Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Networks reject PM's request for free airtime to deliver carbon tax address

Carbon price is coming!

Julia Gillard has sought free TV airtime on all television networks on Sunday night for an address to the nation on her proposed carbon tax.  But at least two networks, Nine and Seven, have turned down the offer of the special prime ministerial broadcast.

Nine's head of news and current affairs Mark Calvert said he had declined to air the address when sounded out by the Prime Minister's office. "We’re not in the business of handing over free airtime for any political party to broadcast policy ads, without question, and without opposing views," Mr Calvert said. A Seven source said the network would not provide airtime for what it regarded as a party-political announcement.

A Channel Ten source confirmed that network had also received the request. It is unclear yet if it will accept. A spokesman for Ms Gillard said the Prime Minister was "considering" making an address to the nation via the ABC on Sunday night. A live feed would be made available to other networks. "Given the scope of the reform it is only right that she explain to the Australian people the detail of the Government's plan to cut carbon pollution," he said. "All television networks have been given the opportunity to broadcast the address at the same time as always happens for such addresses. Historically they have chosen to on some occasions and not on others. "It is entirely up to them if they choose to take up the offer on this occasion."

An ABC spokesman said the Prime Minister's office first raised the matter with the broadcaster about a week ago. He said it was still awaiting an official request and could consider one when it arrived. The request would be made through the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, as the minister responsible for the ABC. The national broadcaster is obliged to consider such requests under legislation, but it would have the final say on whether the address went ahead.

If it did, a right of reply would be offered to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, the spokesman said. Ms Gillard will unveil her carbon tax at a 12.15pm press conference on Sunday, with journalists receiving full details of the plan in a lock-up starting three hours earlier. Former prime minister John Howard made three addresses to the nation on his GST, with then-opposition leader Kim Beazley receiving a right of reply on each occasion.

Labor's carbon tax is scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2012. The government recently announced a $12 million carbon tax advertising campaign amid growing public opposition to the policy measure. News that final details of the carbon pricing scheme will be announced on Sunday was welcomed by Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ralph Norris, who said it would bring greater certainty to the market.“I think everybody welcomes the certainty. There's nothing worse than operating in a void,” he told reporters in Brisbane.“Voids usually get filled with rumour and speculation. “So obviously having a very clear and specific understanding of what's going to be in that legislation and how the carbon tax is actually going to be promulgated is going to obviously provide some degree of certainty.”

Source and Author: The Australian

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