Privacy and TV networks

Julie Flynn, CEO of Free TV Australia, writes: Re: “Essential: Abbott in positive territory; who cares about cabinet women?” (yesterday). In the absence of any context, it’s difficult to understand what personal information respondents to the Essential Research question believed free TV networks may have about them.

The facts are comprehensive privacy rules and regulations already apply to commercial free-to-air television broadcasters, which are subject to serious sanctions in the event of a breach. These protections include: a broad range of state and Commonwealth statutes; extensive provisions in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); and the ACMA’s own privacy guidelines, which apply to all broadcasters, not just television networks.

Commercial TV broadcasters, along with other organisations, will also be bound by the new privacy rules that take effect in March of next year. This high level of protection for individuals is reflected in the very low level of privacy-related complaints: in the four years to March 2013, only 3.2% of complaints received by commercial television broadcasters were related to privacy issues and only six complaints were upheld by the ACMA.

Recalcitrant children running the country

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Scott Morrison and his marionette set sail for secrecy” (yesterday). Bermard Keane in successfully excoriated Scott Morrison and his hapless general (who should never have been put in a political role in the first place, but soldiers have to obey). As he says, the Coalition has a fact and truth problem, and it has in a few days:

  • Sacked some very able senior public servants with more to follow soon, sending a message on the mindless obedience on which they insist;
  • Removed Professor Tim Flannery’s “Fact, reporting on climate change”, but failed to silence him;
  • Scrapped the Major Cities Unit as reported by Alan Davies, who suggests it’s because of ideology; and
  • Dismissed the board on the NBN, which Denise Marcos writes in Tuesday’s letter should be renamed as the National Broadband Knitwork.

It would appear that in addition to keeping Australians as uninformed as possible the Coalition is appointing sycophants as advisers, who will be too terrified or ambitious to tell the government hard facts — “yes men”. In this Coalition MPs resemble small children who, when confronted with reality, put their little hands over  their ears and scream. “It’s not true, it’s not happening and I don’t wish to know that.” They even seem to have put their mates at the Oz offside, which is quite an achievement.

From Keane’s article (and others in Crikey) it looks as though we will have an interesting journey over the next three years under our new Abbott management team. Crikey will have a rich field for its articles.

A boon to Brighton

John Allison writes: Re. “Toot toot to the marginal seat” (yesterday). The Victorian government is spending $4.4 million on upgrading the New Street railway crossing in Brighton, and it should be finished by Christmas. Think about this if you’re sitting in your car at those hopelessly congested crossings in Clayton, St Albans, Preston, Cheltenham, or some of those inner-city streets:

  • New St was ranked 223rd on the state priority list of level crossings in need of upgrading;
  • It’s in the Honorable Louise Asher’s seat of Brighton;
  • The government blew $2 million on  a feasibility study to see if it was worth building an underpass …which could have come in at around $15 to $20 million; and
  • New Street isn’t exactly a major north-south route.

It virtually gives affluent Brighton residents easier access to Beach Road. Let’s just hope the 30-odd residents who’ll use the road are indebted to Asher.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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