Breached code: 2GB Radio announcer and talkback host Ray Hadley. Photo: Peter Rae
Talkback host Ray Hadley's morning program has been found to have breached the commercial radio codes when broadcasting false claims about the former treasurer Wayne Swan.
In a broadcast that aired on June 25, 2012, Hadley claimed that children visiting Canberra's Parliament House would no longer be offered fruit snacks and bottles of water due to budget cuts. Hadley based his assertions on a story in that morning's Daily Telegraph.
Commentators and journalists have a responsibility to correct the record if they get it wrong
However, before Hadley went to air with his claims, Mr Swan had issued a statement to all media outlets saying the story was “completely wrong” and that not a “single dollar” was being cut from the schools hospitality program.
Wayne Swan: his office contacted 2GB over the report. Photo: Andrew Meares
Hadley ridiculed Mr Swan's statement, telling listeners: “It appears Mr Swan has not read what he needs to read in relation to all of this."
Rather than taking Mr Swan's word that the story was inaccurate, Hadley described the then federal treasurer as one of the “most dishonest politicians ever to govern this country”.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority judged that Hadley failed to make “reasonable efforts” to broadcast factual material.
The ACMA also found that, in later broadcasts, Hadley failed to properly correct the record and did not clearly acknowledge that his original statements were wrong.
The authority is in discussions with 2GB about remedial measures. The ACMA does not have the power to fine Harbour Radio, the licensee of Hadley's station 2GB. Nor can the peak body remove the talkback host from air.
Options for punishment include the ACMA asking Harbour Radio to issue a correction or accept an “enforceable undertaking” if they breach the accuracy code again. Another option is for the ACMA to impose an additional licence condition on the broadcaster, as it did when 2Day FM's morning host Kyle Sandilands asked a 14-year-old girl whether it was her only sexual experience when she had been raped at the age of 12.
The Hadley decision is similar to an ACMA finding last year against the host's colleague Alan Jones. On his 2GB breakfast show Jones said that “human beings produce 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”.
Like Hadley, Jones had failed to make “reasonable efforts” to ensure the statement was accurate. After the ACMA handed down its ruling, 2GB promised to give Jones journalism training, “concerning factual accuracy”.
Hadley has been contacted for comment about Wednesday's ACMA decision.
Mr Swan told Fairfax Media that Hadley's broadcast was “completely false from the outset”.
“Even when my office contacted Mr Hadley's show directly, and even after the Daily Telegraph admitted it got the story wrong and corrected it, Mr Hadley refused to tell his listeners the actual truth,” Mr Swan added.
“Just like politicians, commentators and journalists have a responsibility to correct the record if they get it wrong.
“Mr Hadley failed his listeners by refusing to so."
Hadley is currently involved in legal proceedings over his alleged bullying of a junior colleague at 2GB.