6 September 2007
ACMA registers Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, permitting additional political advertising during election periods
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has registered a revised version of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice. The code has been amended at clause 5.6 to permit an additional minute per hour of political non-program matter to be broadcast between 6:00 pm and midnight during election periods.
'ACMA is satisfied that the commercial free-to-air television industry peak body, Free TV Australia, has fulfilled the requirement for public consultation on this matter as set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992,' said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. 'Based on the evidence provided from submissions, there was no strong view that the proposed amendment would result in a lessening of community safeguards during an election period.'
Free TV Australia, the commercial free-to-air television industry peak body, proposed this amendment as a clarification. The effect of this clarification is to specify that licensees may broadcast an additional minute of political non-program matter between 6:00 and midnight during election periods (as already permitted under clause 5.7.2). Under the previous version of the code, broadcasting this additional minute would breach restrictions regarding the average amount of non-program matter, which applied without distinction between election and non-election periods.
Details regarding the amendment are available on Free TV’s website, www.freetv.com.au.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980.
The free-to-air commercial television networks are governed through a co-regulatory scheme. This scheme takes form in an industry-created code of practice that gives effect to their legislative obligations, including under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), and is registered with ACMA.
The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice includes Television Classification Guidelines that apply to programs other than films, news, current affairs and sport. It sets out the criteria for G, PG, M, MA and AV classifications, and also defines material that is not suitable for broadcast. The code also specifies the time zones in which programs classified other than G can be broadcast.
In addition, the code regulates the broadcast of program promotions, news and current affairs programs, non-program matter, commercials and community service announcements and complaints handling procedures.
Free TV is reviewing other aspects of its industry code of practice, a process that will continue into 2008. The code was last reviewed in 2004.
Requirements for registration of a code of practice
Under section 123(4)(b) of the BSA, ACMA must register a code of practice if it is satisfied that:
- the code of practice provides appropriate community safeguards for the matters covered by the code; and
- the code is endorsed by a majority of the providers of the broadcasting services in that section of the industry; and
- members of the public have been given an adequate opportunity to comment on the code.