24 January 2007
ACMA finds 2GLA Forster breached code in handling a complaint
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found Great Lakes Area FM Community Radio Ltd, the licensee of community radio station 2GLA Forster, New South Wales, breached the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice in the way it handled a complaint about comments made in the Easy Listening program broadcast on 29 May 2006.
ACMA found the licensee of 2GLA breached clauses 7.3 and 7.4(b) of the code, in that it did not make every reasonable effort to resolve the complaint and did not ensure the complaint was conscientiously considered and investigated.
ACMA considered that the complainant’s letter of 16 June 2006 had set out his concerns in sufficient detail for the licensee to consider, investigate and make every reasonable effort to resolve the complaint, without appearing to make it a condition that, if the matter was to be progressed, the complainant supply information which ACMA considered irrelevant to the substantive issue raised.
ACMA also found that the licensee of 2GLA had breached clause 7.4(c) of the code. Under clause 7.4(c), licensees are required to include a copy of the code with their responses to complaints. The licensee had not provided the complainant with a copy of the code.
The licensee has stated that, in response to the findings, it has made changes to the way it handles complaints to ensure the board of the licensee of 2GLA is aware of all complaints received and has an opportunity to review how complaints are addressed.
ACMA considers that the licensee’s actions address the compliance issues raised by the investigation and will continue to monitor the licensee’s performance in this regard.
A copy of investigation report #1753 is available on the ACMA website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
ACMA conducts various types of investigations under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act). Investigations under Part 11 of the Act are conducted in response to complaints received by ACMA relating to a possible breach by:
- a licensed broadcaster of the Act, the regulations, a licence condition, a class licence or a code of practice; or
- the ABC or SBS of a code of practice.
If a person wishes to complain about something of concern they have seen or heard on a program broadcast by a radio or TV station, and the matter is covered by a code of practice, the person must, by law, first make a written complaint to the station.
However, if a complaint relates to a matter covered by a licence condition, the person can complain directly to ACMA and need not complain to the station first.
There is a different code of practice for each broadcasting sector, and each code of practice contains a section that explains the complaints process that applies to that sector.
As some codes impose time limits for complaints, it is advisable that persons who wish to make a complaint write to the radio or TV station as soon as possible. For instance, the code of practice that applies to commercial television broadcasters enables them to decide to not respond in writing to complaints that are made more than 30 days after the date of broadcast.
When making a complaint to ACMA, persons must provide a copy of their complaint to the station, a copy of the station’s reply if this has been received, and any other relevant correspondence with the station. ACMA takes all complaints seriously (except for those that are frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith) and acknowledges in writing all complaints.
For qualifying complaints, ACMA considers the information provided and offers the relevant station an opportunity to provide its perspectives. When all relevant information is available, ACMA assesses the complaint against the relevant licence condition or code of practice. When an investigation is completed, ACMA is required to notify a complainant of the results of an investigation under Part 11 of the Act. The form this notification is to take is not specified in the Act – sometimes it is in the form of a letter, but more usually it takes the form of a more formal investigation report, which is provided to both the complainant and the licensee concerned.
Under the Act, ACMA has discretion whether or not to publish the report of an investigation conducted under Part 11 of the Act. ACMA is not required to publish an investigation report if publication would disclose matter of a confidential character or likely to prejudice the fair trial of a person. If ACMA intends to publish an investigation report that may adversely affect the interests of a person, ACMA must give the person an opportunity to make representations in relation to the matter.