Re. “Shareholders fodder for the almighty Rodney Adler” (12 June, item 2).

Click here to read the text.


Kim Williams, Foxtel CEO, writes: Re. “Hypocrisy watch: Foxtel lectures Free to Air TV on competition“. Glenn Dyer’s idea that the ACCC should declare the “FOXTEL Network as a national asset” like rail lines in the Pilbara to let third parties have access for the future, is visionary. The problem is it’s rear vision. FOXTEL for years has operated a well-publicised third party open access regime that is approved by the ACCC and is successfully used by access seekers.

Glenn also runs tired, old commercial network PR furphies like the one that FOXTEL has no competitors. The last time we looked subscription TV — provided by many independent platforms and more than 150 channels owned by over 50 independent companies — was in fierce competition with the networks’ cosy oligopoly. As Network Ten’s Executive Chairman, Nick Falloon said in late 2006, ‘We look at this (expenditure on AFL) as an investment over the next five years in free TV v pay TV, which is our main competitor’. At FOXTEL we are competing against a universally available free substitute every day.

Glenn says: “Free to air TV in this country is not a monopoly nor is it anti-competitive.” He must have missed the facts that they have been gifted massive amounts of public spectrum, been handed a monopoly first right to 1300 sporting events each year by the anti-siphoning list, and that no one is allowed to set up a new commercial TV network. Too bad if you want to invest and take the risk — you are not allowed in. He fails to mention there is no barrier to entry to subscription TV — licences are available over the counter at ACMA, although you do need the willingness and capacity to invest and take risks.

Clearly Free TV Australia is upset at the idea of having a fourth or fifth free-to-air commercial network entering the market. Australian consumers will likely have another view. New digital only commercial networks would also help the Government drive digital television take-up.

Glenn’s daily TV ratings commentary shows where he is at. Each day he ignores the 32% of households and more than 8 million Australians who spend 60% of their time watching subscription services.

The United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman shut down analogue TV in that country last weekend thus: “…farewell to the Dinosaur Age and (welcome to) the dawn of the Digital Age.”

If Australia is to move from the “Dinosaur Age to the Digital Age” we do need bold media policy advances and we do need commentary that is better informed by, and engaged with, what is really happening in the developing digital economy.


Luke Whitington writes: Re. “Lessons in history: what Iran can teach us about church and state” (yesterday, item 15). Mike Stuchbery’s informative piece about the history of Iran left out perhaps the most important historical episode in US-Iran relations, one that informs the Iranian view of the USA, and no doubt affects the response of the Iranian leadership to the current protests.

This was the CIA- organised and sponsored coup against Iranian PM Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953. The coup reinstated the Shah who then ruled with an iron fist until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It was also the CIA’s first effective coup, undertaken partly on behalf of the failing and fading British Empire, whose oil company Anglo-Iranian (now BP) was very upset with Mossadeq’s decision to nationalise the oil fields of Iran.

The coup involved the CIA paying for the fomenting of civil disturbances and street protests in Tehran. News that the US Government has asked Twitter to postpone maintenance to help the current protesters would have caused Iranians with strong memories of 1953 Coup to question who is behind the demonstrations.

Your readers can do a simple Google search and find all the relevant documents, including the official secret CIA history of the coup here

The Iranian view of the USA cannot be understood without reference to the 1953 Coup. A particular interesting take on the average Iranian’s willingness to believe conspiracy theories about the USA is discussed in Douglas Little’s article “Mission Impossible: The CIA and the Cult of Covert Action in the Middle East” Diplomatic History 28, no.5 (Nov. 2004): p.663-701.

He points to the enormous popularity in Iran of the 1960’s TV show Mission: Impossible, which featured an episode eerily similar to the 1953 Coup, and the persistence of beliefs about 9/11 being a CIA plot. That some will believe that the US is behind the current protests in Iran is hardly surprising when you know the history of US-Iran relations.

Merran Williams writes: An addition to Mike Stuchbery’s entertaining potted history of Iran — the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadeq’s elected government in 1953. Mossadeq’s nationalisation of the Iranian oil industry at the expense of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company infuriated the British and they collaborated with the recently formed CIA to stage a coup – something at which the CIA subsequently became quite adept. The Mossadeq operation was run by the wonderfully named Kermit Roosevelt and detailed in his book Countercoup published in 1979.

This undemocratic interference enabled the unelected Shah to consolidate his power as Iran’s leader and the resulting excesses were forgiven by the United States as he was considered to be an anti- communist bulwark in a key strategic state. It’s true the Shah instituted numerous reforms and modernisation programs. But he also alienated almost every sector of the population with his lavish lifestyle, funded through the public purse, and his use of secret police to imprison and torture opponents. There was widespread joy when he was finally ousted from power in 1979.

The anti-American rhetoric that got so much attention during the Iranian Revolution had its roots in the 1953 coup and hasn’t been forgotten today. Iranians generally like Americans as a people — many have friends or family living there. But they despise the US Government’s propensity for meddling in other people’s business.


Michael James writes: Re. “Love’s letter lost: Malcolm Turnbull’s dead cat scrawl unearthed” (yesterday, item 1). There is more to this story than meets the eye. Was this a Cheshire cat? (its soul departed and the only thing left behind was that trademark grin, on the nearest human, to mark him for the rest of his life?) Was Schrödinger involved? Is this cat really dead? We demand to know the truth.

Or perhaps more likely, given his later career in high finance, it was probably an unfortunate outcome from Malcolm testing the dead cat bounce theory of stock market behaviour!

John Templeton writes: In the 1979 UK general election, the late Auberon Waugh stood for the Dog Lovers’ Party against Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe after claims that Thorpe had been responsible for the shooting of his former lover’s dog.

Richard Ackland (a similarly talented scribbler) should run in Wentworth at the next federal election for the Cat Protection Party. Where can I contribute to Richard’s campaign?


Jessica Kendall, Media Adviser, Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, writes: Re. “Unions, thugs and Labor: Rudd squares off in obstruction central” (Wednesday, item 1). The article states the Australian Building and Construction Commission has a “willingness to use its powers with no regard to natural justice or procedural fairness.” This statement is incorrect.

The ABCC undertakes its regulatory role in a fair, considered and appropriate manner consistent with its role and functions under the law. The ABCC is accountable for its use of the compliance power. It regularly reports on its use of the power. See the ABCC compliance powers report on the ABCC website.

The ABCC has also conducted a thorough review of its procedures against the Administrative Review Council’s report to the Attorney General entitled The Coercive Information-gathering Powers of Government Agencies. The review found that the ABCC complies with the best practise principals contained in the report. These principals are based on the application of administrative laws in fairness, lawfulness, transparency, rationality and efficiency.

The compliance powers contain some very important protections and safeguards for witnesses. Answers given at an examination cannot be used against that person in subsequent legal proceedings, except in proceedings related to giving false answers. A witness is given at least 14 days written notice of the requirement to attend an examination and all are entitled to legal representation.

Some people prefer to attend an ABCC compulsory hearing because they fear retribution if seen to be cooperating with an ABCC investigation. The ABCC’s compliance powers are employed as a last resort. Every attempt is made by ABC inspectors to obtain information from witnesses voluntarily before a notice to attend an examination is issued.

I request that future Crikey articles reflect factual information about the use of the ABCC’s compliance powers.

The economy:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 11). Richard Farmer has done what some would consider impossible: underestimated the electorate. Writing about Turnbull’s criticism of Labor’s economic record, he argues, “Outside of Parliament House in the real world of voters I doubt there would be many people at all who had any idea what he was talking about”.

Well, few would have accurate, detailed knowledge of the economic policies of previous Labor federal governments, but many would associate Keating with the “recession we had to have” and Whitlam with the “Khemlani Loans Affair” etc, and recall Howard’s continual assertion of Liberal superiority on economic management. Ironically while the “GFC” is not Rudd’s fault it will undoubtedly go into the collective memory that Labor governments are always portend economic disasters.

“Two years after the election and we’re already in deficit!” (And, no, you don’t need to know what a deficit is to be upset about it.)

Unpronounceable surnames:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Your unpronounceable surname could cost you that job” (yesterday, item 16). The study Irfan Yusuf that linked to makes me ashamed to be an Australian. Yes, that’s a cliché, but WOW is it true in this case. “The findings showed a person with distinctly Chinese-sounding name had to submit 68% more applications to get the same number of interviews as a person with an Anglo-Saxon-sounding name.” That — is — disgusting. With over 4000 resumes sent out – “margin of error” doesn’t come into it. Nor, it seems, was there a “margin of decency”… from many employers.


Bren Carlill writes: Re. “Australian government out of step with public opinion on Israel/Palestine” (yesterday, item 14). Antony Loewenstein signed a petition that suggested “Every parliamentarian ought to think seriously about the moral implications of Australia normalising relations” with Israel. Australia normalised relations with Israel over 60 years ago. Back to the history books, sunshine.

Keane vs. Kerr:

John Kotsopoulos writes: Sorry Grant Muller (yesterday, comments) while I enjoyed Christian Kerr’s work and occasionally backed him up when he was being criticised, Bernard Keane is a superior analyst and writer. You cannot blame Bernard if the Libs constantly set themselves up for criticism.

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