A prominent media ethics expert criticized the decision of two mayors on the NSW-Victorian border to continue to co-host a commercial radio show.

Radio 2AY presenter Kylie King was unopposed mayor of Albury on Monday night, while her breakfast show co-host Kevin Poulton was elected mayor of neighboring Wodonga in 2020.

The election of two broadcasters as mayors has been described as “most unhealthy” by former journalist Denis Muller, honorary member of the Center for Advancing Journalism.

“In our system, the media exist to hold politicians to account, and they simply cannot hold themselves or their councils accountable independently or impartially,” said Dr Muller.

“This means that this program cannot control the council, cannot actually do one of the main jobs that in a democratic society we expect from the media, so it is obviously against the public interest.”

Denis Muller says the situation presents a conflict of interest.(Provided: Denis Muller)

Dr Muller said it was also important in regional areas to separate politics and media.

“We have seen how editorial staff are shrinking, especially in the regions, [there are] fewer and fewer voices.

ABC has contacted the ACE Radio network for comment.

A man and woman smile at the camera in a park, with radio promotion slogans pictured
A promotional photo of Kylie King and Kevin Poulton in 2020.(Facebook: Radio 2AY)

Work towards balance

Ms King said she and Mr Poulton would be able to responsibly balance the positions of the media and political power.

“How it worked with the role of Kev, all the Wodonga issues to do with the board, if we happen to have a guest on the show or discuss it, I took the lead on those interviews and Kev took a step back, “she said.

“I imagine it would be the same if an issue with Albury were to arise.

A man looks at the camera and stands in front of three information microphones.  A board panel is in the background.
Kevin Poulton was elected mayor of Wodonga in 2020.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Erin Somerville)

Dr Muller said this was not enough to reduce conflicts of interest or potentially stop the outright promotion of on-air advice.

“In our system, the powers of elected officials and the media intersect to the point where the media are supposed to hold these politicians to account and to the point where politicians have the power to provide or withhold information from the media,” he said. -he declares. noted.

“So you have this enlargement, if you will, of their positions of power and that is also unhealthy.”