Revenue from Rupert Murdoch’s rivers of illegal brothel advertising are about to dry up. The Australian Publishing Bureau (APB) has directed News Ltd and other media outlets not to accept advertising from illegal brothels. I estimate this will result in a loss of about $10 million dollars a year for The Daily Telegraph and its suburban arm, Cumberland Newspapers.

The APB is an association of Australia’s major newspaper and magazine publishers, which was established more than  30 years ago to provide a united voice for publishers on issues affecting the industry as a whole and is the pre-eminent industry advisory body on matters relating to advertising.

Its members include News Ltd, Fairfax Media and News Magazines. In a memo sent to all its members last month by APB executive director Lianne Richards, she said:

Illegal and unregulated brothels can present serious risk to s-x workers and their clients. Kristina Keneally, (Minister for Planning & Minister for Redfern Waterloo) believes that the State Government, Local Councils and the media have a part to play in ensuring that these illegal brothels are stamped out.

Rather than having the Government put into place legislation with the potential for penalties, the APB Board has agreed to ensure that all their respective publications which accept advertisements for adult services relating to brothels will now ask the advertiser to provide the development consent number which will be in advertisements.

Advertisements for any advertiser who cannot, or will not provide the development consent number, will not be published.

This is great news for the legal industry that have for years complained that they were losing business to the unscrupulous side of the industry because the government allowed them to advertise without restriction.

The new system nearly came a cropper last week when I found that some News Ltd staff were advising potential brothel advertisers that if they didn’t have a DA number they could still advertise but instead would go under “Escort”. It seems some News marketing staff, whose salaries are linked to bonuses and commissions for selling advertising space, were still clinging on to the old system. The email below is typical of how News Ltd tried to get around the system:

From: “[email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, 7 October, 2009 3:33:13 PM
Subject: RE: Re: Advertising

There has been a rule just passed, sorry as it is a new policy things have been changed alot.

ALL adult Services and Adult Work Opportunities must contain a da number regardless if there is a address or not,

If there is no DA Number you must start the word ad with ESCORT.

Kind regards,
Xxxxx Xxxxxxx.

Richards said: “I have brought these matters to the attention of senior News executives. They seemed surprised that anyone would email contrary to the advice we have provided. I actually think that there seems to be a misinterpretation of the guideline or something. Let there be no doubt if an advertiser who cannot, or will not provide the development consent number, will not be published.”

Planning Minister Kristina Keneally told Crikey : “The government welcomes and supports these new guidelines and urges all editors to adhere to the new guidelines and to the ICAC recommendation.

“In the meantime, the NSW government and the local government and shires association will be working together to ensure councils continue their enforcement role in relation to illegal brothels.”

This new initiative will also put an end to advertising for single prostitutes working from home. Most councils require them to have development consent. As the majority of them don’t bother and work on the sly, they will not have a number to quote to the media groups.