Alan Kohler had an amusing interview with self-styled “colourful character” John Singleton on Sunday’s Inside Business
program, which offered another example of the bloke’s big mouth and big claims at work. Check out the transcript here.

Former
Nine CEO David Leckie used to say that John Singleton, a self-declared
long-time Kerry Packer mate, had the biggest mouth in Sydney and could
never keep a secret. He was certainly speaking more frankly than anyone
else on the question of what is driving John Howard’s media reforms.

SINGO: There’s sure to be no decisions made that are going
to in any way affect the chances of John Howard being re-elected as
prime minister in the next term, so…

ALAN KOHLER: What does that mean?

JOHN
SINGLETON: Well, it means the terms are going to be, the changes to the
media cross-ownership laws will be only those that don’t make any
existing media owners, doesn’t disadvantage them.

ALAN KOHLER: And what do you think that turns into?

JOHN
SINGLETON: It means life’s a rort and it’s only a rort if you’re not in
it, that’s what it means. And John Howard likes being prime minister so
he’s not going to set out to upset the existing media owners by saying,
“Oh, laissez-faire, let’s have every available – let’s have 50, 100
radio stations, 20 TV stations…” da da da da da. And the natural
barriers to entry in other things like magazines and newspapers
preclude it in any event.

So there you have it. The moguls have to come up with their own
acceptable changes to the regulations and John Howard will do exactly
as they wish. Is that any way to run public policy? What about
diversity of opinion as a policy goal?

I’m
looking forward to renewing relations with Singo at the AGM of his
listed advertising agency STW Holdings on Friday, 27 May in Sydney. The
shares have been bought and flights booked so a fun time should be had
by all concerned. Check out this report
from the last time we turned up at a John Singleton AGM back in May 2001.

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Peter Fray
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