Triple M and 2GB lashed by ABC’s Media Watch

Former Editor & Content Director

Image credit: ABC Media Watch

Triple M in Adelaide and 2GB in Sydney drew the ire of the ABC’s Media Watch last night, for what it alleges is a conflict of interest.

The program was critical of how various outlets and programs – including Breakfast with Roo & Ditts on Triple M Adelaide, and 2GB’s Drive host Jim Wilson – were giving retailer Harvey Norman an easy ride.

Media Watch noted Harvey Norman is Australia’s biggest advertiser, seen by many to be propping up media ad spend throughout the pandemic. The program contended this was giving the brand a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card when it comes to its problematic credit card offering.

The initial discussion played out in media outlets earlier this month when CHOICE awarded its Shonky Awards, dubbed by TV’s Karl Stefanovic as “the Oscars for dodgy consumer products”.

Stefanovic’s Today program on Nine noted Harvey Norman’s Latitude Finance credit card charged 22.74% interest – something CHOICE said is “stupidly expensive” when the cash rate is just 0.25%.

Nine stablemate 2GB, however, dedicated five minutes to the awards on Jim Wilson’s Drive program, but failed to mention Harvey Norman at all.

Triple M Adelaide had CHOICE’s Jonathan Brown on the program last week to discuss the award winners. The hosts, Mark Ricciuto and Chris Dittmar, noted Harvey Norman was a sponsor of the station, before Dittmar jumped to the defence of the brand.

Image credit: ABC Media Watch

Media Watch’s Paul Barry said it was an “incredible… live on-air U-turn” from Roo & Ditts.

Barry was also critical of 7News, Nine’s newspapers and News Corp for not giving the story adequate attention, if any at all.

In his defence, 2GB’s Jim Wilson denied commercial pressure, and said there simply wasn’t time to go into the complexities of credit card financing.

“It was a straight out editorial decision. The segment was four minutes and as host I made the decision to focus it on the things that I felt most directly mattered to a broad group of listeners. With time constraints, heading to an all-important Drive traffic update, we felt there wasn’t time to go into the complexities of credit card financing. Any commercial relationship that the station may have, had no factor in this decision,” he said.

Media Watch did not air a response from Triple M’s owner Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) or Dittmar and Ricciuto. When contacted by Radio Today, Media Watch noted it had contacted the media outlets which failed to mention Harvey Norman by name (Nine’s newspapers, News Corp’s print mastheads, 7News and Jim Wilson). As Triple M had actually mentioned the brand, and sound grabs was played on the program, Media Watch said the audio was self-explanatory and didn’t require a further comment.

Radio Today has contacted SCA in a bid to offer it a right of reply to the allegations.

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