ACMA whack 2GB again

Staff Writer

Following their failed appeal over the new regulations from ACMA over disclosure of advertising relationships (here), 2GB is again in trouble with ACMA.

Harbour Radio pty ltd, who is the licensee of 2GB, is reviewing its compliance processes to identify shortcomings after they were found to be in breach of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice 2010.

The focus of the review will be 2GB's compliance processes across the programming and production teams concerning factual accuracy and the presentation of 'significant viewpoints'.

Once 2GB has completed this review, ACMA will discuss the findings with the radio station.

ACMA has found that 2GB breached the codes by failing to use reasonable efforts to ensure that factual material on the Alan Jones program was reasonably supportable as being accurate. The specific instance was on 15 March 2011 when Jones stated that human beings produce 0.001% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said; ‘The Authority found that this was presented as a statement of fact, it was not substantiated by the licensee and there was no evidence that reasonable efforts had been taken to ensure that it was reasonably supportable as being accurate—as required under the codes. "Reasonable efforts" is more than merely providing production resources, researchers and writers’.

Additionally ACMA found that 2GB had, on several occasions, failed to comply with the codes’ complaints-handling provisions. [2597, 2614 & 2636,2674 & 2717]. These findings were made following investigations into a number of complaints against 2GB concerning the following;

  • a segment of The Alan Jones Breakfast Show broadcast on 15 March 2011 (dealing with factual accuracy and significant viewpoints) [2597, 2614 & 2636]
  • segments of The Alan Jones Breakfast Show broadcast on 29 and 30 June 2011 and 6, 11, and 12 July (dealing with incitement of violence, incitement of hatred or contempt, generally accepted standards of decency and significant viewpoints) [2674 & 2717]
  • a segment of The Chris Smith Afternoon Show broadcast on 11 and 17 March 2011 (dealing with significant viewpoints) [2639].

The ACMA found no breach of the ‘significant viewpoints’ obligation in the codes. Even though each of the particular 2GB programs offered only a single (critical) viewpoint on the Australian Government’s carbon tax proposal, the evidence from 2GB showed that it had presented different viewpoints on this controversial issue across similar programs in its schedule. This is sufficient for the licensee to meet its code obligation.

In two investigations [2674 & 2717], the ACMA found that while Mr Jones made very disrespectful and disparaging comments about the Prime Minister and others in public office (for example, ‘Put [them] in the same chaff bag … and throw them both out to sea’), they did not amount to a breach of the prohibitions on:

  • broadcasting indecent material
  • inciting violence or brutality
  • inciting intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule on the grounds of gender or disability.

Chapman said; ‘These were wide-ranging and unusually complex investigations. We were responding to multiple complaints concerning eight different 2GB broadcasts and against eight clauses of the codes, with 2GB’s submissions requiring a further consideration of an additional 12 broadcasts,

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