Plausible denial from the ABC

Oh dear – the ABC has been very naughty. Picking up on the Fairfax media’s no-actual-new-data-from-the-Treasury story the ABC radio PM show ran a story that quoted the “Treasury data” without:

  1. Naming a Treasury official.
  2. Quoting a Treasury official.
  3. Citing a Treasury document.

Again the argument that Treasury data show a decline in 2013 clearances over 2012 clearances. To be fair to the ABC, unlike Fairfax, they approached BAT and PMI for comment. PM, however, then claims that both British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International “failed to respond by the time we went to air”. Curious. Even more curious is Mark Colvin’s ending – all of a sudden Philip Morris did respond and the response will be on the ABC website. But not actually broadcast – so 99% of listeners will never know what PMI said. They will just have heard that “Treasury data” reveal smoking is down.

Update: PHILIP MORRIS LIMITED FULL STATEMENT:

While we don’t know the full detail of Treasury’s tobacco clearances from their statement, from Philip Morris’ perspective, the final quarter of 2012 saw an artificially high rate of tobacco clearances due to our replacement of branded stock on retailers’ shelves with plain packaged stock. Whilst this was not double-counted from an industry sales perspective as it was replacement stock, it would have initially been double-counted from a 2012 tobacco clearances perspective as tax must be paid on every pack. Most claims for refunds of the excise paid on our recalled branded stock were not processed until the first quarter of 2013.

Assuming a similar approach by other companies, it’s therefore not surprising that Treasury’s tobacco clearances in 2013 may have been below inflated 2012 clearances, nor is it incompatible with industry data that shows a 0.3% / 59 million stick increase in actual sales for the 2013 calendar year.

Heh – double counting. How bad is that? Probably net figures too. So 2012 artificially high and 2013 artificially low.

Update II: Last night the ABC was tweeting this story about and so I tweeted this story to them and Mark Colvin.

Okay – that sounds plausible enough. Yet it isn’t good enough. The ABC AM and PM audience is meant to be sophisticated. In addition it is the ABC’s job to explain complex ideas … like double counting. In any event, they could have gotten someone else on to explain what has happened. If the story was too complex to cover in the time allocated then they should have run something else. As it was they had plenty of time to interview anti-smoking lobbyists yet no time to explain why the “new Treasury data” should be treated with some caution, if scepticism. Similarly, if the Philip Morris statement did arrive after the story was recorded but before it went to air, it should have been pulled.

Knowingly going to air with a half-story that misleads the audience is never acceptable.

Update III: Mark Colvin tweets a response:

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24 Responses to Plausible denial from the ABC

  1. Tom

    Snic, you need to spell out who are BAT and PMI. I suspect they are British American Tobacco and Phillip Morris International. But, yes, you are correct about the propaganda tactics being used here. Yet another example of the ABC sacrificing fairness and accuracy in its reporting of news and current affairs to support a particular political position. You can bet there will be no follow-up on the issue of data accuracy and integrity.

    [Good idea. Will do. Sinc]

  2. stackja

    Will BAT and PMI get an apology?

  3. Cold-Hands

    Will BAT and PMI get an apology?

    Maybe in six months in small print in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard”…

  4. Bruce of Newcastle

    I’ll underline what I said before.

    The data is incomplete because there is no analysis of the black market.

    The legal changes in the last couple of years, of plain packaging and increased excise both logically lead to more people choosing black market cigarettes, which even before those changes may have been a quarter of the market.

    You cannot say tobacco consumption has fallen unless you measure both the legal and illegal markets. Therefore the ABC and their slimy fellow travellers are purposefully misleading the Australian public. They are doing so because PP is Roxon’s policy and they are protecting their gal.

    An that is yet another exhibit why the lying ABC should be closed immediately.

  5. Percy

    Maybe in six months in small print in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard”…

    LOL.

  6. Snoopy

    Posted at the end of the PM transcript.

    MARK COLVIN: And Philip Morris has issued a statement this evening claiming the Treasury data was not incompatible with industry data. The full statement from Philip Morris will be on PMs website.

    PHILIP MORRIS LIMITED FULL STATEMENT:

    “While we don’t know the full detail of Treasury’s tobacco clearances from their statement, from Philip Morris’ perspective, the final quarter of 2012 saw an artificially high rate of tobacco clearances due to our replacement of branded stock on retailers’ shelves with plain packaged stock. Whilst this was not double-counted from an industry sales perspective as it was replacement stock, it would have initially been double-counted from a 2012 tobacco clearances perspective as tax must be paid on every pack. Most claims for refunds of the excise paid on our recalled branded stock were not processed until the first quarter of 2013.

    Assuming a similar approach by other companies, it’s therefore not surprising that Treasury’s tobacco clearances in 2013 may have been below inflated 2012 clearances, nor is it incompatible with industry data that shows a 0.3% / 59 million stick increase in actual sales for the 2013 calendar year.”

    Oh dear.

  7. Sinclair Davidson

    Heh – double counting. How bad is that? Probably net figures too. So 2012 artificially high and 2013 artificially low.

  8. bobby b

    ” PHILIP MORRIS LIMITED FULL STATEMENT”
    .
    Was this truly a Limited Full Statement? Wouldn’t it more appropriately be termed a Limited Full Limited Statement?
    .
    Arguably, the most accurate characterization would be that it was a Limited Full Limited (Full) Statement (Limited.) But that might not express the intended meaning as clearly as does “Limited Full Statement.”

  9. Sinclair Davidson

    Bobby – that is a cut and paste from the ABC website, take it up with them.

  10. johno

    Knowingly going to air with a half-story that misleads the audience is never acceptable

    You are assuming that the Left’s ABC believes it should abide by its Charter to provide fair and balanced reporting.

    This is BIG Tobbacco we are talking about here. They are just guilty, regardless of the facts. The Left has a moral obligation to punish them, especially if they haven’t actually done anything wrong.

  11. struth

    Malcom, you are a disgrace and I don’t think I go too far in saying you are a traitor to those who put you there.

  12. A Lurker

    Amazing that so much that is wrong with Australia stems from the ABC.

    They are the conduit of lies, propaganda, misinformation and smears.

  13. H B Bear

    Mark @Colvinius – the ALPBC’s poor mans’ Stephen Fry and a moral leader of the staff co-op.

    Not surprised there were timing impacts around well flagged legislative changes. Seem to recall there was some issue with retailers being caught with unsalable branded stock after the plain packaging date too.

    ALPBC bias is even more galling on so-called flagship programs such as the Green-Left Weekly Radio Hour (Late Edition) formerly known as PM.

  14. Roger

    As it was they had plenty of time to interview anti-smoking lobbyists yet no time to explain why the “new Treasury data” should be treated with some caution, if scepticism.

    Usual Their ABC modus operandi; why are you surprised, Sinc?

  15. Baldrick

    As Terry McCrann says, in this piece from the Herald Sun:

    When you put economists Henry Ergas, Judith Sloan and Sinclair Davidson up against the Kouk, it really is unfair to, well, “visionaries”. Equally, journalist Kerr versus Pascoe and Dyer.

    Add to that the entire behemoth called the ABC, and as McCrann points out:

    This exactly parallels the stupid-dishonesty claim by the warmists that the last 15 years as a group were hotter than the previous 15 years.

  16. .

    The ABC basically have taken on the worst features of media management from the US Government when it has abused power. What do we expect? They’re a government outfit in a Western nation after all.

  17. motherhubbard'sdog

    Knowingly going to air with a half-story that misleads the audience is never acceptable.

    What? Haven’t you heard of “whatever it takes”?

  18. Andrew

    So the Kouk and his enablers aren’t capable of understanding that introduction of plain packaging might have seen bring forward of sales due to overstocking inventory??? Wow. And Gillard make the Kouk effectively the Chief Economist for Australia. Wow.

  19. Judith Sloan

    Treasury’s view of the excise data was always that they are unreliable and move around too much to be helpful. This arises because the excise is paid by the wholesaler and is payable at the point it leaves the warehouse, not at the point of purchase.

    When there are returns, refunds, inventory swings – these figures are just not useful in a short term time series sense.

  20. Tom

    Mark Colvin: … as radio, quite impossible.

    Sinc predicted that this half-arsed story would be allowed to stand without on-air follow-up. Another breach of the charter on fair and balanced reporting. The number of strikes against the ABC, especially since AbbottSatan gave the ABC carte blanche to smear his government, is increasing, but nothing will be done about it until Lord Wentworth is removed from the ministry, probably in 2015.

  21. thefrollickingmole

    Shades of how the ABC reported on Immigration detention centres, they used the same organization “spokesman” over and over despite 90%+ of his wild allegations being blatant falsehoods.
    But that didn’t matter the ABC could use a “source” to say the wildest of lurid untruths and it was the sources fault for telling them.
    Similar with this, it wouldn’t matter at this stage if the story was shown to be incorrect the ABC has successfully done its “duty” in finding a cut out to parrot its own views through.

    On a similar note I caught a large chunk of a show on radio national which was “the refugee 4 hours” on Sunday evening. They are doubling down on the stupid and just don’t give a shit about mainstream Australia.
    Part of the show was a panel whining neither of the 2 big political parties had a pro-refugee platform, the words missing
    Numbers to take
    Greens
    Cost.
    Instead they were waxing lyrical about the money being spent on overseas processing being spent turning Tasmania into a state wide IRPC with unlimited numbers…

    Shut it down
    pyramid of skulls made out of staff
    Salt the earth it stood on.

  22. john constantine

    make one of the abc television channels “bbc australia”. make bbc australia the only channel the public broadcaster can show bbc content on.

    let bbc australia run advertising like sbs does.

    drive a wedge between the abc, and those that love the abc for doctor who, and the lovely old style bbc serials.

  23. JohnA

    @SincDavidson They gave us the statement (late in the piece) and refused to supply anyone for interview.

    — Mark Colvin (@Colvinius) June 24, 2014

    Could refused be Colvin-speak for “they couldn’t get anyone to meet our deadline” ?

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