If the ABC didn’t let presenters moonlight they might have to pay them a decent salary

tony jones q and aFor anyone that attends industry awards nights, the fact that ABC personalities are for hire at corporate events will not be a shock, despite today’s news coverage around Q&A’s Tony Jones.

Take last week’s IAB Awards where ABC 702’s Adam Spencer was holding the fort.

Indeed, I felt like holding up my metaphorical cigarette lighter to go along with his greatest hit, so often have I heard him perform it.  

I refer to the part where he explains how the event isn’t the Oscars with some observation about overblown acceptance routines, before contrasting that with the speed at which he’s encouraging everyone to collect their gongs. And of course, followed by the bit where he does a maths stat about the awards before adding “Hello, ladies.”

Gets a laugh every time.

The same goes for The Gruen Transfer’s Wil Anderson. I get a comfortable warm glow as he does his routine about the teacher talking to the class where all the kids are named after brands whenever he’s helming an ad industry event.

Then there’s James O’Loghlin. Hearing him do the gag about the trolley sat the supermarket awards make me feel a safe familiarity. You’re in the hands of a pro who’s going to get you back to the bar within 60 minutes.

And of course the B&T Awards wouldn’t be the B&T Awards without some of the 72 or so Chaser members doing their thing.

So the “Q & Pay ” story in today’s Sun-Herald (good headline, by the way), is a bit tough on Tony Jones, particularly by linking it to the ABC’s rules about conflict of interest.

There’s long been an unspoken rule with the ABC’s biggest personalities. The chances are, most of the could pick up bigger pay checks working for commercial TV or radio.

So they’re allowed to moonlight.

The profile afforded them by the network means they can get lucrative corporate gigs. And that means the ABC can employ them on smaller contracts.

Which is why, if you want a safe pair of hands to moderate a panel, you might well want Tony Jones. Today’s story refers to a panel he’ll be running later this week at an IT event.

And it’s not as if the ABC has been able to patent the format or trademark the name Q&A.

There are plenty of conflicts of interest in the media. This isn’t one of them.

Tim Burrowes


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