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Adelaide breakfast radio rivals trade blows

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It wasn't quite the Jay and Josh slugfest, but the competition between breakfast radio rivals ABC Radio Adelaide and FIVEaa this morning took a combative turn over one presenter's $5000 payday from the State Government.

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The key antagonists were the ABC’s Matthew Abraham and FIVEaa’s David Penberthy, with Abraham questioning the commercial station’s independence on the topic of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The Government this week released a “virtual tour” video of the new RAH, presented by FIVEaa’s Jane Reilly – who does weather and other spots on Penberthy and Will Goodings’ breakfast  program.

The Government confirmed to InDaily today that Reilly had been paid $5000 for her work on the video, which provides a glowing assessment of the hospital’s promise of “world-class healthcare in a modern and flexible healing environment”.

Abraham today questioned the editorial independence of his commercial rivals, with an angry Penberthy responding that the criticism of Reilly was “stupidly cruel”.

“Interesting to see on the FIVEaa Twitter feed yesterday, Jane Reilly gets a sneak peek inside the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,” Abraham said on his breakfast program today.

“Jane Reilly is on the road for FIVEaa, she’s pictured on the Breakfast team’s website, Twitter Feed, as ‘in the studio with them as an integral part of the show’.”

Abraham said the fact Reilly was paid for her work on the “very slickly produced five-minute video” was “not declared anywhere in the video”.

“Interestingly – and Jay Weatherill re-tweeted the video, because it’s a State Government video – in the Jay Weatherill version of the virtual tour of the hospital the State Government branding the crest is at the end of the video. That’s not at the end of the FIVEaa sneak peek with Jane Reilly video. Interesting. As we know, commercial regulators in the past have looked at not just this station but others – not just FIVEaa, but other stations in terms of the blurring and commercial and I suppose, news values, and we just leave that for, well we’ll just leave it on the table I suppose.”

FIVEaa, which today published on its website a version of the video with the State Government logo visible at the end, hit back in furious fashion.

“Hey so how’s this: apparently that miserable so and so, Matthew Abraham, who works at the ABC has had a big crack at our beloved Jane Reilly,” Penberthy said on-air today.

“Now I would have thought Jane would have to be easily the nicest person ever to have worked in the South Australian media. She is universally loved and it’s for that reason that the State Government has slung her a small amount of money to cover her time and it was extensive, to do some of the promotional work around the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“… and anyone who has spent more than 10 seconds listening to this show would not say for an instant that we have been even close to a soft touch when it comes to the treatment that the State Government gets. You know you think about the Koutsantonis interviews lately, some of the sprays that we’ve had with him and with Jay Weatherill, but I just reckon picking on, picking on Jane, over something like that, it’s just so stupidly cruel…

“… the funniest thing about it is that these two guys, Matthew Abraham and, and his partner David Bevan who is an excellent journalist and a really nice person, someone I used to work with at The Advertiser, between them they get almost $300,000 a year in government payments. It’s called their salary.

“So for them to be sitting there up in their … luxurious taxpayer-funded suite at Collinswood taking pot shots at Jane for having the werewithal to get off her backside and do a bit of wholly legitimate promotional work… I mean Matthew Abraham, he’s paid $149,000 a year by the taxpayers, and David Bevan who is the likeable one, he is paid $134,000 a year.

“Talk about sittin’ in a glass house throwing rocks in the wrong direction.

“I tell you, if you want to go to war with Jane Reilly, you are way behind in the public relations department already, because unlike you Matt, people actually like her. And you know, this is, if you keep acting like a miserable sod you’ll end up getting’ numbers like the ones you got a few days ago.”

That final line indicates why there’s so much spice in the debate.

The first radio ratings survey for the year was released this week, and it shows that Abraham and Bevan have retained their long-standing lead in the breakfast slot.

However, Penberthy and Goodings closed the gap, putting on 1.7 points, while Abraham – flying solo while Bevan was on leave – lost 0.5 points.

The ABC leads the shift with 16.3 per cent of listener share, followed by FIVEaa on 14.7.

Disclosure: The author is an occasional unpaid guest on ABC Radio Adelaide breakfast’s “spin cycle” segment.

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