Louise Benjamin, Authority Member, ACMA: Where do you draw the line


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This presentation was given by ACMA Authority member, Louise Benjamin, at the ACMA's Citizen conversation about Decency.

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Louise Benjamin, Authority Member, ACMA: Where do you draw the line

  1. 1. Where do you draw the line?Miss Louise Benjamin,Authority Member, ACMA
  2. 2. Why do we have codes of practice?> Broadcasting Services Act 1992 established co-regulatory environment> Section 123 of the Act states that industry groups willdevelop in consultation with the ACMA applicablecodes of practice> s123(2) of the Act states that codes may relate to:(a)Preventing the broadcasting of programsthat, in accordance with communitystandards, are not suitable to bebroadcast by that section of the industry
  3. 3. Why Contemporary communitysafeguards inquiry?> Each industry group has a different approach> Incremental changes to codes over the last 20 years> Industry codes are regularly, but separately, reviewed> Technological shifts – time for more holistic +principles-based examination
  4. 4. What do the Codes have incommon?> Community standards [Commercial Radio,Community Radio]> Community attitudes [Commercial Radio]> Offend [Commercial Radio]> Decency [Commercial Radio]> Harm or offence [ABC]> Appropriate [SBS]> Acceptable [SBS, ANRA, ASTRA]> Distress or alarm [Community Radio]
  5. 5. Why Code protections?> Freedom of speech> Community expectations> Protection of children> Making an informed choice
  6. 6. ACMA investigations> Need to consider• The objects of the Broadcasting ServicesAct 1992• Code requirements (including relevantguidelines)• Previous ACMA and relevant courtdecisions• ‘Accepted community standards ofdecency’• Demographic characteristics
  7. 7. ‘Accepted community standards ofdecency’> Refers to the current consensus of recognisedpresent day standards of propriety> Such standards are not hard and fast either over timeor across all sections of the community> Determining the current consensus of recognisedpresent day standards of propriety is not an easy task
  8. 8. Case studies> 2DAY – The Kyle & Jackie O Show• Broadcast 29 July 2009• 14 year old girl questioned about her sexualhistory while attached to a lie detector• Breach of 1.5(a) of the CRA Codes• Inappropriate to ask a child about their sexualactivity• Manner of the segment that offendedcontemporary standards of decency i.e.sensationalise and render as mere entertainment
  9. 9. Case studies> 5AA – Bob Francis• Broadcast 4 and 6 June 2012• Comments about asylum seekers anddisparaging language he used with respectto a female journalist• Breach of 1.5(a) of the CRA Codes• Disregard for numerous fatalities andcumulative effect of his comments offendedstandards of decency
  10. 10. Case studies> 2GB – Chris Smith Afternoon Show> Broadcast 1 June 2012> Segment dealing with condoms and Ugandanathletes was highly offensive and contravenedcommunity standards> No breach of 1.3(a)> May have been offensive to the complainantpersonally the ACMA finds that the content broadcastdid not offend against generally accepted standardsof decency
  11. 11. Enforcement and compliance> Range of powers> Graduated approach – response commensurate withthe seriousness of the breach> Encourage voluntary compliance> Informal resolution> Administrative action> Civil and criminal action
  12. 12. Compliance and enforcement> 16 May 2012 the ACMA imposed an additionallicence condition on 2DAY> Elevated the code provision in relation to decency toa condition on 2DAY’s licence> Term : Five years> Conditions:o In respect of the programs Hot30 Countdown and The Kyleand Jackie O Show or any other radio program presentedlive to air by Kyle Sandilandso Staff trainingo In respect of The Kyle & Jackie O Show, employ twocontent monitors, and maintain 30 second delay
  13. 13. Compliance and enforcement> 2DAY breach resulted in:• New policies and procedures• Additional licence condition – treatment ofunderage participants in programming, includingthat the welfare and wellbeing of the child isparamount> 5AA breach resulted in:• Suspension• Additional training• On-air apology
  14. 14. Core principles> What do we need to consider?• Do we still need code interventions?• Is the ‘accepted community standards’ testeffective?• How should the ACMA determine?• Demographic characteristics – significant?• Consumer advice?
  15. 15. Community action> Switch off> Pressure advertisers> Social media campaigns