The Australian Communications and Media Authority recently found two breaches of the rules about the broadcast of election advertisements. Both breaches occurred in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election.
Clause 4(2) of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires all election advertisements to include an announcement immediately following the advertisement of “required particulars”, including the name of every speaker in the advertisement.
The first breach concerned an election advertisement broadcast on radio C91.3 FM in Campbelltown NSW from 13-17 June and 20-28 June 2016, in which there was no announcement identifying Russell Matheson, then MP, as a speaker in the advertisement.
The second breach concerned an election advertisement broadcast on Southern Cross Television (SCTV) in Tasmania between 23 and 28 June 2016. There was no announcement identifying the Hon. Will Hodgman, MP, Premier of Tasmania, as a speaker in the advertisement.
The rule about broadcasting “required particulars” ensures that those involved in preparing and placing political advertisements are clearly identified to audience members. The rule aligns with similar requirements in the Commonwealth Electoral Act that apply to written and internet electoral advertisements.
Both the broadcasters involved have taken steps to ensure compliance into the future. The ACMA expects all licensees to have effective clearance and control procedures in place to ensure compliance with the election advertising rules.
Investigation reports BI-202 (C91.3 FM) and BI-208 (SCTV) are now available.
For more information please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media release 30/2016 - 2 September
The ACMA does not have a role in making or administering rules about the authorisation of electoral advertisements. Nor does it have a role in determining whether an election or political advertisement is misleading.
However, the ACMA does administer the rules in the Broadcasting Services Act about political and election advertising on television and radio. These rules apply to broadcasters, not to political parties or other advertisers.
Subclause 4(2) of Schedule 2 requires that, when broadcasting political matter at the request of another person, a broadcaster must cause the announcement of certain particulars in a form approved by the ACMA. The particulars required to be broadcast about political matter are defined in Clause 1 of Schedule 2 as follows:
- if the broadcasting was authorised by a political party:
o the name of the political party
o the town, city or suburb in which the principal office of the political party is situated
o the name of the natural person responsible for giving effect to the authorisation
- if the broadcasting of the political matter was authorised by a person other than a political party:
o the name of the person who authorised the broadcasting of the political matter
o the town, city or suburb in which the person lives or, if the person is a corporation or association, in which the principal office is situated
- 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.
The following is the approved form for announcement of the required particulars:
- if the political matter is broadcast by radio, the broadcaster shall cause the required particulars to be broadcast in the form of a spoken announcement
- if the political matter is broadcast by television, the broadcaster shall cause the required particulars (other than those contained in paragraph (c) of the definition of required particulars in clause 1 of Schedule 2) to be broadcast in the form of a spoken announcement, and cause all the required particulars to be broadcast in the form of images or words
- in all cases, the required particulars must be broadcast in the same language as the political matter.
In addition to the licence conditions, the broadcasting codes of practice contain provisions about accuracy and impartiality in the broadcast of news and current affairs. Election coverage by broadcasters must comply with these code requirements.
The ACMA also administers the rules in the Spam Act 2003 and the Do Not Call Register Act 2006.
The Spam Act prohibits the sending of ‘unsolicited commercial electronic messages’, including email, short message service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS) messages. Electronic messages authorised by certain bodies, such as a registered political party or a government body, are exempt from this prohibition.
Purely factual messages with no commercial content are also exempt, but the sender must include accurate information to identify the individual or organisation as the authorised sender of the message.
The Do Not Call Register Act provides that telemarketing calls authorised by:
- a registered political party
- an independent member of parliament
- a person who is a candidate for election for parliament, legislative assembly or local governing body
are designated telemarketing calls under the Do Not Call Register Act. They are exempt from the prohibition on making a telemarketing call to an Australian number registered on the Do Not Call Register.
Designated telemarketing calls that are exempt from the Do Not Call Register Act must nonetheless comply with the Telecommunications (Do Not Call Register) (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2007 in relation to prohibited calling times.
These rules are explained in more detail in the ACMA’s Election Guidelines.