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Channel Nine News breaches privacy rules

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Channel Nine breached broadcasting rules when three Nine News reports disclosed the residential address of two police officers.

The reports, which aired in October 2019, described a vehicle crashing into a house and disclosed that the residents were police officers. The reports also identified the house number and street name – with one report also including the name of the suburb.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the investigation found Channel Nine breached privacy rules under the Television Industry Code of Practice.

“Privacy breaches of this nature can cause a lot of distress to those impacted,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“The combination of the three reports intruded on the privacy of these officers when there was no public interest in doing so.”

Under the Code, TV broadcasters are not permitted to broadcast material that invades a person’s privacy unless there is a public interest reason or consent has been given from an individual to do so.

The ACMA investigation found significant safety reasons for not disclosing the residential addresses of serving police officers.

“Broadcasters know the rules and have a responsibility to follow the Code. This incident is a reminder that broadcasters must make careful assessments about information they disclose in reporting,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Channel Nine has removed the material from their online platforms and apologised to the persons involved for any distress caused. In addition, Nine has undertaken to reiterate relevant Code obligations and the breach finding with relevant news and current affairs staff to ensure future compliance with the industry code.

MR 40/2020

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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