Sydney’s brothel barons are accusing The Daily Telegraph of discriminating against them by charging exorbitant advertising rates and it doesn’t look like this tale’s set to have a happy ending, with the Adult Business Association threatening to pull all of their advertising completely if the situation isn’t resolved.  The ABA is also demanding that the paper cracks down on illegal brothels advertising as massage parlours in the health section for cheaper rates.

“Why are builders only charged around $100 for an advertisement while adult services are slugged around $1,000?” says ABA spokesperson (and occasional Crikey tax commentator) Chris Seage.

Fairfax doesn’t run any adult services in the classified sections of their major newspapers (although they do in some community papers) but there’s no doubt that the adult industry dollar is worth something to News Ltd. A boycott could leave a gaping hole worth millions of dollars in the Daily Tele‘s ad revenue.

According to the ABA, they spend approximately $15 million a year on placing ads (including job classifieds for prospective employees) in The Daily Tele. One member alone spends half a million a year with the paper.

One brothel owner was so dirty on the Daily Tele‘s practices that she hired a private investigator to conduct a “happy ending” survey.  The investigator rang every massage parlour advertising in the Tele‘s ‘Health, Beauty and Fitness’ section to ask the key question — “Do you provide a Happy Ending Service”? This was considered a “clear and unequivocal test of the availability of s-xual services.”

Here’s a slice of the official spreadsheet:

 

Advert No

Advertisement

Special Comments

3

A Beautiful Full Body Relaxation Bondi $30 1/2 hr

2 Girls ask the girl for a full service

4

ALL ASIAN LADIES MASSAGE New feeling 7 days to Newtown

Have to talk to the girls and the second call produced an unequivocal yes

5

ASHFIELD Exec Chinese Ladies, full body msg The Esplanade

Receptionist was evasive but produced a Yes

18

AT HAYMARKET BEAUTIFUL Ladies full body Massage

Clear Yes

19

At Homebush West, Prof ladies Remed relax massage.

2 girls $50 half hour, happy ending $10 extra

88% of the advertisers were determined to have a “definite s-xual service component.”

“These shonks are illegal brothels who have not been approved by the government,” says Seage. “Not only are they taking business away from the legal industry but they are being further assisted in getting a financial advantage over legal operators by The Daily Telegraph.”

Advertising insiders have told Crikey that many classifieds are reluctant to court the adult industry as they have a shady reputation, don’t always pay on time and most importantly, classifieds risk losing disgruntled clients who don’t relish the prospect of their business name being brandished alongside a brothel ad.

But Robbie Swan of the Eros Association finds this line hard to swallow. “Why should News Ltd discriminate against the s-x industry when they make so much money out of it and create editorial out of it and then turn around and slap them on the bum with the other hand…?” says Swan. “If prostitution is a legal business, which it is, it should not be subject to any unfair discriminatory practices…”

Swan says that the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board should take the ACT’s lead and amend the Anti-Discrimination Act to ensure that people can “sue for discrimination on the grounds that it is based on occupation, job, profession or calling.”

Swan says that The Canberra Times used to charge double rates for the adult industry, but since the ACT’s legislation was enacted in 1994, the rates have come down significantly. “Recently ACT WIN TV refused to take ads for the s-x industry,” says Swan. “We wrote to WIN’s lawyers to inform them that it was a breach of the discrimination act and they backed down…”

Crikey contacted The Daily Telegraph for a comment but they didn’t get back to us before publication.

Peter Fray

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