Australia’s free-to-air industry body Free TV has responded to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s latest study into impartially and commercial influence in broadcast news, saying it is “disappointed” in some of the research.
While the study referenced Seven, Nine and 10, it appeared to repeatedly call out Nine for failing to disclose conflicts of interest between its news reporting, advertising and commercial interests.
The paper follows the growing concern of Australians about how commercial interests influence news programming.
ACMA’s study gave multiple examples of where Australia’s primary FTA channels failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest.
Undertaken in June last year, the ACMA study found Seven, Nine and 10 did not disclose some of their commercial arrangements and press trips taken by journalists promoting products and companies on news programs.
Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said in a statement to B&T that the industry body was “disappointed” in ACMA’s paper.
“Free TV will of course participate actively in the ACMA Inquiry but it is disappointing to see credible and trusted news providers singled out in this way when we are surrounded by a sea of fake news and echo chambers on unregulated social media and online news platforms.”
She added: “The Free TV Code of Practice requires commercial television broadcasters to present news fairly and impartially and to clearly distinguish the reporting of factual material from commentary and analysis.
“We take those obligations very seriously and think they remain the right measures to ensure our news services remain credible and trusted.”
An example the ACMA study gave included when Today had a journalist at the US launch event for Uber Air and despite wide coverage of the launch, there was no disclosure if there were any arrangements between Uber and Nine.
ACMA also criticised Seven for failing to disclose the commercial interest of a Samsung and Harvey Norman news segment.
“Seven News ran a story about Samsung’s new 98-inch 8K QLED TV available at Harvey Norman. In the commercial break immediately following this story, a commercial for Samsung QLED televisions at Harvey Norman was aired.”
The report included 160 hours of TV news and current affairs programs broadcast by commercial FTA licensees, SBS and subscription TV broadcasters in metro regions.
You can read the full report here.
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