Alan Jones once said of me, “People like Stephen Mayne don’t deserve a place in society”.

The shock jock clearly didn’t enjoy the campaign I waged a few years back against his cash for comment deals with various listed companies such as Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Optus and IAG. This included running for their boards and threatening to keep doing it every year if they didn’t drop their cash for comment deals. They all did.

Not one of the target companies ever agreed to use the phrase “cash for comment” in the notices of meeting explaining the board tilts. So while they paid for positive commentary from Jones, they were clearly sensitive about letting their shareholders know what was going on, but were still prepared to sign the cheques. The big question now is what 2GB advertisers make of the latest scandal.

The Parrot and his thuggish boss, John Singleton, have massively over-reacted to ACMA’s findings and provided an insight into how power is wielded in Sydney, by claiming chairman Chris Chapman owed them some sort of favour. Singleton said the following to The Australian:

I don’t want to get personal with Chris (Chapman), I like Chris but he has called on Alan (Jones) and me for many favours over the years and we’ve both been forthcoming. So, I’m personally disappointed, but maybe he had no legal alternative.

Jones really went the knuckle by saying Chapman, “had more than jobs and I’ve had feeds. Mr Chapman has gone around this town on many occasions, to me and to others, seeking references to be written for his appointment to a stack of jobs.”

The implication of these comments is that the regulator is in debt to the Parrot and should therefore let him break the rules with gay abandon. That’s an affront to basic ethics.

John Singleton’s interview with Alan Kohler on Inside Business in 2005 might explain why John Howard and Helen Coonan are so effusively backing James Packer’s close mate. Here are the edited highlights:

KOHLER: Do you think the cross-media rules and the foreign ownership rules will change?

SINGLETON: 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…

KOHLER: What does that mean?

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.

The moral bankruptcy of Howard’s position says a lot about his character.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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