Today Tonight found guilty of inaccuracies in reporting council’s efforts to connect Muslim community

today tonight shariaA segment of Seven’s Today Tonight that suggested a Melbourne city council was instituting Sharia law has been found to be in breach of commercial TV’s code of practice by the media watchdog.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority found the current affairs show was guilty of three seperate factual inaccuracies.

The show which said the council was “spending ratepayers money to make Muslims feel more at home and to spread their faith” went to air on the October 5 last year.

The story about a job vacancy to help the Muslim community at the Darebin Council included suggesting the ‘Muslim Council’ had ‘form when it comes to implementing Sharia customs’.

ACMA considered the statement was presented in a ‘conclusive and unequivocal manner,’ stating that ‘the ordinary, reasonable viewer would have understood from the statement that the council has previous experience in implementing Sharia customs by banning boys from mixing with girls at a Council event.’ But in fact, found ACMA, the council had previously worked to support mixed gender events while remaining sensitive to cultural needs.

Another breach came when the show said the role of the Outreach Project Officer was limited to working with the Muslim faith. However, the role was to create ‘interfaith’ dialogue.

The final breach came when the show stated that ‘no-one including the Mayor, were prepared to speak to us.’ However the ACMA report showed the Mayor of the council had returned the show’s call numerous times as well as sending an email and providing a media statement, which was not used in the story but posted on Today Tonight’s website at a later date.

The show was however cleared of complaints that it created public panic and portrayed Muslims in a negative light.

Although ACMA found Today Tonight to be in breach of the code, it does not have the power to issue fines or similar sanctions.


  1. MT
    21 Sep 12
    9:50 am

  2. TT is meant to be factual and not made up of light entertainment skits?

  3. Bob
    21 Sep 12
    12:13 pm

  4. People rely on Media to deliver facts to us. Shame on you Seven…. You have just lost another viewer. You should openly apologise for lying.

  5. Cri
    21 Sep 12
    12:46 pm

  6. TT not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? I am shocked…SHOCKED!

  7. RDC
    21 Sep 12
    1:00 pm

  8. The ACMA should get out being a polically correct organisation, and attempting to stiffle what is a more than reasonable 4 min .36 sec segment. That the ACMA spent 8912 words on a report is a damming assesment of what the ACMA wastes resources on. Further the ACMA shows that it remains in ignorance of production timetables . The Mayor was simply not available from 9.00 am until first contact back at approximately 1.45pm, when [D] – the MAyor phoned Ms [SK] of TT to advise her that Ms [DA] was unavailable to speak on that day. Only at 3.15 was TT told that the Mayor would be available. ACMA: get real.

  9. Matt Ramsey
    21 Sep 12
    2:03 pm

  10. Oh, I thought Today Tonight was a satire in the vein of Frontline.

  11. Josh
    25 Sep 12
    11:56 pm

  12. I want to start a show where I take a group of stand over men with a camera crew and follow TT around and question them about how accurate their reporting is. I think I ll call it “Sweat”.

  13. Trollio
    26 Sep 12
    10:03 am

  14. @Josh

    That would be a great show! “Standover Tonight” air it on SBS or the ABC, or YouTube!

    Simply harrass ACA, TT, 60 mins, Sunday show (whatever it is called). I would watch it!!

    Chaser would do it well…

  15. ratSrepuS2619
    26 Sep 12
    1:40 pm

  16. @ Josh… Mate you are onto a winner there. How these ambulance chasing paparazzi sleep at night is a mystery. Screaming time constraints over a measured fair story doesn’t cut it.

  17. Gazza
    26 Sep 12
    3:48 pm

  18. More like Turdday Tonight. Their is a lot of talk about freedom of speech but this is a media organisation with a huge reach and the potential to do a lot of damage. For them freedom of speech should not extend to freedom to lie. Fine them millions instead of a slap with a wet fish.