ACMA media release 41/2013 – 7 June
WIN Television NSW Pty Ltd (WIN TV) breached two provisions of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice in a news report on WIN News Illawarra about measles vaccination that misled its audience.
The report was broadcast on 16 August 2012 and concerned an outbreak of measles in south-western Sydney.
Included in the story was the following unqualified statement made by a non-expert: ‘All vaccinations, in the medical literature, have been linked with the possibility of causing autism...’
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that by broadcasting that statement and by conveying a higher level of controversy and uncertainty about immunisation than was justified by the facts, WIN TV had failed to broadcast factual material accurately.
‘The story would have misled an ordinary viewer about the level of risk of vaccinating children,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
The ACMA also found that WIN TV did not make reasonable efforts to correct the significant error of fact.
‘While the ACMA has no power to direct the making of an on-air corrective statement, given the circumstances of this case and the important public health issues involved, the ACMA recommended to WIN TV that it make an on-air statement concerning the ACMA’s findings,’ added Mr Chapman.
The licensee has, however, declined to take this opportunity to clarify on air this important public health issue, one which no doubt remains of ongoing concern to its audience and the wider Australian public. The licensee offered to provide a link on its website to the ACMA’s finding.
A link to investigation report 2883 can be found here.
For more information please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.