Media Release 39/2012 – 4 June 2012
The Nine Network did not breach any licence conditions under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) when it broadcast remarks criticising the government’s plan to introduce mandatory pre-commitment for poker machine gambling in the NRL First Preliminary Final on 23 September 2011.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) made extensive use of its formal powers under section 173(b) of the BSA to gather evidence for its investigation. Following analysis of this evidence, the ACMA found although the remarks were ‘political matter,’ they were not broadcast at the request of anyone other than Nine and therefore did not need to be ‘tagged’ with particulars such as the identity of the person authorising the material.
The ACMA also found that as Nine was not paid to broadcast the material, the material was not a ‘commercial’ and therefore did not have to be distinguishable from other program material as required by the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010 (the code).
Notwithstanding these findings, the investigation exposed some potential gaps in the existing code (which are touched on in the Investigation Report). The ACMA will raise these matters with Free TV Australia in anticipation of the industry’s next review of its code.
Nine did, however, breach the complaint-handling provisions of the code because it did not make every reasonable effort to resolve complaints made under the code.
The ACMA found that Nine’s responses to the complainants were misleading. Nine’s responses described the material broadcast as ‘purely the opinions of the commentators’ in one case, and ‘represent[ing] the opinions of the commentators’ in another. In fact, most of the material broadcast had been scripted by Nine management.
Nine is already subject to an Enforceable Undertaking regarding a number of aspects of its complaints handling. In response to these latest findings, Nine has agreed to enhance and extend the terms of this Undertaking. Additional measures will include oversight of complaint-handling by a nominated Nine director and Board-level exposure to regular complaint-handling reports documenting the network’s performance. The Undertaking will also be extended for an additional two years.
Investigation Report 2686 and background material on broadcasting complaints are available on the ACMA website.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Blake Murdoch on (02) 9334 7817, 0411 504 687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.