Foxtel breaches rules about political matter | ACMA

Foxtel breaches rules about political matter

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Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited (Foxtel) has breached the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) by not broadcasting the ‘required particulars’ following the broadcast of political matter. Required particulars include the name of the person or organisation who authorised the broadcast.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority investigated the broadcast on 13 February 2017 of promotions from The Equality Campaign’s ‘Marriage Equality: It’s only fair’ series. These promotions comprised a 30-second advertisement broadcast on Sky News Live during a program break in The Bolt Report and a 13-second information ticker looped across the bottom of the screen alongside news headlines and sports results.

The ACMA investigation found that the advertisement and ticker constituted political matter because they sought to influence public opinion about the issue of marriage equality. Further, they were broadcast at the request of another person (Australian Marriage Equality Limited) and no particulars were broadcast. These matters were not disputed by Foxtel, which indicated that the absence of the required particulars was inadvertent.

The rules for broadcasting political matter do not seek to prevent the publication of material but rather seek to improve transparency and accountability in relation to political messaging. Further, political matter is not confined to material broadcast in the context of an election campaign.

In response to the ACMA’s findings, the licensee has undertaken to work with producers of programming and associated advertising sales agents in relation to the broadcasting of political matter, and has implemented additional compliance controls to ensure channels not owned or operated by Foxtel meet the political advertising obligations.

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

Media release 9/2017 - 28 March

Backgrounder

Relevant legislation 

Schedule 2 to the BSA: Standard conditions

4   Identification of certain political matter

  1. If a broadcaster broadcasts political matter at the request of another person, the broadcaster must, immediately afterwards, cause the required particulars in relation to the matter to be announced in a form approved in writing by the ACMA.

Clause 1 provides definitions of ‘person’, ‘political matter’ and ‘required particulars’:

person includes a political party, a corporation and any other association (whether incorporated or unincorporated).

political matter means any political matter, including the policy launch of a political party.

required particulars, in relation to a political matter that is broadcast, means:

  1. if the broadcasting was authorised by a political party:
    1. the name of the political party; and
    2. the town, city or suburb in which the principal office of the political party is situated; and
    3. the name of the natural person responsible for giving effect to the authorisation; and
  2. if the broadcasting of the political matter was authorised by a person other than a political party:
    1. the name of the person who authorised the broadcasting of the political matter; and
    2. the town, city or suburb in which the person lives or, if the person is a corporation or association, in which the principal office of the person is situated; and
  3. the name of every speaker who, either in person or by means of a sound recording device, delivers an address or makes a statement that forms part of that matter.

10 Conditions applicable to subscription television broadcasting licences

  1. Each subscription television broadcasting licence is subject to the following conditions:
  2. […]

    1. the licensee will comply with the requirements of clauses 3, 3A, 4 and 5;

Last updated: 27 March 2017