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Commonwealth Bank tells the whole story unlike Today Tonight

18 May 2007

On the Today Tonight programme of 16 May, a story was put to air which inferred that CommSec had given a customer access to another customers share investment.

This is not correct. CommSec inadvertently forwarded a certificate that could not be used for value to the wrong person. This was explained to Today Tonight in a letter forwarded to the programme at 12.44 pm on the afternoon of 16 May.

We are disappointed that Today Tonight misrepresented the true position and did not present its viewers with all the facts.

The following letter was forwarded to the Programme following the story:


Dear Sir

The inference in Today Tonight’s story about Banks on the evening of May 16th, as it related to CommSec, was misleading.

While it is true that a non transferable stock certificate was incorrectly sent to Mr Smith, at no stage was there any possibility that the funds could have been redeemed.

Nonetheless your story inferred that CommSec had given a customer access to the funds attached to another customer’s share investment. The scripting of both the story and the back-announce by Anna Coren gave the misleading impression that there was a chance money could have been redeemed had it not been for the honesty of the original recipient.

This is not correct and your reporter knew this five hours before going to air. A copy of this letter is attached. The facts provided in my letter in response to the programme’s request for comment were not reported in the story.

I would appreciate it if you would investigate this matter as it seems to me to be an obvious breach of journalistic codes and standards which require the media to report clearly and fairly a response to an allegation that is proposed to be aired on a programme. Your programme editors took the correct step of asking the Bank to comment, and then chose to ignore the facts in the comment received which would have largely negated the impact of the story.

I await your response to this matter as it is of real concern to the Bank.



Bryan Fitzgerald
General Manager
Media and Issues Management
Marketing and Communications
Telephone (02) 9378 2663
Mobile 0414 789 649