"Why did it take eight months for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to decide about an episode of Packed to the Rafters last September – and then impose no penalty, even though Channel 7 had breached several sections of the TV Code?” asked Ros Phillips, national research officer for FamilyVoice Australia.
“I was relieved to learn this morning that ACMA has upheld my complaint about this program. My written complaint merely echoed the concerns of many viewers who phoned Channel 7 in September, upset that the episode contained sex scenes and themes with a considerably higher impact than they expected from a PG program.
“Channel 7 publicly apologised to these viewers last year – but was clearly unrepentant. The station refused to accept ACMA’s initial ruling in March that Code breaches had occurred, and argued strongly that the guidelines had been followed,” Mrs Phillips said. “SAS 7 has got off scot free – so it and other stations will presumably not be too worried about sailing close to the line in future.”
Ros Phillips has called for a change in the Broadcasting Act, to give ACMA more resources and more teeth, and to allow complaints to be made to ACMA more readily.
“I had to jump through many hoops to get my complaint accepted,” Mrs Phillips said. “You need to put it in writing to the station – phone complaints don’t count. Then you have to wait about six weeks for the station to respond – and in my experience, the station never admits they’ve done the wrong thing. Then you have to jump through more hoops to persuade ACMA to investigate. You have to know the TV Code and be a real bush lawyer to succeed.
“To get a complaint accepted, and then upheld, is a major achievement,” Ros Phillips said. “Then to find that there is no penalty is a big anti-climax. There’s got to be a better way!”
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