Good story on Four Corners
last night – a solid investigative report into the realities of
pharmaceutical regulation in Australia and the US, especially so far as
the drugs Vioxx and Celebrex are concerned – the so called Cox2
inhibitors which were used to mitigate the painful effects of arthritis.

It was good to see Four Cs picking up the yarn, considering the Nine Network’s Business Sunday and 60 Minutes have gone all soft when it comes to taking on big corporates these days!

The Vioxx story has been around since the closing months of last year and neither 60 Minutes or Sunday
(or any program on the Seven network for that matter) have bothered to
take a long, hard look at what had happened in Australia and in the US.
After all, there were only 300 deaths or so involved in Australia and
some people, healthy and vital, were hurt badly by unexplained heart
attacks!

But the story didn’t resonate with viewers, with only 695,000 people
tuning in – about the same as a week earlier for the Cornelia Rau
story. It must have been all too difficult with Four Corners taking on drug companies and the regulators. It’s much easier to flit to Rome to pontificate about a new Pope, as Sunday is doing this weekend. So it’s Nine News and the Seven Network, which is sending royal wedding hostess, Anna Coren!

Media Watch followed Four Corners with a show that resembled a cross between Crikey and The Australian’s Media section. Media Watch found inspiration from both sources with an item on the erroneous reporting in Time magazine of the death of Prince Rainier – first spotted by Crikey – and then the bitchy in-fighting between Nine’s A Current Affair and Seven’s Today Tonight – which featured heavily in last Thursday’s Australian.

The program also took aim at the ABC, Steve Price and Chris Smith, as well as Nine, Seven, Today Tonight and A Current Affair . Only 693,000 viewers tuned in – not brilliant – but it was a good sign that nearly all the Four Corners audience stayed on.

There was some history on the story of the Brava Bra story, some history of relations between Today Tonight and ACA
and their bosses, Neil Mooney and David Hurley. That read like the
Amanda Meade gossip column in last Thursday’s Media Section. That
particular piece is not on the net.

But Media Watch must have read Crikey and didn’t mention Amanda’s wrong sledge that Neil Mooney okayed the $100,000 paid to security guard Karen Burns last year by Today Tonight . But it did discuss, quite nicely, the puerile nature of competition over the Brava Bra story between Today Tonight , which is winning, and ACA , which is losing.

How ACA’s
David Hurley could claim that story as an ‘original’ or a triumph is
well, amazing. It was so bad that you’d just run dead and pick
something more substantive, wouldn’t you?

Two further points from Media Watch
. There was a good report on some oddities about the ABC’s coverage of
the return of the nine dead from Indonesia last week. The toing and
froing between the management of ABC News and ABC TV about who was to
speak to complainants was amusing but stupid. Flick, flick, flick,
no-one but the poor switchboard people were available to talk to the
101 callers. So who made the decision not to show the service at the
ABC, if News or ABC TV would not speak to the public?

Media Watch said 98 of those complaints came from Sydney,
three from Brisbane and none elsewhere. That was because of some
stirring by Nine and Seven Network spinners, with Steve Price on 2UE
and Chris Smith on 2GB being revealed as the main talkback stirrers.
Strange that.

Pricey’s rant was pure Price, ‘close the joint down’. And Smith on 2GB. He’s a former employee of ACA and Nine who left under the cloud of sexual harassment and other claims in the late 90s. He now reads the early morning Today News between 6am and 7am with Sharyn Gihdella.

For that, Media Watch
says the 2GB website discloses that Smith receives more than $100,000
from TCN Channel Nine. That’s a lot of money for getting up early in
the morning, given his past history at Nine’s ACA and is a pretty poor show.

Peter Fray

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