Media Watch to Ten: ‘You’re prostitutes’; Ten to Holmes: ‘You’re naive’

The Ten Network has returned fire at the ABC over criticism by Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes that a paid news-style segment featuring the Ten News logo was “prostitution”.

ten mortgage choice

Last night Media Watch revealed that Ten carried a sponsored commentary around the bank rate cut hosted by Matt Doran and featuring  Mortgage Choice spokesman Ben Herden.

And despite the fact that key lenders had already passed on the cut, which Ten had reported hours before, the Mortgage Choice “news” segment featured Harden calling for the rate card to be passed along and urging viewers to call a mortgage broker if not.

During the program Holmes described the segment as “fake news”. He told viewers: “It’s not advertising, it’s prostitution.”

However, Ten derided the comments, saying: “To describe them as ‘prostitution’ is ludicrous, extreme and naïve. Sponsored segments are commonplace in News bulletins across all commercial networks.”

According to the station, the segment was originally intended for broadcast only before the RBA decision and was accidentally put to air afterwards.  The station said it has now changed its internal processes to ensure this does not occur again.

“The Mortgage Choice sponsorship is clearly identifiable with their logo and the analyst is clearly announced as a representative of Mortgage Choice,” Ten said. “The newsreader asks the commentator for his views on the RBA announcement and implications for mortgagees.”

Holmes, this afternoon told Mumbrella that he rejected the station’s criticisms. “I’d be interested for other examples of fake news updates that are entirely paid for and that are basically ads,” said Holmes.

“I’m not aware of any parallels. That’s why I said it was prostitution, it was a deliberate attempt to pretend that this was a genuine news update – it had the same set, it had the News at Five, it had more news later in the evening — all of that stuff plus the genuine newsreader doing it, so in all of those ways it is an attempt to make it look like a genuine news update.”

“That is what I would regard as deceit or close to it,” he said.

Ten also criticised Media Watch for failing to seek comment about the segment before it was broadcast. “It should also be pointed out that Media Watch failed the most rudimentary test of fair reporting: at no stage did it contact Network Ten before its ‘story’ went to air,” said the Ten spokesman.

Last year Media Watch apologised to The Daily Telegraph’s Andrew Clennell for failing to seek comment over a story it ran on gaming reform in 2011. It apologised again a fortnight ago for not contacting News Limited’s Tim Blair for what turned out to be an incorrect item about his blog.

Holmes said the situations were different. “I don’t know what was going to be added for our viewers by seeking their view on it,” said Holmes.”We were focusing on any particular individuals, in the case of Andrew Clennell – in the ACMA’s view anyway – he was entitled to a right of reply because he was personally criticised. We didn’t criticise any particular newsreader, I mean clearly they were just doing their jobs or what they were told to do.”

Nic Christensen


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