Considerations for Sponsors and Advertisers

The Advertising Standards Council of Australia, a voluntary body mainly consisting of advertising industry representatives, has an Advertising Code of Ethics. This prohibits unlawful discrimination and intention to cause grave offence to a significant section of the community. This Code applies only to the style and content of commercials and not the context in which they appear. But the assumption behind the Code is that advertisers should be good corporate citizens. The advertisements on The Sattler File are not necessarily offensive themselves, but the program is highly offensive to a significant section of the community. The program is felt to be having a damaging effect on community relationships. Advertisers then should consider whether sponsoring such a program is compatible with good corporate citizenship.

6PR advertisers might also think about their customers, who may be alienated from 6PR because of The Sattler File's obvious hostility to Aboriginal concerns. If, as is believed by 6PR, product profile is associated with the credibility of the radio personality and program in which commercials for that product are heard, then advertisers may do well to consider how the image of their products and services appear to many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who find Sattler distasteful, abusive, and prejudiced.

The 1986 census figures, the latest available, show a Perth metropolitan Aboriginal population of over 10,000. Yet many media practices reflect and reproduce a prevailing conception that Aboriginal people are somehow outside the community of readers, viewers and listeners, and therefore of consumers and customers, who are addressed by media programs, news stories and advertisements. Aboriginal people are constantly excluded from society by being framed as a 'they community', (ie. not counted as being among 'our community' of white Anglo-Celtic consumers).62

In addition to private consumption by Aboriginal people, more than $70 million each year is allocated for expenditure on Aboriginal affairs in Western Australia via Federal direct grant funding, State Grants, and community employment schemes. This does not include funds allocated by other Federal and State agencies, such as the Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) and the WA Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority (AAPA), for Aboriginal programs. Aboriginal communities and organisations, and the government agencies responsible for the provision of services to them, are by no means insignificant purchasers and sub-contractors of a range of goods and specialist services including motor vehicles (Toyota specifically has benefited enormously from this), construction, road transport, air charter, water and power supply and many others.

The alienation from 6PR and its advertisers of those in the Aboriginal affairs arena, because of hostile and racist programming, does not make good commercial sense. It would make even less sense if rising anger against The Sattler File reached such a pitch that a campaign to boycott its sponsors' products and services were to be organised among the trade unions, churches, Aboriginal organisations and other social welfare and justice organisations. Such things have happened: the weekly Kununurra newspaper The Kimberley Echo was banned by Ansett Airlines WA in 1988, which refused to provide it to passengers on its northern routes because of its attitude towards Aboriginal people.63

If existing regulatory avenues (such as the ABT, Racial Discrimination Act, Equal Opportunity Act, Incitement to Race Hatred provision of the WA Criminal Code, and the AJA Code of Ethics) cannot provide a satisfactory solution, and given the absence of any agreed self-regulatory codes dealing with discriminatory and racist material, such 'consumer' intervention may be seen as the only available course of action.


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