Australia tightens rules against radio pay-for-say


MicrophoneAccording to The Sydney Morning Herald, two of Australia’s leading radio “presenters” were able to bank considerable amounts of cash for promoting various good and services on their programs, all without any disclosure as to why they were saying nice things about those products and services. The initial attempt to rein in the practice took place in Y2K, and now a key loophole has been closed.

The original ruling set up rules that prevented the air talent to directly strike agreements with companies seeking a positive mention during their programs.

However, it did nothing to prevent companies from entering into agreements with station ownership. Deals between those two entities could be struck, and the mentions aired without disclosure, as long as the presenter had no direct interest.

Critics of the loophole said there were many ways the presenter could ultimately be rewarded that were just about impossible to link to the aired statements. So new rules are said to have closed that rather obvious loophole.

Broadcasters got one good thing out of the latest ruling – they can disclose the advertising relationship in language of their own choosing rather than via use of something along the lines of a standardized disclosure statement. However, constant airing of disclosure announcements regardless of their wording is thought to be disruptive to the natural flow of radio programming and the rule is expected to put a damper on this type of advertising.

RBR-TVBR observation: We’d like to get a piece of this pay-for-say action. Here’s how it might work. I’ll make a true statement like this: “The refreshing can of Cherry Diet Dr Pepper I drank while writing this article helped make the process all that much more enjoyable.” (This was not a paid statement on behalf of the Dr Pepper Company, but it could have been, if you get our drift!)