Check the regulatory codes
The media has TWO main regulators in Australia:
– The ‘Co-Regulator’ for TV: The Australian Communications and Media Authority
– The ‘Self-Regulator’ for print & online media: The Australian Press Council
ACMA – Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice
- News and Current Affairs
1.1 Scope and Interpretation
1.1.1 Except where otherwise indicated, this section applies to news Programs (including news flashes and updates) and Current Affairs Programs.
1.1.2 Compliance with this Section 3 must be assessed taking into account all of the circumstances at the time of preparing and broadcasting the material, including:
- a) the facts known, or readily ascertainable, at that time;
- b) the context of the segment (or Program Promotion) in its entirety; and
- c) the time pressures associated with the preparation and broadcast of such programming.
1.2 Material which may cause distress
1.2.1 In broadcasting a news or Current Affairs Program, a Licensee must:
- a) not include material which, in the reasonable opinion of the Licensee, is likely to seriously distress or seriously offend a substantial number of viewers, having regard to the likely audience of the Program, unless there is a public interest reason to do so; and
- b) include a spoken warning before a segment that contains material which, in the reasonable opinion of the Licensee, is likely to seriously distress or seriously offend a substantial number of viewers having regard to the likely audience of the Program; and
- c) not broadcast reports of suicide or attempted suicide unless there is a public interest reason to do so, and exclude any detailed description of the method used, and exclude graphic details or images; and
- d) exercise sensitivity in broadcasting images of or interviews with bereaved relatives or people who have witnessed or survived a traumatic incident; and
- e) have regard to the feelings of relatives and viewers when including images of dead bodies or people who are seriously wounded, taking into account the relevant public interest.
1.3 Accuracy and fairness
1.3.1 In broadcasting a news or Current Affairs Program, a Licensee must present factual material accurately and ensure viewpoints included in the Program are not misrepresented.
1.3.2 Clause 3.3.1 applies to material facts and material misrepresentations of viewpoints only.
1.3.3 Licensees must make reasonable efforts to correct or clarify significant and material errors of fact that are readily apparent or have been demonstrated to the Licensee’s reasonable satisfaction in a timely manner.
1.3.4 If a Licensee makes a correction in an appropriate manner within 30 days of a complaint being received or referred to the ACMA (whichever is later), then the Licensee will not be in breach of clause 3.3.1 in relation to that matter.
1.3.5 A correction under clause 3.3.4 may be made in one or more of the following ways:
- a) during a later episode of the relevant Program;
- b) on a Licensee’s news website;
- c) on the official website of the relevant Program; or
- d) any other way that is appropriate in the circumstances.
1.4.1 In broadcasting a news Program, a Licensee must:
- a) present news fairly and impartially;
- b) clearly distinguish the reporting of factual material from commentary and analysis.
1.4.2 Nothing in this Section 3 requires a Licensee to allocate equal time to different points of view, or to include every aspect of a person’s viewpoint, nor does it preclude a critical examination of or comment on a controversial issue as part of a fair report on a matter of public interest.
1.4.3 Current Affairs Programs are not required to be impartial and may take a particular stance on issues.
1.5.1 In broadcasting a news Program or Current Affairs Program, a Licensee must not broadcast material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs or which invades a person’s privacy, unless:
- a) there is a public interest reason for the material to be broadcast; or
- b) the person has provided implicit or explicit consent for the material to be broadcast (or in the case of a person under 16, a parent or guardian has given implicit or explicit consent).
Note: The broadcast of material that is publicly available or recorded in a public place will generally not be material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs or an invasion of privacy.
3.5.2 For the purposes of clause 3.5.1, a Licensee must exercise special care before broadcasting material relating to a Child’s personal or private affairs in a report of a sensitive matter concerning the Child.
1.6 Program Promotions for news and Current Affairs Programs
1.6.1 In broadcasting a Program Promotion for a news or Current Affairs Program, a Licensee must comply with this Section 3 as far as practicable, having regard to its brevity.
A Licensee is not required by this clause to portray all aspects or themes of a Program or Program segment in a Program Promotion, or to represent all viewpoints contained in the Program or Program segment.
ACMA – Subscription Broadcast Television Code of Practice
2.2 News and Current Affairs Programs
(a) News and current affairs programs, including news updates, broadcast by Licensees must:
(i) present news accurately, fairly and impartially;
(ii) clearly distinguish the reporting of factual material from commentary, analysis or simulations;
(iii) not simulate news or events in a way that misleads or alarms the audience.
(b) In broadcasting news and current affairs programs to the extent practicable Licensees:
(i) must not present material in a manner which creates public panic;
(ii) must include only sparingly material likely to cause some distress to a substantial number of viewers;
(iii) must exercise sensitivity in broadcasting images of, or interviews with, bereaved relatives and survivors or witnesses of traumatic incidents;
(iv) will take all reasonable efforts to provide warnings when there are identifiable public interest reasons for broadcasting material which may seriously distress or seriously offend a substantial number of viewers;
(v) will only broadcast reports of suicide or attempted suicide where there is an identifiable public interest to do so and will exclude any detailed description of the method used and any graphic details and will not glamourise suicide in any way; and
(vi) will make reasonable efforts to correct significant errors of fact at the earliest opportunity.
(c) In broadcasting news and current affairs programs Licensees must not use material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs, or which invades an individual’s privacy, other than where there are identifiable public interest reasons for the material to be broadcast.
Australian Press Council – Statement of Principles
Accuracy and clarity
1. Ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading, and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion.
2. Provide a correction or other adequate remedial action if published material is significantly inaccurate or misleading.
Fairness and balance
3. Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.
4. Ensure that where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply if that is reasonably necessary to address a possible breach of General Principle 3.
Privacy and avoidance of harm
5. Avoid intruding on a person’s reasonable expectations of privacy, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
6. Avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
Integrity and transparency
7. Avoid publishing material which has been gathered by deceptive or unfair means, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
8. Ensure that conflicts of interests are avoided or adequately disclosed, and that they do not influence published material.