The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was formed on 1 July 2005 by the merging of the Australian Communications Authority and Australian Broadcasting Authority. ACMA is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, radio communications, telecommunications and online content.

But does the Communications Minister back her own regulator? In case of Alan Jones, what comes first? Gloria or governance? Does the Parrot take priority?

According to The Age today, Senator Coonan has refused to support ACMA’s ruling against Alan Jones.

We put the following questions to Senator Coonan’s office this morning:

  • ACMA has existed for less than two years. Do you believe it is adequately fulfilling its brief? Is it functioning to your full satisfaction? Are the 2GB findings just a case of teething troubles?
  • Has the efficient operation of the Authority been compromised or affected in any other way by tasks you have allocated to it, such as overseeing mergers and acquisitions in the wake of last year’s changes to media ownership laws?

In response, we were told it’s all a matter for the industry. Sorry. Industry, to use the emphasis Coonan’s keeper used.

We were referred to the media release Senator Coonan issued on Wednesday. We were told “the code in question [in the Jones case] was developed by industry, in consultation by ACMA. The press release states that it is important that the code reflects community standards and if some parts of the industry have concerns about the code, then they should by all means take steps with the regulator to review the code. Further questions about the review process should be directed to the industry body, Commercial Radio Australia.”

As an old pressie myself, these Delphic utterances are pretty easy to decipher.

When asked what comes first, Gloria or governance, Helen Coonan’s response is to say “Polly wanna cracker?”

We might be mixing our bird metaphors here a bit, but it seems unlikely that 2GB will kill the parrot that lays it so many golden eggs. Even if he behaves like a goose in other ways.