Harbour Radio Pty Limited, the licensee of Sydney radio station 2GB, breached the accuracy obligations in the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice 2011 in two broadcasts of the Alan Jones Breakfast Show.
Code 2.2(a) requires licensees, in the preparation and presentation of current affairs programs, to use reasonable efforts to ensure that factual material is reasonably supportable as being accurate.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found 2GB did not make reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of:
- comments made by Mr Jones on 17 October 2012 about power station closures (Investigation 2962). Here, the sources relied on by 2GB were contradicted by primary material readily available on the website of the owner of the power stations, and
- comments made by Mr Jones on 23 October 2012 about salaries paid in the Department of Climate Change (Investigations 2952, 2953 and 2954). Here, there was no evidence of 2GB’s efforts to ensure the accuracy of the comments.
A third complaint about the accuracy of comments made by Mr Jones on 29 October 2012 concerning the NBN and other matters was not upheld (Investigations 2947 and 2960). The ACMA found the comments broadcast were statements of opinion. The ‘accuracy’ obligation in the codes applies only to factual material.
The ACMA also found two breaches by 2GB of its complaints-handling obligations.
In Investigations 2952, 2953 and 2954, 2GB submitted that it was not obliged to respond to a complaint it considered frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of the complaints process. The ACMA did not accept this submission as the Codes require licensees to provide a substantive response to a complaint, including information about the complainant’s right to refer the matter to the ACMA.
In Investigations 2947 and 2960, 2GB submitted that it did not receive the complaint. However, the complainant provided the ACMA with a fax transmission report showing that the complaint had been successfully sent to 2GB.
In these two matters the ACMA found that 2GB was obliged to give a substantive response and breached the code when it failed to do so.
A link to the Investigations can be found here.
The ACMA is in discussions with 2GB about remedial measures.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response to accuracy-related code breaches found by the ACMA in 2012 (including comments made by Mr Jones concerning the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), 2GB reviewed and revised its fact-checking processes.
These two code breaches are the first accuracy-related code breach findings in respect of the Alan Jones Breakfast Show since that process review.
The breaches follow a recent accuracy-related breach finding in respect of 2GB’s Ray Hadley Morning Show.
The ACMA investigates alleged code breaches upon receipt of a complaint from someone who has raised their concerns directly with the broadcaster and is dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response or does not receive a response.
Where there has been a breach of the Codes, the ACMA may:
- agree to accept measures offered by the broadcaster to improve compliance – for example educating staff or changing procedures
- agree to accept an enforceable undertaking offered by the broadcaster for the purpose of securing future compliance
- depending on the circumstances, impose an additional licence condition.
The ACMA cannot ‘fine’ a broadcaster for breaching a code, or direct it to do any particular thing or take any particular action (such as broadcast a report of the ACMA’s findings).
Finally, the ACMA notes that its regulatory relationship is only with the broadcasting licensee and not with any individual presenter.
Media release 80/2013 - 23 October