Decency – Where does one draw the line today?

Staff Writer

Last week the industry regulator ACMA released a discussion paper: “Investigation concepts Decency, classification, and harm and offence – Where does one draw the line today”.

The paper (all 77 pages), covers both radio and television.

When it comes to commercial radio, it showcases previous ACMA and even the older Australian Broadcasting Authority findings and decisions from various investigations over the years to backbone the discussions moving forward.

Who stands out the most?

Kyle and Jackie O. You can take your pick:

The Kyle & Jackie O Show – “a segment broadcast on a breakfast show in which a 14-year-old girl was questioned live-to-air about a range of matters, including her sex life, while attached to a lie detector.”

The Kyle & Jackie O Show’: “the presenters referred to comments made by a caller during the ‘Is it normal segment?”

The Kyle & Jackie O Show:“derogatory comments made about a female journalist.”

And with Kyle’s recent “Gerbil” spat with Federal Minister Barnaby Joyce, ACMA is now investigating.  But we won’t mention the Kyle and Jackie O “I think they dropped the C-Bomb” story we had last week as this very discussion paper was released by ACMA.

But K&J are not alone.

Alan Jones gets a mention around “disrespectful comments made about holders of public office”. Chris Smith for his Asylum Seekers T-Shirt comp, Bob Francis from his time. Even Triple M’s Porn Star Competition got a jernsey.

But AMCA has highlighted the term ‘decency’ as not being defined in the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.

In their paper ACMA positions the use of the ordinary English meaning of “Decency” from a dictionary (which they have always done) and they quote:

The word Decency does make a fleeting appearance in the Commercial Radio Code of Practice and Guidelines in section 1.3.

In their introduction ACMA talks about “the careful balancing that is required in broadcasting codes.”

“On the one hand, it is important to provide Australian adults with the freedom to access content of their choice. On the other hand, the community expects safeguards about material that may be inappropriate, harmful or offensive to others.”

They also touch on broadcaster “Freedom of expression” , but also the need to “respect community standards in relation to the content of programs broadcast.”

Does the code require a re-think that reflects today’s community standards?

Have we crossed the “Decency” line too often in recent years between acceptable and unacceptable?

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