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Steve Price should be applauded for apologising to Pauline Hanson for broadcasting a private conversation that was secretly taped and in the spirit of apologies, Stephen Mayne has again apologised to Steve Price for publishing a baseless Raymond Hoser press release.

Mayne and Price both apologise

Crikey would like to be the first person to congratulate 3AW’s Steve Price for apologising to Pauline Hanson on air last Friday.

Price was always clearly in the wrong for airing on several occasions a taped private conversation of Hanson’s after she angrily ended a phone interview with him.

“It was wrong to broadcast it. I regret that now,” he told listeners on Friday.

“If I caused Mrs Hanson any embarrassment or damage I’m sorry for that.”

“It was not done with any malice but with a view to giving an insight into the real Mrs Hanson.”

The Herald Sun reported that Price vigorously denied being forced to apologise or that the apology was the result of any complaints from the public, Mrs Hanson or the Australian Broadcasting Authority. He simply said that he apologised “because I realised I was wrong”.

It is interesting that it took about 10 days for Price to realise this and curious that his apology came just one day after we published the following extract on Crikey when discussing his Supreme Court defamation action against Crikey and Stephen Mayne personally.

Extract from Crikey published Thursday, Feb 22, 2001

“Steve Price appears to have spoken to Mark Day for his column on our spat in today’s Media Section of The Australian.

The line that really resonates is this one:

“Throughout, Price has said nothing. But he has stuck to his belief that any media outlet – whether it has an audience of millions or a few hundred, such as Crikey – has a responsibility to get its facts right or face the consequences. He is of the view that he has to get it right on his radio program, so there shouldn’t be different rules for web publishers.”

But does this approach also extend to journalistic ethics and licence conditions. Gina and Will are currently broadening their statement of claim in the defamation matter and they are welcome to include the following statement.

“Steve Price was totally unethical last week when he broadcast a tape of Pauline Hanson’s private conversations after she’d accidentally not hung up the phone properly at the conclusion of an interview.”

Why do we say that with such assuredness? Well, we were trawling through some old ABA investigations last night and discovered one which might very well interest Pauline Hanson.

Austereo’s 5SA was found to be in breach of the Commercial Radio Code of Practice in 1999 in remarkably similar circumstances when Tonia Tenaglia broadcast a tape of comments by the complainant without her consent.

The rules are pretty clear. Take a look at Code of Practice: Interviews and Talk-Back Programs 6.1:

“A licensee must not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless: (a) that person has been informed in advance or is aware the words may be broadcast; or (b) in the case of words which have been recorded without the knowledge of the person, that person has subsequently, but prior to the broadcast, indicated consent to the broadcast of the words.”

If Hanson lodged a complaint Price would almost certainly go down and get slapped with a damp lettuce leaf by those paper tigers at the ABA.”

ends

Whatever the circumstances, Price has been big enough to apologise and should be congratulated for this. Given this apologetic spirit, we are once again prepared to do likewise for publishing an inaccurate press release about Mr Price from political candidate Raymond Hoser.

We accept that Hoser made inaccurate and inflammatory allegations which were baseless. We did not publish it with any malice as it was merely an addendum to a long article we published about the cash for preferences offer Labor made to us during the Burwood by-election. It was removed as soon as the error was pointed out to us.

“It was wrong to publish it. I regret that now,” Stephen Mayne said.

“If I caused Mr Price any embarrassment or damage I’m sorry for that.”

We have subsequently on numerous occasions published to many thousands of people the fact that Steve Price was not found to be in breach of anything by the Australian Broadcasting Authority and that Hoser’s were baseless. Thankfully, they were viewed by less than 200 people.

In fact, so we can clearly establish the circumstances of his free Volvo, click here to view the complete ABA report into 3AW which cleared Price.

Mr Price has taken out a separate contempts summons against Crikey for allegedly trying to “interfere with or obstruct the due administration of justice in that they (various publications) contained threats directed to both the plaintiff and his legal representatives designed, calculated or intended to dissuade the plaintiff from continuing his proceedings; they contained warnings directed to the plaintiff that unless he discontinued or withdraw his proceeding he would sufferadverse publicity and public condemnation.”

We’d like to make it perfectly clear that we regret any intimidatory or threatening letters that were sent to Price’s lawyers by Crikey subscribers. We read many emails that were measured and sensible but some of the others were too aggressive.

If the case proceeds we think it would be good because Australia needs to have a decent debate about free speech and our defamation laws.

It will be interesting to see if Pauline Hanson proceeds with her intended complaint to the ABA after the Price apology. Similarly, it will be interesting to see if Price continues with his two Supreme Court actions against Crikey now that we have sincerely apologised.

Afterall, Price and I are both right wingers who barrack for Richmond, like an aggressive debate and hate Pauline Hanson. It does seem odd that we are brawling through lawyers rather than on 3AW or on this website.

Anyway, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, come to our legal fundraiser at the Dendy Bar in Martin Place from 6pm till 9pm. The Demtel man Tim Shaw will be MC for the night and the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green will be our special guest.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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