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News Article


ABC horror scene breaches TV Code
Wednesday, March 16, 2011


“I was relieved to learn that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has upheld my complaint against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for a program screened last September containing a graphic violent horror scene,” Ros Phillips, FamilyVoice Australia research officer, said today.

Mrs Phillips said the program, Waking the Dead – Magdalene 26, was part of a crime fiction series.  It included a scene showing a full-frontal naked man hanging upside down from the ceiling above a pool of blood, with his eyes and mouth eaten by maggots.   The ABC had classified it merely as “M”, indicating that the impact of the horror scene was not high.

“I strongly disagreed with this classification,” Ros Phillips said.  “But the complaint process is long and complex – like most viewers, I was tempted to do nothing.  I resisted that temptation, however – and complained to the ABC.”

Broadcasters almost always reject complaints, and this was no exception.  On 16/11/10, the ABC insisted that the naked horror scene merely had “some” impact, and the program was correctly classified “M”.

Ros Phillips persevered, taking her complaint to ACMA on 24/11/10.  The investigation was delayed when the ABC supplied ACMA with incorrect program content.  When this error was eventually corrected, ACMA finally ruled, on 16 February 2011, that the ABC had breached clause 6.2 of the ABC Code of Practice.

“I have only just received this advice today – one month later,” Mrs Phillips said.  “There was no indication that any action has been taken against the ABC as a result of this proven breach – and I have received no apology of any kind from the ABC.

“There has not even been a slap on the wrist with a limp lettuce leaf!  Is there any guarantee that our public broadcaster, using our taxes, will do better in future?” Ros Phillips said. 

“Sadly, I’m not holding my breath.”

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