The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Festival City Broadcasters Pty Ltd (FIVEaa) breached provisions of the Commercial Radio Code of Practice relating to decency and complaints-handling arising out of two separate broadcasts of the Bob Francis program in June of last year. A link to investigation #2848 can be found here
The findings were made after Mr Francis made extremely insensitive comments wishing asylum seekers would drown, in addition to using coarse, disparaging language about a female journalist.
On 4 June, 2012, Mr Francis said (in the context of a wider discussion on the issue of boat people), ‘Bugger the boat people I say. As far as I’m concerned I hope they bloody drown out there on their way over here!’ The ACMA found these comments to have conveyed a contemptuous disregard for the numerous fatalities that have occurred at sea.
Two days later, on 6 June, Mr Francis launched an on-air, personal attack on a journalist who had criticised the comments, as well as personally identifying her by name and job title. The ACMA found that these comments had a strong cumulative effect and also offended standards of decency.
The licensee suspended Mr Francis for six days (8-14 June, 2012) in the wake of the comments. Mr Francis also received additional training regarding the decency provisions of the Code.
Following its breach finding, the ACMA recommended that, in addition to these remedial actions, an on-air apology be made to the journalist attacked as it considered an apology as the appropriate measure in this matter. In response to this recommendation, Mr Francis made an on-air apology to the journalist which was read on the 21st March, 2013.
The ACMA commends FIVEaa for acting on the ACMA recommendation.
FIVEaa also breached the complaints-handling provisions of the code.
The ACMA found that the licensee did not breach the code relating to the incitement of hatred or serious contempt of a person or group of people on the grounds of nationality or gender.
For more information please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org