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Network Ten breaches rules about political matter

Network Ten’s Perth licensee has breached the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) by not broadcasting the ‘required particulars’ following the broadcast of political matter. Required particulars include the name of the person or organisation who authorised the broadcast.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority investigated the broadcast on 7 September 2016 of an advertisement for ‘notbornyet’, a campaign run by the organisation Emily’s Voice.

The ACMA investigation followed a complaint that the advertisement constituted political matter and that the required particulars had not been broadcast immediately afterwards, in accordance with the standard licence condition in Schedule 2 to the BSA.

The ACMA found that the advertisement constituted political matter as it sought not only to influence the personal choices made by people experiencing an unwanted pregnancy but also to influence public opinion about abortion and its regulation, as part of the political process.

The BSA requires that all broadcasting licensees must cause the required particulars to be broadcast immediately after they broadcast political matter at the request of another person. Political matter is not confined to material broadcast in the context of an election campaign.

This ensures that:

  • listeners and viewers are informed about who is trying to persuade them to think or to act in response to political matters
  • people authorising this type of material are accountable for it.

It is important to note that the rules do not seek to prevent the publication of material, merely to ensure transparency as to its origins.

In response to the ACMA’s findings, the licensee has undertaken to work with Commercials Advice at Free TV to incorporate the finding into the commercials review process and training in relation to advertising.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 6/2017 - 9 March

Backgrounder

Relevant legislation

Schedule 2 to the BSA: Standard conditions

4 Identification of certain political matter

  1. If a broadcaster broadcasts political matter at the request of another person, the broadcaster must, immediately afterwards, cause the required particulars in relation to the matter to be announced in a form approved in writing by the ACMA.

Clause 1 provides definitions of ‘person’, ‘political matter’ and ‘required particulars’:

    person includes a political party, a corporation and any other association (whether incorporated or unincorporated).

    political matter means any political matter, including the policy launch of a political party.

    required particulars, in relation to a political matter that is broadcast, means:

    1. if the broadcasting was authorised by a political party:
      1. the name of the political party; and
      2. the town, city or suburb in which the principal office of the political party is situated; and
      3. the name of the natural person responsible for giving effect to the authorisation; and
    2. if the broadcasting of the political matter was authorised by a person other than a political party:
      1. the name of the person who authorised the broadcasting of the political matter; and
      2. the town, city or suburb in which the person lives or, if the person is a corporation or association, in which the principal office of the person is situated; and
    3. the name of every speaker who, either in person or by means of a sound recording device, delivers an address or makes a statement that forms part of that matter.

     

7 Conditions of commercial television broadcasting licenses

  1. Each commercial television broadcasting licence is subject to the following conditions: […]
      j. the licensee will comply with the requirements of clauses 3, 3A, 4, 5 and 6;

Last updated: 09 March 2017

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