Radio licensee, 2SM Pty Ltd, breached the privacy provisions of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice when presenter, John Laws, read a man’s personal phone number on air.
Clause 2.3 (d) of the Codes provides that the licensee must not ‘use material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs, or which invades an individual’s privacy, unless there is a public interest in broadcasting such information.’
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that in a broadcast on 25 November, 2013, Mr Laws twice read out, on air, the full name and mobile phone number of a man who was critical of his program.
The ACMA did not accept the licensee’s argument that there was implied consent on the part of the complainant to the broadcast of his phone number. Furthermore, the ACMA did not accept that broadcasting the private details of the complainant was in the public interest.
For more information please see the Backgrounder below or contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 48/2014 - 20 August
The regulatory framework-broadcasting content regulation
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), Australian radio and television licensees have primary responsibility for ensuring that the material they broadcast reflects community standards. Many aspects of program content are governed by codes of practice developed by industry groups representing the various Australian broadcasting sectors. The ACMA registers codes (other than those of the national broadcasters, the ABC and SBS) once it is satisfied that broadcasters have undertaken public consultation and the codes contain appropriate community safeguards.
Some aspects of broadcasting are subject to licence conditions set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. For example, commercial, community and other radio and television stations are subject to a licence condition prohibiting them from broadcasting tobacco advertisements. The ACMA monitors matters relating to standards and licence conditions and investigates complaints from the public about compliance with them.
> must investigate complaints about compliance with licence conditions (sections 147 and 149 of the BSA)
> must investigate complaints about compliance with code obligations, where the complainant has complained to the licensee and is dissatisfied with its response (sections 148 and 149 of the BSA)
> must investigate such matters as it is directed so to do by the Minister for Communications(section 171 of the BSA)
> may, as matter of discretion, commence an 'own motion' investigation into such matters as it sees fit (section 170 of the BSA).
Additional information about and copies of the ACMA’s broadcasting investigations and copies of its published investigation reports are available here.
Responding to breaches
Where there has been a breach of the code, the ACMA may:
> agree to accept measures offered by the broadcaster to improve compliance (these measures can include educating staff or changing procedures to improve compliance with the rule(s)
> agree to accept an enforceable undertaking offered by the broadcaster for the purpose of securing future compliance with the rule(s)
> impose an additional licence condition.
The ACMA cannot ‘fine’ or ‘prosecute’ a broadcaster for breaching a code, or direct it to do any particular thing (such as broadcast a report of the ACMA’s findings).