8 December 2006
ACMA invites public submissions as part of review of reality television programming
As part of its investigation into whether the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice provides appropriate community safeguards with respect to reality television programming, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has published a discussion paper outlining issues on which it seeks public comment.
Submissions are invited from interested parties on the questions presented in the discussion paper. These include:
- does reality television programming raise issues of community concern?
- does the code reflect community standards with respect to reality television?
- are the existing code mechanisms operating effectively to provide appropriate community safeguards with respect to reality television programming, including with respect to classification distinctions and consumer advice requirements?
- does the code provide appropriate community safeguards with respect to the broadcast of reality television program excerpts in news and current affairs programs?
- is the complaints mechanism in the code operating effectively and in a timely manner in relation to reality television?
The discussion paper is available on the ACMA website.
The closing date for providing submissions is Thursday 1 February 2007. Instructions as to how to make submissions are provided in the discussion paper.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980.
Reality television review
Earlier this year, the Minister for Communications Information Technology and the Arts announced her intention to direct ACMA to review the operation of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice with respect to reality television programming, sector, following an incident in the Big Brother house earlier this year.
This investigation is being undertaken pursuant to a Direction from the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. The Broadcasting Services (Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice) Direction No. 1 of 2006 was issued pursuant to section 171 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
ACMA is required to provide the Minister with its final report and recommendations by 1 April 2007.
In tandem with the formal public consultation process, ACMA is also undertaking quantitative and qualitative research into community concerns with reality television programming, as well as liaising directly with industry stakeholders.
The code specifies that all material for broadcast, other than news, current affairs and sport, should be classified. It sets out the classification criteria, from G to MA, and the time zones for each classification criteria throughout the viewing day. The current code was registered in June 2004, and is due for review again commencing in June 2007.
Big Brother is a reality television program broadcast by Network Ten in which a group of participants share a house for approximately three months. The participants’ behaviour and interactions are captured by cameras 24/7.
The program includes a competitive element whereby viewers weekly vote out participants (known as "housemates") who have been nominated by their fellow participants. The final participant remaining in the house wins a cash prize.
In terms of material broadcast on television, Big Brother consists of a suite of programs broadcast in various classification zones, using different portions of the footage available.
As well as television content, Big Brother comprises other elements including a website through which material is streamed live from the Big Brother house, and content delivered via mobile phones.
The Big Brother series is broadcast "annually" by Network Ten. The 2006 series was its sixth season.
The Minister’s announcement on the review of the code relating to reality television followed advice from ACMA on an alleged incidence of sexual harassment in the Big Brother house, which was streamed live via the Big Brother website on 1 July 2006.