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The Age

Media create new Paxton episode

Author: Wendy Tuohy
Date: 27/03/1996
Words: 512
          Publication: The Age
Section: News
Page: 1
Channel 9 has cancelled advertising on 3AW worth up to $300, 000 because the station's drive-time host, Paul Barber, attacked A Current Affair's coverage of the Paxton family saga.

Nine also cancelled daily live crosses to 3AW by its top- rating news anchor, Brian Naylor, and denied the radio station access to audio material from last night's Oscars.

But a defiant Mr Barber said: ``How dare they hold the gun of advertising to the station's head."

Mr Barber interviewed Shane and Bindy Paxton for an hour on Monday about the impact on their lives of a series of reports by A Current Affair.

The reports, which went to air earlier this month, showed the unemployed Paxtons being given jobs on a Queensland island but leaving them because they did not agree with dress or grooming requirements. The family has been severely criticised across Australia since the reports went to air.

After 3AW's five o'clock newscast on Monday, Mr Barber urged his listeners to boycott Nine and to ``switch off" A Current Affair to protest against the network's treatment of the story.

Yesterday he said Channel 9 was trying to silence him.

Mr Barber said: ``I don't know what their (Nine's) argument is against us; apparently it's that you can't criticise a Channel 9 program. Well, stuff them. How dare they hold the gun of advertising to the station's head." He said the cancellation of the advertising by the managing director of Nine, Mr Ian Johnston, was an attempt to ``silence somebody on the air waves".

``I just feel that A Current Affair making the Paxtons the target of middle Australia's hatred is indefensible journalism, " Mr Barber said.

``What I said (on air) was that the only way you can show your displeasure that they used and abused the Paxtons was by not watching the bloody program."

He was not told that Mr Johnston had called the managing director of 3AW's parent, Southern Cross Broadcasting, Mr Tony Bell, immediately after his ``switch-off" call, cancelling Nine's advertising.

Mr Barber said Nine had camera crews at the front and back doors of 3AW trying to film the Paxtons and that A Current Affair repeatedly telephoned him asking to film the family in the studio.

Mr Johnston said yesterday that advertising had been cancelled but would not say how much it was worth. He said he was unaware of the Oscar arrangements.

Nine's Melbourne head of programming, Mr Len Downes, said advertising had been cancelled on Mr Barber's program but he would not say where else in 3AW's schedule advertising would be withdrawn.

The network runs radio program promotions throughout the day. ``I am looking at other areas (of Nine advertising on AW) at the moment," he said.

Mr Johnston said that despite his annoyance with 3AW, he expected to resume normal relations with the station in the future.

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