What ACMA’s win may mean for SCA

Staff Writer

With the High Court giving AMCA the green light this morning, it will pave the way for the authority to not only publish the report into the 2012 2Day FM prank call but to potentially enforce additional license considerations, or perhaps worse against 2Day FM in Sydney.

Chris Chapman who is ACMA's Chairman has said publicly: “This decision is welcomed by the ACMA.

“It provides clarity regarding the operation of the licence condition that prohibits broadcasters from using their broadcasting service in the commission of an offence.”

The High Court’s judgment this morning went on to say:

“It is the Authority's function to monitor and regulate broadcasting services throughout Australia. There is no incongruity in empowering the Authority to take administrative enforcement action against a licensee who uses the broadcasting service in the commission of an offence, whether the offence is against Commonwealth, State or Territory law.

Nor is it incongruous that the Authority may suspend or cancel a licence based upon its determination that the broadcasting service has been used in the commission of an offence notwithstanding the licensee's (or a third person's) subsequent acquittal of the offence. The court trying the criminal offence is required to determine guilt upon admissible evidence beyond reasonable doubt.”

For Southern Cross Austereo, the license holder of 2Day FM, if ACMA finds them in breach of their license, it may see them have further license conditions imposed, be taken off-air with a suspension or cancellation, have remedial directions or being required to accept enforceable undertakings.

In 2012 Today Networks’s Mel Greig and Michael Christian impersonated Prince Charles and The Queen. The call saw them put through to the ward of the Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated for morning sickness. The nurse who put the call through tragically took her own life.  In its findings ACMA ruled the station had breached the law by broadcasting the call without the consent of the other party.

In August 2014 ACMA was allowed to appeal the Federal Court decision, and today they were successful in having that Federal Court decision overturned.

SCA has slammed the High Court decision and stated it will back industry moves to have the laws changed.

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