Pay up, and you’ll make the news, inquiry is told


24101 1 Territory poster OK

p2327-Braedon-Earley

 

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

UPDATE at bottom of report.

 

The president of the 1 Territory Party, Braedon Earley (at right), says some Territory news media were routinely flouting rules of the profession in grubby cash-for-comment practices during the lead-up to last year’s NT election.

 

24101 John Mansfield OKIn his submission to Commissioner John Mansfield (at left), who is conducting the Political Donations Inquiry in the NT, Mr Earley claims commercial radio stations as well as the Murdoch owned NT News violated the Journalist Code of Ethics which requires reporters not to allow “advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence”.

 

And he says a mining company, Pangea, offered him $1m, and a similar amout to his party, for dropping their anti-fracking policies. The offers were rejected.

 

In his submission Mr Earley says the 1 Territory Party, which fielded 12 candidates in the election, “felt it faced enormous discrimination by the NT News … [it] refused to spell our name correctly (constantly calling it One Territory, thus insinuating it was a branch of One Nation).

 

“The NT News did not print any media releases, policy announcements, pre-selected candidates’ names or any electorate announcements sent to them.

 

“When 1TP started paying for advertising in the last couple of weeks before the election, the name was corrected, for a short time, but has now reverted to being called One Territory,” says Mr Earley.

 

“Two of 1 Territory’s members met with a senior journalist employed by the NT News prior to the Territory election. Trying to find some middle ground, they were told to their faces ‘we determine the outcome of elections’.

 

NT News masthead 1“It’s a bit of a slap in the face I guess when you are told something like that, so we knew what we were up against from the start and nothing’s changed since.”

 

Ironically, all the efforts of the newspaper could not prevent the catastrophic deafeat of the Giles Government, but Mr Earley speculates the editorial support was a reward for massive spending of public money for advertising when the CLP was in power.

 

“Shall the Territory community ever forget the half page and full page ads and advertorials, being run by the CLP Government in the lead up to the 2016 NT election, every day for months on end?

 

“So it’s obvious, isn’t it? The party who spends the most amount of money on political advertising with the NT News will be favoured editorially, and with blatantly selective analysis and reporting and to hell with what’s really happening. To hell with objective, ethical reporting and fair and balanced coverage.

 

“Given its failures in government, sadly for them, it didn’t matter how much money the CLP spent with the NT News. In the end, they still lost.”

 

The Darwin commercial radio station 104.9 FM made no bones about its conditions for coverage, according to Mr Earley.

 

24101 Katie WoolfHe says station staff “pointed out to us verbally, with witnesses, that until we paid for advertising, we wouldn’t be looked on favourably by the radio station. If we did pay for advertising, we would be afforded more free discussion slots on the 360 Show with Katie Woolf.

 

“To its credit, 104.9FM gave all the candidates a chance to speak on air and for that we were grateful. But not having the money to put towards advertising which would have raised the public awareness and discussion of our policies did hurt us electorally.”

 

Mr Earley is telling the inquiry that with the community radio station 104.1 Territory FM based in Darwin “it was obvious that 1 Territory’s position on fracking didn’t stand us in good stead.

 

“Our information is that 104.1FM is sponsored by a gas company, INPEX, who apparently have onshore gas exploration licenses in the Northern Territory.

 

“1Territory faced discrimination by its announcer, an ex CLP minister [Daryl Manzie], whose primary objective was to nullify any difference of opinion about fracking, from his own.

 

“This was coupled with a dumbing down of the audience on a regular basis, with affirmation given to those being interviewed that support the gas industry point of view, with others either being patronised or spoken over the top of.

 

“It soon became obvious that both the NT News and the radio stations weren’t interested in giving 1TP a fair go unless there was paid advertising with them and lots of it.”

 

Mr Earley says “the Katherine Times was another example of extraordinary journalism.

 

“Again, none of our policies or media releases were printed as sent. Letters to the Editor were manipulated to the point even the writer couldn’t make head or tail of them. It turns out the editor at the time was best mates with the CLP sitting Member for Katherine.”

 

However, Katherine radio 8KTR, was “exemplary in its conduct with regards to fairness and equity for political candidates” and “the media in Alice Springs treated 1Territory very well”.

 

Mr Earley is telling the inquiry that he was “railroaded into a meeting by a friend, Ray Hall, from EcOz to catch up over a coffee.

 

“The meeting was attended by Tim Radburn, the Executive Director from Pangea and a lady (Doctor of Environmental Science) who was the lead environmental consultant to Pangea from Ray’s office.

 

24101 Pangea“During the course of the meeting I was personally offered by Tim Radburn the sum of $1,000,000 in cash to step away from the fracking argument and the party was offered a similar sum or more if the Party stopped pursuing the anti-fracking argument.

 

“The offer was rejected,” Mr Earley told the commission.

 

The Alice Springs News Online is offering right of reply and inviting comment from the media mentioned in this report, and Pangea.

 

UPDATE Dec 8 at 12 noon

 

Tim Radburn, the Executive Director of Pangaea Resources Pty Ltd, emailed the Alice Springs News Online today saying he objects to “extremely serious allegations about Pangaea and about me personally which we categorically deny” and that in June last year he told Mr Earley he should refer the matter to the police if he stood by his allegations.

 

 

 

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7 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Tony Packard
    Posted December 14, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Good on you Braedon Earley! Fracking is not needed or wanted in the Territory.
    Thank you Braedon for standing up for all Territorians.

    View Comment
  2. Braedon Earley
    Posted December 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

    @ Tim Radburn: Our submission is with Justice Mansfield, please feel free to make one to him yourself.
    The submission will be published on his web site, most of Australia’s media has a copy of it. Obviously, those in the media that are complicit in the promotion of fracking won’t comment on it, like the NT News.
    It’s on the internet forever. I cannot be bought and I will not sacrifice the safety or security of the Northern Territory’s water for anything or anyone. Cheers.

    View Comment
  3. Braedon Earley
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:48 am

    @ Bradley Jones: Thanks for your insightful comments. Our evidence sits in numerous folders. Yours?
    Although I do agree, the canvas I have painted may be too hard to understand and lost on some, don’t feel bad.
    You can get more information on our full submission on our face book page, 1 Territory. Have a great day.

    View Comment
  4. Bradley Jones
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Is this Earley bloke insane? If The CLP was getting favoured editorially I would hate to see a negative approach from the media.
    Perhaps if he wants more coverage he should try being a credible candidate and not some fringe-dwelling conspiracy theorist.

    View Comment
  5. Jay
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Wow. Good on Mr Braedon Earley for utterly exposing Pangea, the NT News, 104.9 FM and 104.1FM, Daryl Manzie, the Katherine Times, and Tim Radburn.
    The UN did report a couple of years ago that Australia’s corruption levels had risen dramatically. Every year it seems to be worsening. Sickening!
    Good on you, Braedon. Your righteousness and courage inspires hope.
    And good on Erwin Chlanda and Alice Springs News Online for alerting us of these events.

    View Comment
  6. Don't go easy on Alice Springs
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Remember how the Advocate was running all the CLP coverage with the little editorial boxes? Then slightly after that period the editor actually just became Giles’ media specialist.
    Also, don’t forget folks that when you hear a political candidate speaking on SunFM / 8ha they have probably paid to be there and have that interview.
    I’m not saying all political coverage is paid for but you can imagine how the favouritism works. Don’t believe me. Ask for a rate cards.
    Who owns the Advocate? Who owns SunFM and 8HA? Who owns the Alice Springs News?
    [ED – Happy to answer the last question: The Alice Springs News Online is Alice Springs owned and operated.]

    View Comment
  7. Posted December 5, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Manipulation of public opinion by the mainstream media in the Northern Territory is a time-honoured practice that dates back more than quarter of a century, and possibly further.
    I awoke to this in the NT election campaign of August 1997 when a Murdoch-owned newspaper published on the day before the election a front page story warning that the vote was too close to call.
    This was patent rubbish but it triggered a vague recollection that I’d seen something similar before; and as I’d been heavily involved in the two previous NT election campaigns I checked the back copies I’d filed away.
    Sure enough, the same trick had been played with both front page stories and editorials published one day prior to the election days of June 4, 1994 and October 26, 1990, warning of the closeness of the polls. The technique was employed in Alice Springs and worked in favour of the ruling party.
    The method wasn’t used in 2001; instead the election campaign began with a front page story stating the CLP was a red hot favourite to win – no prizes for guessing what happened on August 18 that year!
    It was this pattern of reporting during the 1990s that alerted me to the value of the (literally) paper trail that has been laid by print media in the NT over the decades.

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