become a torch that shines a light in a very, very dark place. The following statement made by a senior official in the Australian Government’s welfare agency, Centrelink, highlights a dreadful secret that Australia’s Federal Parliament, with the aid of Australia’s (“we want to hold politicians accountable”) mass media, has successfully hidden for decades and which ACMA Report 2780, along with secret parliamentary privilege suppression orders, was also intended to hide:

 “Centrelink does not collect ‘Post Breaching Terminal Outcome Statistics’ and is therefore unable to assist with your request for this information.”

In just one simple statement, Assistant Secretary Neil Skill explains how post-breaching fatalities have been kept from the public for decades, i.e. they did not bother to "collect" this data.

In just one simple statement, Assistant Secretary Neil Skill explains how post-breaching fatalities have been kept from the public for decades, i.e. they did not bother to “collect” this data.

 What do you know about this death toll? The answer is nothing because the death toll caused by unconstitutional ‘Breach of Contract’ legislation is unreported by Centrelink. As many as 12,000 people may be dead but the Australian press has studiously ignored this humanitarian disaster!

 Breaching, i.e. the penalty for an alleged Breach of Contract, was, until a few years ago:

 “The targeted and therefore deliberate, removal of support from extremely vulnerable, financially impoverished people, so that for a period of 3 months, they were unable to meet even the most basic costs of living.”

 Between the 1st July 2000 and the 30th June 2001, the then Employment Minister, Tony Abbott, did that 346,078 times at the mind boggling, world record setting, rate of about 3 times minute during normal Commonwealth Public Service working hours! (If a bus was running late and a job seeker was 10 minutes late for an interview, that was “Breach of Contract!”)

  1.  When you do that 3 times a minute for an entire year, how many people die? How many fatalities go into the Centrelink computer database base that the mass media never asks about because the mass media barons and “$2-a-day baronesses” approve of this activity and regard any breaching triggered fatalities are merely an acceptable consequence?
  2. Despite the massive nation-wide resources of News Ltd, Kym Williams has never sent a reporter to ask Tony Abbott that particular question. In fact, for decades no reporter from any Australian mass media organization has ever asked that question of any Employment Minister or any minister with responsibility for the welfare portfolio.
  3. In fact, the Australian mass media has avoided like the plague the following statement:

“The committee accepted your submission as submission 287, and resolved to treat it as confident. …As your submission is confidential, you should not publish or give copies of your submission to others unless the committee has advised you that it may be circulated.”

A Check on submissions to the Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 Inquiry will show that submission 287 is officially "Not yet available". As this letter reveals, it is secretly classified as confidential.

A Check on submissions to the Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 Inquiry will show that submission 287 is officially “Not yet available”. As this letter reveals, it is secretly classified as confidential.

 The abject failure of Australia’s mass media to hold politicians accountable for the unreported death toll caused by the unconstitutional legislation exposes Kym Williams vested interest statement to be nothing more than a deceitful, self-serving lie about wanting to hold politicians accountable.

  1. The simple truth, as evidenced by Kym Williams “market forces” statements, is that the commercial mass media is profit focused and nothing, not democratically elected governments nor national laws will stand in the way!
  2. Essentially, News Ltd is an excellent exemplar of a self-serving, amoral, mass media organization that is entirely motivated by profit, not “freedom of speech.”
  3. As Jacintha Saldanha’s death has shown, without adequate regulation, just as it was in Nazi Germany 70 years ago, a national mass media that is unfettered can be lethal.
  4. I repeat my point that an impartial inquest into the background ‘fine details’ of Jacintha Saldanha’s tragic death, e.g. the prevailing ethical ethos of Australia’s mass media, could shine a bright light in a very dark place and prevent further deaths.
  5. If that happens, then by her death, many other lives will be saved.

 Surely, that is a legacy that is worthy of a caring, sensitive person such as Jacintha Saldanha?

 NOTE: THe short link URL for this page is http://wp.me/p1n8TZ-8C

Ronald Medlicott GDA, Dip T, Cert FLM.

(Christian advocate of welfare justice in Australia.)

 

 

 

 

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