2Day and the ACMA back in court

Staff Writer

The royal prank call case between 2Day FM and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) returned to the Federal Court this morning.

Last time they were in court, in November, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the ACMA, allowing them to conclude its investigation into 2Day FM and its handling of the royal prank call.

SCA then lodged an appeal over that decision.

That investigation has apparently been completed with the watchdog finding that the station breached the NSW Surveillance Devices Act when it broadcast the prank call in late 2012.

Southern Cross Austereo counsel Noel Huntley SC today argued that the ACMA was acting ”as both the accuser and the fact finder” and was going beyond its statutory powers.

Huntley said: “To say that this matter goes to fundamental matters of legality goes without saying. Our rights are affected by an administrative decision which we cannot challenge.

“This case has the potential of exposing my client to the serious disgrace of a criminal finding. There is also no time limit for bringing prosecution under the (NSW Surveillance Devices) Act.”

Neil Williams SC, acting on behalf of the ACMA, said: “The ACMA is not an investigatory body it is a regulatory body, that is critical. The ACMA is a statutory body and might not be subject to the (criminal) rules of evidence…..conviction by a criminal court in one, two or three years would say nothing to the power of ACMA conferred on it by the Parliament.”

Williams also said that if SCA employees had committed criminal offences during their employment then the employer would also be liable, and therefore the ACMA had oversight.

“Even if it was done by the staff of a broadcaster it would be the licensee who would be committing the offence."

A decision on the matter is expected by the end of next week.

Read more in Mumbrella.

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