Radio 6PR Perth Pty Ltd, the licensee of 6PR in Perth, has breached the complaints-handling obligations of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice and Guidelines 2013 (the code).
The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s investigation concerned two complaints by a 6PR listener about a 14 September 2016 broadcast that aired on 6PR Mornings. The complaints were sent via fax to 6PR and later via 6PR’s website online complaint form. No response was provided by the licensee.
Code 5.5 of the 2013 Code requires that the licensee use its best endeavours to respond to complaints within 30 business days of receipt.
In addition, code 5.5 creates an unqualified obligation on licensees to conscientiously consider and respond substantively to a complaint made in accordance with the code.
The licensee advised the ACMA that the failure to respond to these complaints within the required timeframe was the result of oversights and internal technical errors with its online complaint system.
It has also advised that it has taken action to address the problems identified and to prevent a similar incident occurring in future.
A new Commercial Radio Industry Code of Practice commenced on 15 March 2017. Clearer complaint-handling procedures are a key community safeguard provided in the new code.
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Media release 18/2017 - 8 May
Audience complaints play an important role in the co-regulatory process. Broadcasters and the ACMA understand that complaints about broadcasting services provide valuable feedback on content and enable licensees to be responsive to community.
The 2013 Commercial Radio Codes contained safeguards for consumers and the complaints-handling procedures expected of commercial radio licensees. The new code improves these safeguards and streamlines procedures for making and responding to complaints, for example, by encouraging online complaints and by providing an express complaint mechanism for people with a disability.
The provisions dealing with complaints-handling in the 2017 code are independent from the other provisions in the code and may be the sole subject of an investigation by the ACMA.
Where there has been a breach of the code, the ACMA may:
- agree to accept measures offered by the broadcaster to improve compliance. These measures can include educating staff or changing procedures to improve compliance with the rule(s)
- agree to accept an enforceable undertaking offered by the broadcaster for the purpose of securing future compliance with the rule(s)
- impose an additional licence condition.
The ACMA cannot ‘fine’ or ‘prosecute’ a broadcaster for breaching a code, or direct it to do any particular thing (such as broadcast a report of the ACMA’s findings).