An investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that a 2012 broadcast of the Sunday Night program found that Channel Seven Perth Pty Limited breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.
The investigation related to a segment of the program which reported on the sinking of a mobile platform used for oil extraction purposes in the Gulf of Mexico during a hurricane in September 2011. The segment also focused on the actions of an Australian ship which was in the area at the time.
Sunday Night alleged it had failed to come to the rescue of the crew of the mobile platform during the sinking incident.
ACMA found that the segment breached code of practice requirements for factual accuracy regarding whether the shipping company had been accused of murder in a US court.
“The ACMA also found that the segment breached requirements to represent viewpoints fairly regarding whether the captain of the Australian ship ought to have attempted a rescue of men stranded on the mobile platform,” the regulator said in a statement.
“The ACMA found that the licensee had not breached code requirements about other matters investigated (factual accuracy and fair representation of viewpoints).”
Channel Seven had sought judicial review of ACMA’s breach findings, but the Federal Court of Australia dismissed the network’s application in June 2014 on all grounds holding that it was open to the regulator to make all of the findings that it did and that the findings were not affected by legal error as alleged by Channel Seven.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said the regulator is pleased by the Court’s findings.
“The judgment provided some helpful guidance on the meaning of particular content as conveyed to the ‘ordinary reasonable’ viewer,” he said.