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Australia Censorship News

2011: Jan-March

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31st March   

Update: Kyle Riles...

Australian media censor censures the Kyle and Jackie O Show
Link Here

Australian radio personality, Kyle Sandilands made derogatory and offensive comments about a female journalist that amounted to a breach of the radio code of practice, Australia's media censor has judged.

Last November Sandilands called a journalist a piece of shit and a fat slag and told her to watch your mouth or I'll hunt you down after she reported on the negative reaction to his TV show the night before.

His derogatory comments, made on November 22, are believed to have cost his employer, Southern Cross Austereo, about $10 million in sponsorship, with advertisers walking from the 2Day FM's Kyle and Jackie O Show in disgust.

The ACMA has begun formal steps to impose a second licence condition on the broadcaster which would prohibit the station from broadcasting indecent content and content that demeans women or girls.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said:

The Authority found the comments by Mr Sandilands deeply derogatory and offensive and in all the circumstances a licence condition is the appropriate response.

Although the comments conveyed hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule on the grounds of gender, they were not considered likely to incite those feelings in others, he said.


28th March   

Update: Canberra Leads the Game...

ACT to adopt the new R18+ adult games rating next week
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Canberra, Australia's capital, will start using the new R18+ rating next week.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said:

This is part of a national reform that will allow adult gamers to view R18+ material in the same way that can already be done for film and printed material, said  But at the same time it will also provide protection to parents and children by giving parents better guidance about what material is and is not appropriate for people under the age of 18.


20th March   

Update: Games Rating Bill Goes Up a Level...

Australian lower house passes legislation to introduce an adult rating for games
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Computer game ratings for adults-only are a step closer after Australia's lower house passed legislation on Monday.

The new laws will bring computer games in line with the classification system for films and make Australia more consistent with international standards.

The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012 passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.

It now proceeds to the Senate.


9th March   

Kombative Censors...

Australia bans Playstation Vita version of Mortal Kombat
Link Here
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
The Sony PlayStation Vita version of the Warner Brothers classic fighting game reboot Mortal Kombat has been banned by the Censorship Board.

The game was submitted to the misleadingly named Classification Board of Australia by Warner Brothers despite previous console versions of the game being similarly banned for explicit violence. The publisher felt that the impact of the violence in the Vita version of Mortal Kombat would be lessened by the portable console's smaller screen size.

Obviously, the censors didn't agree.

Warner Bros. clarified that the version submitted was the same, unedited version of Mortal Kombat for the Vita that will be released globally, except Australia, on April 19.


5th March   

Refused Classification Prohibited...

Legalising the sale of hardcore in Australia
Link Here
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report about rationalising media censorship across all formats has proposed some sensible reforms to remove some of the more ludicrous anomalies in Australian media censorship.

The current so called 'Refused Classification' (RC) category will be narrowed down a little and renamed to the more sensible tag, 'Prohibited'.

The ALRC first recommended that RC be renamed Prohibited to avoid confusion:

The plain meaning of the term is confusing, because content that is 'Refused Classification' has, in fact, received a classification. That is, the term is open to misunderstanding, because it does not make it clear that the content has been subject to a classification decision-making process.

The ALRC has recommended that the government should review prohibitions on the depiction of sexual fetishes in films and detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs , as well as refining prohibition on content that promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime to be only limited to serious crime .

ISPs would only be required to block prohibited content once it has been classified as being prohibited, the ALRC said, and, given the large amount of content online, the ALRC suggested that only a sub-category of prohibited content should be blocked by the filter, such as child-abuse material.

Another important recommendation of the review is that adult X18+ hardcore content need not be classified beyond the self declared X18+ label. At present such material may only be sold in shops in Canberra and the Northern Territory. It is recommended that it would be made legal across Australia.

But the regulation should be refined to protect minors from accessing the content. The ALRC conceded that it would not be possible for the Classification Board to classify all adult content online, suggesting that ISPs should take reasonable steps to restrict access to the content by minors, such as promoting family friendly filters, or potentially implementing age-verification tools for sites that the ISP knows to be classified X18+.

Pirate Party Supportive of ALRC Recommendation

See  article from

Government politicians have said little so far about the recommendations. However the Pirate Party have responded.

Pirate Party Australia has welcomed some of the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) about reforming the current classification system.

Several recommendations in the ALRC's final report conform to the Pirate Party's policies, the party said in a statement. David W. Campbell, Party President said that the recommendation to use the term Prohibited in place of the spineless and vague 'Refused Classification' label was a move in the right direction. Too much content is left in limbo. Hopefully this is a victory for common sense, and we will see less content lumped in with materials that truly deserve to be illegal, such as child pornography.

Speaking about freedom of expression, the Party statement approved the possible redefinition of the Prohibited category to narrow its scope and review the prohibitions on depictions of sexual fetishes. The Party believes that it is indicative of a progressive society and feels it is necessary to bring the category in line with what are socially acceptable practices to certain communities legally engaging in the practices depicted.

The Party however, raised an objection to the inclusion of a recommendation which has appeared to some to compel Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other intermediaries to filter the Internet. The Party has been continuously campaigning against the compulsory Internet filter proposed by Stephen Conroy, the present Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The inclusion of the toxic notion of Internet Service Provider obligations is once again flogging the dead horse of privacy encroachment and destructive breakdown of Australian citizens' rights, Campbell elaborated. Saying that the recommendation tries to convert ISPs into enforcement agencies, Campbell referred to the technical impracticalities of restricting any content on the Internet without destroying it. This expansion of 'intermediary liability' constantly rears its head in all facets of Internet governance --- it is both unwarranted and unnecessary, he said.


5th March   

Updated: News Media Council...

Australian inquiry recommends the establishment of a press censor
Link Here

An inquiry into Australia's news media has recommended that a new press censor body be established to set and monitor journalistic standards.

The inquiry was launched in September 2011 in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal. The report called for a News Media Council to handle public complaints.

The review, headed by former judge Ray Finkelstein, found that current self-regulation mechanisms did not make media organisations sufficiently accountable and said more needed to be done to bolster public confidence.

The new council would apply to news and current affairs across print, online, radio and television. The inquiry said it should be funded by the government but independent of it. The report said:

The establishment of a council is not about increasing the power of government or about imposing some form of censorship ...[But]... It is about making the news media more accountable to those covered in the news, and to the public generally.

The press censor would handle complaints and should have power to make a news outlet publish an apology, correction or retraction, the report said.

Update: Bloggers to be drawn into Australian press censorship

5th March 2012. See  article from

Bloggers whose writings receive just 41 page impressions a day could be drawn into Australian press censorship under a proposed new model of media regulation for Australia. The recommendation comes from the Finkelstein report.

The report's central suggestion is that the government should create and fund a new central body , called the News Media Council, to handle all complaints about media. Such a body is needed, the report argues, because Australia currently has multiple overlapping media regulators, most of which are ineffectual. There's also no regulator at all for online media.

The authors try to define just what media should be subject to the new body's oversight and decides that publishers must be in the business of creating news, a definition it says could include bloggers because there are many newsletter publishers and bloggers, although no longer part of the 'lonely pamphleteer' tradition, who offer up-to-date reflections on current affairs.

The report then says If a publisher distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news internet site has a minimum of 15 000 hits per annum it should be subject to the jurisdiction of the News Media Council, but not otherwise. The report adds that These numbers are arbitrary, but a line must be drawn somewhere. 15,000 page impressions a year computes to just 41 page impressions a day.


1st March   

Classification: Content Regulation and Convergent Media...

Australian law Reform Commission publishes its report on rationalising media censorship
Link Here
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

All media in Australia should be classified, and censored, in the same way, according to a landmark report published today.

Conducting the first review of Australia's classification laws in 20 years, the Australian Law Reform Commission found that the rapid rise of new forms of media had overtaken existing classification laws.

The review would have far-reaching implications for Australia's media. Radio and television broadcasters are subject to regulation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Television broadcasters are also subject to guidelines under the Commercial Television Code of Practice.

The report recommended:

  • One set of laws establishing obligations to classify or restrict access to content across media platforms.Clear scope of what must be classified: feature films and television programs, as well as computer games likely to be MA 15+ or higher, that are both made and distributed on a commercial basis, and likely to have a significant Australian audience.
  • A shift in regulatory focus to restricting access to adult content, by imposing new obligations on content providers to take reasonable steps to restrict access to adult content and to promote cyber-safety.
  • Co-regulation and industry classification, with more industry classification of content and industry development of classification codes, but subject to regulatory oversight.
  • Classification Board benchmarking and community standards, with a clear role for the Classification Board in making independent classification decisions that reflect community standards.
  • An Australian government scheme that replaces the current co-operative scheme with enforcement under Commonwealth law.
  • A single regulator with primary responsibility for regulating the new scheme.

Professor Flew of the ALRC said:

Classification criteria should also be reviewed periodically, to ensure they reflect community standards,

One category that may no longer align with community standards is 'Refused Classification' or 'RC'. The scope of this category should be narrowed, and the ALRC suggests changes for government to consider.

[So it is recommended that hardcore porn be legalised for sale across Australia with self classification by the industry. But all this in return for the adult industry taking on board strict conditions to ensure that the material is not sold to under 18s. In fact, any such restrictions will apply equally to softcore and even mainstream R18+ horror films for adults].


29th February   

The Australian Classification Board Recommends...

Star Wars XXX, a Porn Parody is banned by the film censor
Link Here

Star Wars XXX, a Porn Parody is a 2012 US adult video by Axel Braun. With Allie Haze, Seth Gamble and Tom Byron. See IMDb

The video has now been banned by the Australian film censor. It must be good.

Promotional Material:

Award winning director Axel Braun teamed up with adult powerhouse Vivid Entertainment to film the most ambitious porn movie ever made! Will Leia succumb to the dark side of the Force? Will Han shoot first? Will Chewy get lucky? You will get all the answers and much much more in the adult movie event of the year: Star Wars XXX - A Porn Parody! May the farce be with you!


28th February   

Update: Censored for the Moment...

Australian law Reform Commission delivers its report on rationalising media censorship
Link Here
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

The Classification team delivered its Final Report on the Review of the National Classification Scheme to the Attorney-General. Under the ALRC Act, the Attorney-General now has 15 Parliamentary sitting days in which to table the Report. Until it is tabled, the Report is under embargo and the ALRC is unable to make any comment about its recommendations or the Report's content.

We have also produced a short Summary Report that provides an accessible overview of the ALRC's recommendations and approach to reform. Once these publications have been tabled, they will be available to view or download from the ALRC website.


26th February   

Updated: Maybe a Censorial Cold Shower...

Australia's film censor asked to OK gay sex films for showing at the Mardi Gras Film Festival
Link Here

The Mardi Gras Film Festival expects to be granted an exemption from film censorship laws so it can screen four films featuring real sex acts.

Despite the law prohibiting the public screening of (hardcore) X-rated films in New South Wales, the festival's director, Lex Lindsay, said:

We are confident the classification board will be satisfied with our rationale for screening these works ... and that the content in each of these works, whilst being sexually explicit, is of a nature and artistic standard suitable for public screenings to a group of educated and interested adults.

The Mardi Gras Film Festival opens in Sydney on February 16 at cinemas in Newtown, Parramatta and the Hoyts Cinema complex in Moore Park.

Two of the films, Homme au bain (Man at Bath) and Sagat , feature penetrative sex between men, and In Their Room: Berlin depicts a casual sex encounter during which the actors perform oral sex. Community Action Centre contains frequent sex scenes between transgender individuals, which Lindsay suggested in a submission to the classification board could lead to a possible X-rating.

A spokesman for the board, Brian Kent, said organisers of film festivals wishing to screen unclassified films in the festival must apply for an exemption:

If it is likely that an unclassified film will be X18+ or Refused Classification, the exemption will not be granted, he said.

[There may be a little hype going on here. Britain's film censors at the BBFC passed Man at Bath 18 uncut with the comment: Contains strong sex and nudity. If there is any real sex going on, the BBFC usually comment that it contains 'real sex' rather than 'strong sex'].

Update: Banned by the Film Censors

20th February 2012. See  article from

Australia's Classification Board has banned two films from the program for the Mardi Gras Film Festival.

The films, Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin , contain some unsimulated sexual activity. The Board has refused the exemption from classification on the grounds that should the films undergo the classification process in Australia they would be granted an X classification. X-rated films are not allowed to be screened publicly in New South Wales.

Festival director Lex Lindsay expressed his disappointment at the decision to members in an email:

Obviously I am astoundingly disappointed with this decision and didn't expect the Board to use such a stringent interpretation of the 20-year-old Classification Act in assessing these films, he wrote.

I believe these films are not only appropriate for public viewing, but strongly deserving of festival screenings to an informed and sympathetic audience who have chosen to see them. Regrettably, I believed the Classification Board might agree with me.

To contextualise my decision, Community Action Centre, bringing together the work of a number of video artists responding to the simple idea that our bodies are art, has just been purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has exhibited at the Tate Modern, London. It will now not be screening in Australia.

As a curator of the world's most important new screen images of queer people, life and art, I wanted to bring you this film, but unfortunately our classification system has made that impossible.

Offsite: Statement from Festival Director Lex Lindsay

24th February 2012.  From

In order to screen unclassified material, all Australian film festivals must request an exemption from classification for the content they have programmed. The Classification Board have chosen to refuse this exemption for two of the titles selected for this festival. Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin.

These two films contain some real sexual activity, and the Classification Board refused this exemption on the grounds that they believe, should these films undergo the classification process in Australia, they would be granted an X classification. There's nothing wrong with X classified material, but the current laws state you may not publicly screen it. As such, we won't.

Update: Bath is Running

26th February 2012.  From , thanks to Bob

One of the 3 films originally identified as prone to censorship by the Australian Classification Board has survived and will play at the Mardi Gras festival on 28th February. Man at Bath survived the censors, whereas Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin were banned on the grounds that they would likely be X Rated.

Man at Bath will now be shown with the warning: This film contains some explicit sexual content.


15th February   

Update: Level 1...

Australian bill to introduce an adult ratings for games clears the first step
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games
Australia's Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare has started the ball rolling for an adult rating for video. For the first step the bill has been cleared by the Federal Parliamentary Caucus of the Australian Labor Party. The bill is now ready to be introduced in parliament.

The R18+ bill needs the support of at least two crossbench members of parliament to be passed through the Lower House. To pass through the Senate, the Bill needs the support of either the coalition or the Greens, both of which have indicated some level of support for the R18+ issue.

If all goes to plan, Clare is proposing that a R18+ for games will be available from 1st January 2013.

Update: Inquiry

17th February 2012.  See  article from

The opposition Coalition has asked that the R18+ bill be sent for an inquiry.

As part of the legislation process, if one MP calls for an inquiry on a proposed bill, that bill must undergo extra scrutiny and further examination by a Standing Committee. This inquiry process is usually utilised for bills that are deemed complex or controversial.

The good news, however, is that these inquiries are usually fast tracked, and made up of people with responsibilities in that portfolio area, so to not delay the passage of the proposed legislation. It's probably worth noting that, since 1990, approximately 30% of bills have been sent to Standing Committees.


5th February   

Update: Playing Safe...

Australia's opposition parties form their own Online Safety Working Group
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australia's opposition Coalition has announced plans for an Online Safety Working Group designed to assist parents and teachers in protecting young people from the risks associated with the internet and social media.

The Coalition will consult with technology, education and cyber safety representatives, to develop its online safety policy in the areas of education, regulation and enforcement.

Federal opposition leader, Tony Abbott, said in a statement that approximately 2.2 million Australian children actively engage via the internet and are vulnerable to its risks:

In a relatively short period of time, the internet has transformed our way of life. However, there are also risks, and children are particularly vulnerable. These risks include children being exposed to illegal or inappropriate content and the increasing use of social media as a forum for online bullying.

Abbott added that the Coalition do not seek to repeat Labor's ham-fisted attempt to put a filter on the internet or to hinder the dynamic nature of the online environment. Abbott was referring to the Federal Government's proposed mandatory Internet Service Provider (ISP) filter which attracted criticism from the IT industry during 2011: This is about protecting cyber privacy. It's not about trying to enforce cyber censorship.


29th January

 Offsite: Australia Goes Weak at the Knee at the Thought of Porn...

Link Here
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
New censorship scheme missing that vital X factor

See article from


28th January   

Update: Once a Blocker, Always a Blocker...

Australia's censorship minister still hankers after state imposed internet blocking
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stephen Conroy, the Australian minister of Communications Blocking has remained stalwart in his support for Labor's hated mandatory internet blocking scheme in a debate on ABC TV.

He was asked whether Labor's support for the blocking was pointless, given that it may not have the numbers to get through Parliament.

Conroy answered that a review of the Refused Classification category of content still had to be undertaken before legislation was introduced to Parliament. He added:

The legislation will ultimately reflect the outcome of that review... for people to say it definitely won't be passed, the legislation hasn't been drafted, and that review hasn't taken place yet

You don't, simply because you've got a lot of criticism, say 'well I'm going to run away from that policy.

Other panelists were more wary. Independent Rob Oakeshott said he was in favour of personal responsibility in terms of internet use, but he would wait to see the legislation.

Shadow Innovation Minister Sophie Mirabella told the audience that the Coalition wouldn't support the policy because it wouldn't work, particularly as it was unable to block peer-to-peer traffic.

Australian Sex Party president Fiona Patton warned filter critics not to take the Coalition's opposition to the scheme for granted. (Shadow Treasurer) Joe Hockey may have said he won't support the filter as it stands, but certainly Tony Abbott out at Rooty Hill, of course, said that he would do whatever he could to stop people looking at filth, she said.


24th January   

Update: Starting the Parliamentary Game...

Bill to introduce and adult rating for games will be introduced to the Australian Parliament in February
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

In July last year, Australian state, and territory censorship ministers reached an in-principle agreement to introduce an R18+ classification for video games in Australia.

At the time, the measure was championed by the former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor.

he has since moved to a new job during the federal government's ministerial reshuffle late last year, with former Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare named the new Federal Minister for Home Affairs.

Clare so far been silent on his intentions for the adult classification for games. Now, speaking to GameSpot AU, Clare's office has revealed that the minister will stick to the previously announced timeline for R18+ and will introduce the R18+ for games bill in the first session of this year's parliamentary sittings, due to commence on February 7.

A spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare indicated the Government expected the legislation to be passed by the end of the year.

However the Government lives on a parliamentary knife edge needing support from cross bench MPs. It is not yet clear whether the bill will get the necessary consensus.

Update: Victoria Too

4th February 2012. From

The Victorian Attorney-General's office confirmed it intended to allow R18+ games to be sold there. The Victorian Government also intends to legislate to provide for an R18+ computer game classification, a spokesman said.

(This is) in accordance with the agreement reached between state and territory attorneys-general in July last year to introduce the new classification together with agreed guidelines to protect against excessive levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence.


15th January

 Offsite: Using a Hammer to Crack an Internet Poster's Nut...

Link Here
Full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
A scary new Australian censorship enforcement regime applicable to individuals

See report [pdf] from


11th January   

Stereotypically Complaining...

Australian Jewish group complains about stereotypes in TV show The Promise
Link Here

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has complained with the Australian broadcaster SBS about the British-made television series The Promise, which it says conveys anti-Jewish stereotypes.

In a letter to SBS, the Jewish organisation alleges that the series

promotes, endorses and reinforces demeaning stereotypes about Jews as a group. All of the principal Jewish characters (and thus by implication Jews generally) are portrayed negatively and, ultimately, without any redeeming virtues. They are cast as variously cruel, violent, hateful, ruthless, unfeeling, amoral, treacherous, racist and/or hypocritical.

The ancient libel that holds all Jews throughout history to be collectively guilty of killing Jesus has been segued into the equally ludicrous proposition that all Jews are collectively guilty of the wanton shedding of innocent blood, a staple of contemporary Palestinian propaganda. The series also panders to stereotypes about Jews being immoderately wealthy and having acquired their wealth unfairly. The cumulative effect of these consistently negative portrayals of all of the principal Jewish characters and of the series' numerous misrepresentations of the relevant historical background in a way that consistently casts Jews in a negative light is to demean Jews as a group.

The relevant historical events (and their misrepresentation) and the principal Jewish characters are vehicles for attributing negative traits to Jews generally across time and space. 'The Promise' utilizes and reinforces racist tropes about Jews that, but for a brief post-WWII respite, have been embedded in western civilization since pre-Christian times and are not in any way comparable to negative portrayals of other groups.

The four-part series The Promise, written and directed by British filmmaker Peter Kosminsky, tells a fictional story about Erin (played by actress Claire Foy), an 18-year-old British girl who visits her Israeli friend Eliza in Israel in 2005. Erin carries and progressively reads through the diary of her grandfather, Len, which describes Len's experiences while serving as a sergeant in the British army in the 1940s.

First screened in the UK in February 2011 and in France in March 2011, critics and Jewish organizations in both countries condemned the series. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also complained, but Ofcom, the UK's TV censor, said the program was not in breach of any of its guidelines.


11th January   

Update: Shame about the Hype...

Steve McQueen's Shame rated as adult only in Australia
Link Here
Full story: MPAA NC-17...US adults only certificate is the kiss of box office death

The distributor of Steve McQueen's new film Shame has lashed out at Australia's classification board, saying the internationally acclaimed film doesn't deserve an R18+ rating.

Transmission Films general manager Courtney Botfield says she is disappointed the Australian Classification Board has stamped Shame with the rating, which restricts marketing and tends to dent box office takings.

The classification is harsh, she claims, given the film's level of explicit content and the absence of violence:

We were disappointed, we don't think the film is that terribly explicit to deserve an R rating.

Given that it was rated in a similar classification bracket in the US it was on the cards, but we were pretty confident it wouldn't get one.

In fact the film was rated adults only in both the UK (18 rating), and the US (NC-17 rating).

Botfield says some people will miss out seeing an important film because of restrictions on marketing. She explained:

Mainly it's the trailering. The trailer is automatically rated R and can only play with other R-rated films, of which there are none, so that key marketing tool just disappears.


5th January   

Updated: Floating New Ideas for Censorship...

Australia bans TV from showing asylum seekers arriving in boats
Link Here

Australian media companies are angry that immigration officials have pushed through new government media censorship that would ban them from showing video of asylum seekers in Australia.

The Australian Communication and Media Authority says television stations will no longer be allowed to show video of asylum seekers reaching the country by boat.

But media companies are crying foul, saying the the restrictions, implemented at the behest of immigration officials, amount to censorship.

Chris Warren, federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, said this amounts to an effort to prevent asylum seekers from telling their stories to the Australian people: It's an unnecessary restriction, which will get in the way of Australians really understanding what asylum seekers go through. Warren said while there are valid concerns about privacy behind the measure, it's not appropriate for the immigration authorities to step in and, in a heavy-handed way, try to impose restrictions on the media.

Update: Bollox

5th January 2012. See  press release from

 The Australian Communications and Media Authority seeks to correct inaccurate media reporting about its recently published Privacy Guidelines for Broadcasters 2011. Its publication concludes the first review of the ACMA's guidelines since their introduction in 2005.

Some media outlets have claimed that the guidelines are imposing new privacy restrictions on the electronic media, said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. This is simply not the case. The regulation of broadcasting content in Australia is largely set out in codes of practice developed by the television and radio industries themselves.

Privacy protections have long been embedded in these codes of practice. The ACMA's revised guidelines do not, and indeed cannot, of themselves create new obligations, and are only intended to assist licensees to comply with their own codes.

The industry codes require broadcasters to take account of both the rights of individuals to privacy and the (ultimately overriding) public interest. Nothing has changed in this regard from the ACMA's existing 2005 Privacy Guidelines. There is no new "media restriction;" there are no new "media rules".

A particular erroneous claim being made is that the guidelines restrict the coverage by the media of the arrival of asylum seekers to Australia.

In fact, the guidelines make no specific mention of asylum seekers, as claimed, nor do they create a new protection, namely that of seclusion, Chapman said.

The notion of seclusion has been around for a long time, has been well explored in the courts and was specifically referred to and accepted in an ACMA investigation report into a 2008 Ten News at Five broadcast. The concept was then explicitly included in the ACMA's draft guidelines released for public consultation in August 2011.

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