ACA breach A Current Affair breaches code | ACMA

ACA breach A Current Affair breaches code

TCN Channel Nine’s A Current Affair has breached three clauses of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice in a broadcast which:

  • contained inaccurate factual material (clause 4.3.1)
  • placed a gratuitous emphasis on ethnic origin (clause 4.3.10)
  • was likely to provoke intense dislike and serious contempt on the grounds of ethnic origin (clause 1.9.6).

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s findings follow its investigation of complaints regarding a story titled ‘All-Asian Mall’ about changes at a Sydney suburban shopping centre, which aired on 7 November 2012.

The ACMA does not have the power to direct TCN to make an on-air statement acknowledging the findings. However, the ACMA recommended to TCN that, in all the circumstances, it make such a statement and that it also remove the segment from Channel Nine’s website. 

In a move welcomed by the ACMA, TCN has agreed to both actions.

‘I commend TCN for acting on the ACMA’s recommendations,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘The broadcaster is to be congratulated for taking a mature approach to matters of such concern, and for being transparent with its viewers.’

The on-air statement will be made tonight, 13th September.

For more information, please see Backgrounder below or contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 65/2013 - 13 September


Backgrounder

The ACMA found that segments in the All-Asian Mall story inaccurately conveyed that:

  • Asian speciality shops would occupy ‘almost all’ of the lower level of the Castle Mall in Castle Hill. (In fact, the plan was that four of 16 retailers were to be Asian speciality shops.)
  • ‘Aussie shopkeepers’ had been forced to move out to make way for new retailers targeting the suburb’s Asian population. (In fact, the new retailers were being introduced because other shops had already closed down.)
  • Centre management’s plan was to force other retailers to vacate the mall entirely by ‘kicking them out’. (In fact, the plan was to relocate them within the mall.)
  • The butcher ‘had to move’. (In fact, the butcher was not affected by the plan.)

The ACMA also found that the story portrayed people of Asian ethnicity in a negative light by placing gratuitous emphasis on Asian ethnicity in contrast with Australian nationality. In addition, the story was likely to have provoked intense dislike or serious contempt by broadcasting:

  • negative misinformation about Australians of Asian ethnic origins
  • inflammatory language and visuals generating feelings of threat from people of Asian ethnic origins
  • language implying that Australians of Asian ethnic origins did not belong in Australia.

However, the ACMA found that the licensee had not breached clause 4.3.2 of the code (create public panic) as there was no evidence that the broadcast caused fear or terror in the community.

The ACMA’s powers in relation to a code breach are as follows. [OR can be found on the ACMA website.]

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).

Last updated: 14 April 2016