Australian Media Watchdog Apologizes after Govt Regulator Rules it Broke Co

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Media Watch's Jonathan Holmes addressed the Sept. ACMA ruling in an Oct. 1 segment. (Credit: Media Watch, screenshot)

Australia’s Media Watch apologized after not contacting the Australian Daily Telegraph for comment in a 2011 report criticizing the Telegraph for “blatantly one-sided” reporting according to the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald. Media Watch identifies itself as “Australia’s leading forum for media analysis and comment.”

The Telegraph’s reporter Andrew Clennell complained to Australia’s Communications and Media Authority that Media Watch didn’t contact him and libeled him in its report that “criticised a story on poker machine reforms,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald and the Telegraph ACMA’s website explains that it is a “government agency responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications.” 

Media Spy noted that ACMA dismissed “a number of other complaints relating to inaccuracy and impartiality.” ACMA’s report explained that ACMA “has no jurisdiction to make findings that a person has been defamed, or to make any orders for redress for defamation, and that consqequently that aspect of his complaint would not be investigated.”

The Australian  added that ACMA said ABC would “acknowledge the ACMA’s breach finding on Media Watch and add an appropriate clarification to its online transcript of the particular episode.”

In an Oct. 1 segment, Media Watch’s Jonathan Holmes addressed the complaint.  Holmes said on air “I’m sorry” and “we and the ABC accept the umpire’s ruling” in response to a Sept. 28 Communications and Media Authority ruling, the Telegraph reported.

iMediaEthics wrote to Media Watch seeking any further comment about the ruling. Media Watchs’ Sally Virgoe directed iMediaEthics to the Media Watch segment on the ACMA ruling, available here.

The Telegraph noted that “It was the first time since ACMA was formed in 2005 that Media Watch has been found to be in breach of the ABC code of practice.”

The Sydney Morning Herald added that ABC’s standards dictate “where allegations are made about a person or organisation, the ABC will make reasonable efforts in the circumstances to provide a fair opportunity to respond.”

ACMA media manager Emma Rossi told iMediaEthics that the authority has no “further comment” about the ruling but directed us to the ACMA Annual Report and ACMA’s website for more information.

According to ACMA’s Annual Report:

“The ACMA received 2,273 written complaints and enquiries about commercial, national and community broadcasters, and investigated licensees’ compliance with codes of practice, licence conditions, standards and the Broadcasting Services Act … During 2011–12, the already high number of complaints received about online content increased further to a total of 5,026, a three per cent increase on 2010–11.”

iMediaEthics has written to the Daily Telegraph for comment and will update with any response.

Last year, Media Watch apologized for its 1991 claims that a journalist faked an interview, as iMediaEthics wrote  at the time. The apology said the journalist, Angela Pearman, “did not, as Media Watch alleged, deceive her audience.”


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Australian Media Watchdog Apologizes after Govt Regulator Rules it Broke Code

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