Archive for September 30th, 2009

Jason’s holiday

Oh dear, 2GB’s Jason Morrison is supposed to be having a holiday this week after filling in for Alan Jones for the last age-and-a-half…but no, he’s in Fiji where his holiday was interrupted by a tsunami alert, which put him back in to reporter mode for 2GB.

Thankfully the tsunami didn’t hit Fiji, but Jason reported on the devastation in the region none-the-less.

2GB better give Jason a nice long break over summer.

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 09:03pm

Income caps and minorities to vote out boards?

I really don’t comprehend the anger that so many people have for company directors and the like who are on multi-million dollar salaries. I mean, I understand the notion of not seeing how their office job could possibly be worth that much seeing as they get to sit in a nice air-conditioned office all day…but I don’t think people who have a problem with these salaries truly understand the nature of the work many of these people do, or how many people are affected by their position. These highly paid positions are enormously powerful and come with a great deal of responsibility…and as the saying goes, have you ever seen a poor man employing people?

The reason I mention this is that 2CC’s Mark Parton has written a blog post which knocked me off my feet, seemingly in support of changes to the Corporations Act which are being proposed by the Rudd government. To quote the relevant bits from Mark’s blog:

As I understand it, regular Joe investors will be given the power to sack entire company boards. I gather that ever director would be forced to stand down if as few as 20 percent of shareholders voted twice against executive salary packages…which may be a bit of overkill.

The big companies will be forced into greater transparancy and CEO’s will not be in a position to decide their own pay packets.

I understand that the report has dismissed calls to put a cap on how much CEO’s are paid.

We’ll see what gets put on the table later today. I think the mood is such that we need change in this area because a select few have just robbed us blind for far too long. It can’t continue.

Allan Moss formerly of Macquarie Bank is the most striking example. He was paid nearly $25 million in 2008. How can anyone be worth $25 million for a years work. That’s obscene !

I don’t usually get worked up enough to respond to Mark, but that kind of anti-business sentiment ruins economies, and it got me going (it probably didn’t help that I was already in an agitated mood). I have submitted by response to his blog, and am copying it here because I probably would have blogged about the subject anyway, and it saves me from writing another blog post about the same thing.

My response is below, in full.

I totally disagree. It’s called the free market, and directors are being paid whatever they’re able to be paid, just like the rest of us. In the case of Allan Moss, he was getting paid that much to deliver a strong return for investors, and in 2008 Macquarie had a 2.2 billion dollar profit before tax (1.8 after tax) which is a few hundred million dollars more than the previous year [1]. I’d say he earned his income.

As for the 20% can vote out a board…so much for a democracy. Hypothetically, why should I as a 60% or 70% owner of a company, be able to be overruled by a 20% minority…that’s like giving the Greens a pro-rata vote so that they’re equal to the Labor party in the legislative assembly even though they hold the least number of seats.

I agree in principle that directors shouldn’t be able to set their own remuneration without oversight from the shareholders (majority approval would be a working model), but I also believe that shareholders should also be able to vote to give the directors power of veto if that’s what the shareholders want.

The free market/capitalist system works when it’s allowed to work. Imposing socialist ideals on top of it such as income caps does nothing to incentivise people to work harder and help the business grow, which in turn leads to more employment, and more wealth for all, not just the people at the top of the pyramid.

[1]: Macquarie Annual Report (2009) page 230 http://www.macquarie.com.au/au/about_macquarie/acrobat/annual_report2009_MGL.pdf

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 06:57pm

YouTube spotlight on…Aussie music pirates?

It could be a subtle way of saying “we’re not going to listen to Universal Music Group’s complaints any more”, but I doubt it. The “spotlight” section on YouTube today is supposed to feature Australian music artists…

YouTube's Australian Pirates

The last time I saw a “spotlight” was on Talk Like A Pirate Day. It looks like somebody changed the spotlight title and forgot to change the contents.

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 02:15pm

When you sue for breach of contract, it helps if your contract was breached

A fact which former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has found out the hard way.

Rather sued CBS and its top executives in 2007, claiming he had been removed from his “CBS Evening News” anchor post over a report that examined President George W. Bush’s military service.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court — New York’s trial-level court — said the complaint “must be dismissed in its entirety.”

The five-judge panel ruled unanimously that a lower court “erred in declining to dismiss Rather’s breach of contract claim against CBS.”

The court said there was no breach of contract, because CBS still paid Rather his $6 million annual salary after the disputed 2004 broadcast under the “pay or play” provision of his contract.

On the other hand, perhaps it helps if, when filing lawsuits, you’re not being insanely greedy. He was being paid $6 million per year to do nothing and he still wants more? Go and get a job if you want more…oh wait, he did…he’s now the anchor for cable network HDNet.

If I were him, I’d just be happy that somebody still wants to employ me at age 77.

Samuel

September 30th, 2009 at 11:50am

Telstra repair Sydney CBD cables

Telstra have documented their efforts to repair the cables which were cut in the Sydney CBD by an Energy Australia contractor a few weeks ago, in a rather interesting video.

Even if I’ve achieved nothing else by watching this, at least I have seen another bit of the inside of a telephone exchange. One day I should ring Telstra and see how much I would have to pay for a guided tour of my local exchange.

Samuel

1 comment September 30th, 2009 at 11:37am

So what? Who doesn’t make up the occasional listener?

Britain’s broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, really are over-zealous. Over here in Australia, ACMA only make a noise if somebody goes through the long complaint process, and even then barely do anything…in the UK though, if you so much as sneeze, Ofcom will notice.

A community radio station has been censured by media regulator Ofcom for a “severe and unacceptable breach of listeners’ trust” after reading out fake listener texts on a pre-recorded music show.

Radio Hartlepool admitted making up listeners’ texts on some editions of its morning show, on its Classic 9 at 9 feature, which were pre-recorded but broadcast as live.

The show contained appeals for listeners to send in texts, but they had no chance of having them read out because the show was not live, said Ofcom.

The station said four out of six broadcasts of the show it had on record they had been pre-recorded.

Ofcom said it was “particularly concerned that, on all four occasions when the Classic 9 at 9 was known to be pre-recorded, fictitious references were made on air to listeners who had supposedly contacted the programme. This was a severe and unacceptable breach of listeners’ trust.”

And what’s to say that the texts weren’t read on a future pre-recorded show?

Seriously, who cares? It’s part of the theatre of radio, and sometimes an imaginary listener is a perfect instrument to drum up a bit of interest, especially when it puts a point not already put by somebody else that is worthy of consideration.

Pretending to run a live talk programme and soliciting for calls would be reprehensible, as there would be an expectation that the calls would be live and the listeners ringing in would have a chance of getting on the air. Text messages, emails and faxes on the other hand are static non-interactive content which, unless otherwise noted, aren’t necessarily going to get to air in the current broadcast, even if it’s live.

Admittedly Ofcom have a relatively immature competitive radio market to deal with when compared to other nations, but this sort of overreaction isn’t helping to nurture the radio market, instead it is helping to discourage it. If people don’t like their text messages being held over or not read, they will stop sending them…the station might notice that and see a problem…but as far as I can tell, people were still sending messages.

I don’t see a problem here, Ofcom’s reaction excluded.

Samuel

2 comments September 30th, 2009 at 10:49am


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