Broadcast authority ACMA has commenced an investigation into comments made by Channel Nine rugby league commentators Ray Warren and Phil Gould, as fallout continues to spread from their anti-poker machine reform editorial.
An ACMA spokesman confirmed the investigation this morning, telling The Power Index that a statement would be released shortly.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and fellow anti-gambling campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon have also written a letter to Channel Nine demanding an explanation over the comments.
Last week The Power Index reported that Clubs Australia was given advance notice by Nine that the editorial was going ahead. The lobby group said it did not pay Nine for the spot.
At the time Nine did not respond to questions about who commissioned the editorial. Today a spokesperson told The Power Index the network would be providing a “considered response” on the issues raised by Wilkie and Xenophon. The spokesperson did not return a second email asking about the ACMA probe in time for today’s deadline.
“We are confident we are not in breach of any code provisions,” a spokesperson said. “That said, we do not intend to offer a running commentary on the matter in the media.”
Warren and Gould have come under attack from Wilkie and Xenophon for the half time message in which they slammed mooted pre-commitment technology for poker machines.
Senator Xenophon says he is “still pretty stunned” by Warren and Gould’s comments which were “so clumsily worked into the commentary.”
“We need answers from the network about who actually authorised this,” he told The Power Index this morning. “Ray Warren says it was given to him as a job to do, the question is by whom.”
Yesterday Warren told Fairfax radio that he did community service announcements “regularly” and the September 23 editorial “was no different”. He said he believed the controversial policy could lead to job losses.
But the day after the match Warren co-hosted a Triple M sports show called Dead Set Legends, on which he revealed the comments were scripted, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
”It was a directive from up top that it be read by at least somebody, so I read it,” Warren told co-host Dan Ginnane.
Warren said he supported the message and while he wasn’t sure, believed it was paid for: ”I think it was an ad, if you like, it sounded like an ad. I think it was done on behalf of the rugby league, who is fully supportive of the clubs.”