Yesterday the Australian Communications and Media Authority found channel Seven’s Today Tonight breached the code of practice. Here is what the ACMA said:

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Channel Seven Brisbane Pty Ltd, the licensee of BTQ, breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2004 (the code) by failing to present factual material accurately. ACMA’s findings relate to a segment broadcast in Today Tonight on 20 August 2007 and its associated promotion broadcast on the same day.

The segment, titled “Unfair Fares”, reported on the alleged dishonesty of migrant taxi drivers from non-English speaking backgrounds.

ACMA decided that Seven breached the code in relation to statements made about migrant taxi drivers using language as a barrier to cover instances of dishonesty. It also found that a statement made by an interviewee passenger on the quality of a taxi service was not presented accurately in the program promotion.

ACMA found that Seven did not breach the relevant parts of the code in relation to gratuitous emphasis on race and the provocation or perpetuation of hatred of a group of persons on the grounds of race.

Seven has advised ACMA that in recognition of the breach findings, a copy of investigation report 1909, together with an explanation of the decision, will be provided to relevant staff and senior management and will form part of Seven’s code training sessions which are attended annually by all relevant staff.

ACMA is more generally currently engaged in discussions with the free-to-air commercial television industry about current affairs programs and code compliance, with particular emphasis on factual accuracy and the fair representation of viewpoints (clause 4.3.1 of the code). In light of these discussions, ACMA does not, at this stage, propose to take any further action in relation to this matter.

The full investigation report 1909 is available on the ACMA website here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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