Embattled broadcaster 2GB has had yet another finding against it by the media watchdog.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has ruled that the Sydney radio station’s presenter Ray Hadley breached the codes of practice for commercial radio relating both to privacy and to how the station then handled a complaint about it.
The ruling follows comments made by Ray Hadley on his morning show in November last year after the man called police, alleging Hadley had threatened him. The man had previously had an altercation with Alan Jones at an outside broadcast.
Hadley told his listeners:
“Um, in the meantime, um, just for the benefit of people joining me here, I notice there are two police officers outside.
“That would relate to a lunatic who has been writing for about the last five years the most vile letters to myself and Alan Jones. In fact, when a member of our staff was gravely ill, that fellow wrote a letter, that I got a copy of, saying ‘I hope you die’. That’s the sort of person we’re dealing with.
“Now, his name is [X], he lives on [XXXXXXXX] at [XXXXXXXX]. When I came downstairs they told me he’d been abusing Alan from outside the broadcast, so what I did, I walked outside, ‘Officer, g’day, nice to see you both’.
“I walked outside and told Mr [X] that I’d stick his head up his bum and use him as a jug handle unless he went. So if you’d like to take that statement down I’d be more than happy to supply it and write underneath, ‘Mr [X] belongs in a mental institution, he’s a vile character and I have the documents at work where he’s wished people who’ve been ill who have worked for us would die. The most vile character and he’s mentally ill.
“So officers, you’ve got a lot more things to do than worry about that bloke, I can assure you.”
The man named by Hadley complained to ACMA saying: “I’m sure Hadley was miffed that I called the police when he threatened me with physical violence. Is the broadcasting of my name and address about Hadley ‘getting even’? Or is it an exercise in intimidation on Hadley’s part? Is Ray Hadley engaging in mischief-making? Should I be expecting a visit from some disgruntled 2GB supporter?”
It emerged during the investigation that Hadley had got the man’s address wrong, instead broadcasting the address of somebody with the same name. ACMA ruled: “The presenter purported to announce the complainant’s name and address in the course of describing his altercation with the complainant outside the studio.
“While the presenter was concerned about the complainant’s behaviour towards 2GB’s staff and the nature of the letters the complainant allegedly wrote to the station, the ACMA does not consider that there was a public interest reason to disclose his identity.
“The ACMA considers that the broadcast of his personal information was serious, particularly given the manner in which he was described. There was no reason to identify the complainant if the presenter wished to recount the incident which occurred outside the studio and his frustration concerning the event and the complainant’s behaviour.”
However, ACMA said that it needed to take no further action on the issue. In a statement, ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: “‘The broadcast of a person’s name and address without consent is a breach of the privacy protections under the codes.”
2GB is currently dealing with the fallout from Jones off-air comments about Julia Gillard’s father having died of shame.