Betting and those annoying ads

Alex Oliver, Lowy Institute research fellow, writes: Re. “Live odds: mishandled by everyone, from first to last” (yesterday). I must disagree with Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer on the most appropriate solution to annoying live odds on television. They wrote:

“Yes, the gambling industry is trying to build a business model via parasitism on popular sports; yes there may eventually emerge in the future evidence that it’s harmful, yes Tom Waterhouse is the single most annoying face on Australian TV, but the traditional response to annoying content is to turn it off, not regulate it by legislation.”

While I agree completely with evidence-based policymaking, this is not an example of simple “annoying content”. There are two clearly distinguishable content types here: a popular sport (almost to the level of a “public good”, given the imperative to screen it on free television) and private gambling activity, being promoted inextricably and contemporaneously with sport. You can’t simply switch off one and watch the other. Do you want your news service peppered with live reads of sitcom ads? Your sitcoms interrupted by live weather feeds? Your live weather feeds with gardening tips interspersed?

These are inappropriate juxtapositions of content. By all means, research and consult away. But the solution can’t be just to “switch off”.

Mungo MacCallum writes: Unusually for them, Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer seem to have missed the point. The argument is not about annoying advertising or nanny state stuff, it is about consistency. If we ban gambling ads during children’s viewing hours, why on earth leave a loophole for sporting broadcasts? Their logic would lead to the reintroduction of wall-to-wall tobacco advertising and, in the extreme, child p-rnography. These may not be moral equivalents, but regulation is the government’s job. And if it is considered necessary during normal children’s programs, then it should cover the ones they watch on Sunday afternoons.

Church abuse and the Irish example

Roger Kelly writes: Re. “Losing the faith? Irish lessons for Catholics under pressure” (yesterday). Further research into the Irish outcomes of their child abuse enquiry — and hopefully Australia’s — can be found at: www.countmeout.ie. I came across this when I went looking for a way to officially get out of the Catholic Church — for obvious reasons.  I urge you to go there.

This site was set up to enable the Irish to officially “defect” from the church. It was doing good business until — swiftly and quietly — former pope Benedict deleted the whole process from canon law. Too many were leaving. (The church still takes its own membership figures as every baptism ever recorded — ignoring non-practising and those who do not wish to be Catholic any longer). To me, this was as sinister and cynical as the cover-up itself.

Your article poses the question as to what will be the reaction of Australian Catholics to this horrific situation. I suggest that checking out this site will give you an indicator. I found that the main man who set up the site is still contactable through the site email and may give you more good and relevant material, particularly because they are further down the road.

Had any one of those priests been a layman, charged with his offences, there would rightly be serious jail time and publicity. How are they different? And the church is choking over a mere “apology”? This is a clear indicator of their sincerity — they truly think they are special because of their job and certainly above the law. Again, if a layman had been involved in the cover-up of a crime of p-edophilia, he would be charged and punished. This self-appointed exceptionalism is intolerable and is clearly at the heart of how this all happened.

Connect the dots

Leigh Milne writes: One reason I approve of the Crikey ethos is that Crikey seems to follow through with reporting on an event, rather than letting today’s big headline disappear tomorrow. In that light, and to connect some more dots, your article “Cybersecurity awareness week: be aware you’re being lied to” early in last Friday’s edition is brought into local focus with this article later in the section “Tips and rumours“, to quote the section”US firm cracks Defence contract. The secretive US software and cybersecurity company Palanti r …”

The eagle has landed. Although its chicks have been living here for years. And there’s no known coincidence with the secretive services of Australia’s plea for more cash in the last few days. Is there?

Peter Fray

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