Jacqui Felgate blames ‘oversight’ for undisclosed commercial deals

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3AW radio presenter Jacqueline Felgate has been forced to address criticism surrounding the lack of disclosure to listeners of her numerous commercial arrangements.

Felgate, who had been one of a number of fill-in hosts in the afternoon slot this year before being announced earlier this month as the new host of Drive from next January, told listeners on Wednesday that the failure to disclose her arrangements with a range of sponsors was “due to a genuine oversight by the station”, adding that 3AW was “aware of these arrangements”.

Jacqui Felgate, who will take over the Drive slot on 3AW from next January.Credit: Instagram

“As part of my transitioning to a new role the commercial disclosure register was not updated on its website,” she said, seemingly laying blame at the feet of station management. “3AW has now taken steps to fix that.”

The commercial agreements section of the 3AW website now lists 15 brands and organisations with which Felgate has a commercial relationship, largely off the back of her social media presence. Felgate’s list of disclosures is significantly greater than the number of all other 3AW presenters combined.

Felgate’s disclosed commercial agreements are with: Ceres Life, Chadstone Shopping Centre, All Kinds, Melbourne Racing Club (MRC), La Roche-Posay, Villawood Management, Chemist Warehouse, Racing Victoria (Off The Track), Smile Solutions, NAB AFL Auskick, Maybelline, BMW, Fine-Day, Melbourne Airport, and GlobeWest. The value of those relationships has not been disclosed.

In its own statement issued on Wednesday, station owner Nine (which also owns this masthead) said it had been “in the process of preparing Ms Felgate’s commercial agreements for disclosure” when News Corp published the first in a series of stories claiming the Australian Communications and Media Authority was “investigating” it for a suspected breach of the Commercial Radio Disclosure Standard.

The ACMA, which administers the standard, has confirmed through a spokesperson that while it has written to Nine seeking information on the matter no investigation was underway.

The disclosure standard stipulates that “all licensees who broadcast current affairs programs must keep a register of commercial agreements [which] must be publicly available on the licensee’s website, and accessible via a link on the licensee’s homepage”.

However, it also notes that “the obligations to publish details of commercial agreements on a licensee’s online register do not apply to … a part-time presenter”, which is defined as one who is on air for three hours a week or less in any four-week period. Felgate’s fill-in duties are understood to have exceeded that threshold.

Felgate has 266,000 followers on Instagram where, she claimed in her statement on air on Wednesday, she is fully transparent about those deals.

“I have always only promoted products and services I believe in and have always disclosed when I’ve been paid to promote something,” she told listeners. “Any commercial arrangements have always been clearly disclosed on my Instagram page – there for all to see.”

There is no list of those arrangements on her Instagram page, though individual posts are tagged #ad where appropriate. Whether or not the failure to disclose those arrangements to listeners was anything more than an innocent oversight, it has angered at least one of Felgate’s high-profile stablemates.

Sydney presenter Ray Hadley, whose morning program on 2GB is the top-rating show in the city, told The Australian that he had told management “I wasn’t happy” about Felgate’s deals, and that he “got the feeling they’re as distressed about it as I am”.

“I don’t think it’s good for any of our reputations,” he added. “I certainly don’t think it’s good for any of us.”

Meanwhile, the ACMA is investigating another Nine radio presenter for a suspected breach of the standard.

Ben Fordham, 2GB’s breakfast presenter, claimed on air in early August that he had taken up Uber driving as a “side hustle” in a tough economy. He even claimed to have received a $3 tip from his first passenger. Fordham had a personal commercial relationship with Uber Australia Pty Ltd which was disclosed on 2GB’s website, but not on-air at the time.

The standard stipulates that “on-air disclosure announcements must be made by presenters at the time of and as part of the broadcast of material during a current affairs program that promotes or favours sponsors, or their products or services”.

The ACMA confirmed to The Guardian last week that it is currently investigating Fordham and Nine for a possible breach. Nine declined to comment while the investigation was underway.

Contact the author at [email protected], follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin, and read more of his work here.

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