Footage of attack breaches privacy and distress rules

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that Queensland Television (Nine Network) and Channel Seven Brisbane breached broadcast rules in reports about a violent attack on a taxi driver.

Separate investigations into 7News Gold Coast and Gold Coast Nine news reports found that the stations aired footage of the violent attack without adequately concealing the victim’s identity or obtaining their consent. They failed to adequately protect the victim’s privacy and did not exercise sufficient sensitivity when broadcasting images of a person who had survived a traumatic experience.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said it was important broadcasters carefully consider the footage included in news programs.

“Television broadcasters have a responsibility to handle personal information and distressing material with care,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2015 broadcasters are required to take care when airing material that invades a person’s privacy or contains distressing material.

“That private material may already be in the public domain does not give broadcasters free license to re- publish it to a broader audience such as in a television news report. Doing so could be a further and more significant invasion of privacy.”

“Broadcasting people’s private material must also be proportionate to the public interest involved. Reporting on the sentencing of the perpetrator may have been in the public interest, the inclusion of close-up footage of the victim during the attack was not.”

Following the investigation findings, both broadcasters have committed to undertake further training on their privacy obligations and to advise the ACMA of the outcome of this training.

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