Channel Nine’s A Current Affair will tonight make an on-air apology after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found the show had breached the codes of practice for a story alleging Asian retailers were taking over a local shopping mall in Sydney’s north west.
The media watchdog found an A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack’s story, which labelled the Castle Hill mall an “All-Asian Mall”, breached the television codes of practice in regards to broadcasting “inaccurate factual material”, “gratuitous emphasis on ethnic origin” and “likely to provoke intense dislike and serious contempt on the grounds of ethnic origin”.
In the wake of the finding, the television station has agreed to take the story down from its website and make an on-air statement acknowledging ACMA’s finding in tonight’s broadcast.
“I commend TCN for acting on the ACMA’s recommendations,” said Chris Chapman chairman of the ACMA. “The broadcaster is to be congratulated for taking a mature approach to matters of such concern, and for being transparent with its viewers.”
The original broadcast, screened on November 7, sparked outrage with residents and shop owners who condemned the story and labelled it untrue.
In the story, A Current Affair also spoke with controversial former politician Pauline Hanson, who spoke about her comments “swamped by Asians” in her maiden speech in Parliament, and that “this (more Asian retailers) would never be allowed in any other country”.
This is the first time a commercial broadcaster has accepted the ACMA’s recommendation to issue an on-air statement acknowledging the breach. In June WIN News in the Illawarra was found in breach over broadcasting misleading information about measles vaccinations but refused to acknowledge the finding.
Chapman told Mumbrella this morning: “This is the first time a (commercial) TV broadcaster has accepted our recommendation.”
“David Gyngell (CEO of Nine Entertainment) has taken what I think is a mature approach. I find David very sensible, he copped the breach, he acknowledged implicitly not enough care was taken in the story, he thinks that the broadcaster needs to be transparent with its audience. I think that’s hopefully a sign of a changing culture and that’s why I took the unusual step of commending Nine.”
The ACMA has long been pushing for the power to force broadcasters to issue on-air corrections. A parliamentary inquiry recently recommended that the watchdog be given so-called “mid-tier” powers that would allow them to force broadcasters to make corrections and acknowledge findings against them.