ACMA and SCA agree on “Royal Prank” penalty

ACMA and SCA reach deal over punishment for prank call: 3-hour educational program

Statements from The ACMA and Southern Cross Austereo were released late last week after the two parties reached agreement over the penalty for the broadcast of the Royal Prank call in late 2012.
Below are the highlights of the two releases.

The ACMA

The Australian Communications and Media Authority and Today FM Sydney Pty Ltd (2DayFM) have agreed on a constructive set of actions in response to the breaches found in the ACMA’s investigation into the so-called Royal Prank broadcast.

2DayFM will broadcast a three-hour special program, produced to promote media ethics and raise public awareness of the signs and risks of bullying, depression and anxiety. All advertising within the program will be suspended or proceeds donated to charity.

The ACMA has accepted an enforceable undertaking from 2DayFM that will require all presenters, production and management personnel to actively engage with their ethical and legal obligations through a targeted training program.

The ACMA will impose an additional licence condition on 2DayFM that will apply for three years, which will not be contested by 2DayFM. The condition elevates clause 6.1 of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice and Guidelines 2011 (the Code) and specifies that the station will not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless that person has (a) been informed in advance that the words may be broadcast or (b) if recorded without the person’s knowledge, they have consented to the broadcast of the words.

“The combined approach of the special broadcast and targeted training program, together with the imposition of a new licence condition, presents a positive alternative to what would have otherwise been a brief suspension of 2DayFM’s licence,” said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman (pictured). “This is a much more constructive way of ensuing future compliance by 2DayFM with important community safeguards.

“The community has a right to expect that broadcasters will not record and broadcast private conversations where consent has not been given,” said Chapman. “It heralds a positive approach that the new board and management of 2DayFM have acknowledged and apologised for 2DayFM’s actions, accepted the ACMA’s breach findings, committed to ethical behaviour and regulatory compliance going forward and, through this special program, will seek to proactively address important societal issues including media ethics.

“These really are matters of genuine, current public concern and debate, and this contribution to the ongoing conversation is, in the ACMA’s view, better than the silence that would have been the result if the ACMA had suspended the licence for a brief time.”

Southern Cross Austereo

Radio station 2DayFM’s owner, Today FM Sydney Pty Ltd (“the Company”) will implement a range of actions agreed with the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) in response to the ACMA’s findings in 2014 on the “royal prank call”.

The “royal prank call” occurred in 2012 when 2DayFM presenters imitating Prince Charles and Her Majesty the Queen made a hoax call to the London Hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for morning sickness.

The company accepts the ACMA’s finding that 2DayFM breached certain provisions of the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice and Guidelines 2011 (the Codes) and the licence conditions under which it operates.

Chairman of Southern Cross Austereo, Peter Bush (pictured), said that while the company had previously contested the ACMA’s power to find that the station had breached the codes and its licence conditions, he was very appreciative of the forthright but constructive discussions he and the ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, had recently held to resolve the matter.

“It goes without question that 2DayFM and its presenters intended no harm to anyone as a result of the prank call. We accept the ACMA’s finding that 2DayFM was in breach when it failed to obtain consent from the nurses involved before broadcasting the recording of the prank call.

“While both NSW and Commonwealth police decided the matter should not be prosecuted and the station did not identify the people on the call by name, we accept the ACMA’s view that consent of parties must be obtained before such calls are broadcast.

“2Day FM deeply regrets and apologises for its breaches and has agreed with the ACMA several actions that will be taken in response to the matter,” Bush said.

Bush said that constructive resolution of this matter with the ACMA is an important step forward for 2DayFM as a leading radio station and brand and for the company as well.

“The whole Southern Cross Media team is committed to the highest standards in media broadcasting and we look forward to working with the ACMA to ensure continued compliance and best practice,” Bush said.

The ACMA chairman Chris Chapman welcomed the commitment of 2DayFM to compliance and ethical behaviour going forward. “A long form program dealing with matters of real and immediate community concern is a good outcome in this case and better than a brief service suspension.”

Source: The ACMA/Southern Cross Auste

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