John Laws breached privacy provisions by giving out man’s phone number on-air

John LawsMedia watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled against Radio 2SM over the decision of veteran presenter John Laws to read out the mobile phone number of a listener on-air.

ACMA today found the station in breach of its code of conduct after a broadcast on 25 November, 2013, which saw Laws twice read out, on air, the full name and mobile phone number of a man who was critical of his program.

In making its decision the ACMA rejected the licensee’s argument that there was implied consent on the part of the complainant to the broadcast of his phone number, instead finding he did not accept that broadcasting the private details of the complainant was in the public interest.

The finding sees Radio licensee 2SM Pty Ltd in breach of the privacy provisions of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice which states that a licensee must not ‘use material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs, or which invades an individual’s privacy, unless there is a public interest in broadcasting such information.

ACMA this afternoon said that Laws will not be required to make an on-air apology, adding in a statement: “Given this was a not a systemic issue with the licensee, the compliance has been resolved through agreed measures around process improvements, including caller information, and staff training.”

Laws was cleared in January of breaching media regulations for asking a woman who told him she had been sexually abused as a child if it had been her fault.

Nic Christensen


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