The ABC has taken a tough line on its
announcers having outside interests. Margaret Throsby’s career as an
ABC radio announcer on 2BL in Sydney was temporarily derailed in 1993
after she did TV ads for Macquarie Bank. And Red Symons, an ABC Radio
breakfast presenter in Melbourne, has generated some publicity and a
mention in the Senate Estimates Committee hearing this week for his
other role as a spruiker for hardware on TV commercials.

well-known figure who got a mention in estimates was the Fairfax and
ABC finance commentator Alan Kohler, when Labor Senator George Campbell
quizzed ABC managing director Russell Balding on the question of
Kohler’s new venture (see below) and whether it is compatible with the
ABC’s “general policy objective,” as the Senator put it. Here’s the

Senator GEORGE CAMPBELL—Maybe I will come
back to you with the details of that. Is it true that Mr Alan Kohler, a
financial reporter for the ABC, is currently promoting a private
financial advisory service?

Mr Balding—I am not aware of that. I am advised that he has made a proposal but that proposal has not gone any further at this stage.

understand he is actually running an internet service now—it is up and
running. Has he been given permission for that activity? You say that,
no, he has not.

Mr Balding—As I said, I believe he
has made a proposal and that proposal has not gone any further. I will
have to take that on notice and have a look at it.

Senator GEORGE CAMPBELL—Would you see that activity as being compatible with the ABC’s general policy objective?

Mr Balding—Again, you need to look at each case on its merits.

Senator GEORGE CAMPBELL—You say that Mr Kohler has sought permission but has not yet been granted permission?

Mr Balding—That is what I am advised.

CRIKEY: We know something about Kohler’s new venture because he’s about
to move in to rented space in the Crikey offices in Melbourne, from
where the venture – to be called Eureka Report – will be run. As The Australian
reported in its media section recently, it is an on-line information
service for people who manage their own superannuation. The owners of
the new venture are Kohler, the investment bank Carnegie, Wylie, and
one of Crikey’s new owners, Eric Beecher. The new information service
is scheduled to launch within the next few months.

This is what Alan Kohler said today in response to the Estimates
exchange: “The Eureka Report won’t be a financial advice service – it’s
purely media. The ABC has been kept fully informed from the beginning.
The Eureka Report is an extension of my existing role as a financial
commentator, which I have been doing as a commentator in print and on
TV since 1995.”