ACMA finds Sunrise motorbike collision story breached accuracy rules

Sunrise breached broadcast accuracy rules in a story about a motorbike collision that aired in September of 2020, according to a ruling by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Following an investigation, the ACMA found that the report, which claimed a motorbike rider ‘deliberately rode off a footpath and into a 13-year-old girl’, was inaccurate.

In the story, it was presented as fact that the collision was intentional, with the ACMA ruling there was insufficient evidence to support the claim.

Sunrise’s 2020 presenter cast

The original complaint submitted to Seven said: “They claim he [the motorcycle rider] did this intentionally. Then go on to say that he is yet to be apprehended.

“I strongly question how they know intent. I see no possible way for the network to know intent if the boy has not even been apprehended or tried… it suggests [that] channel seven somehow has mind-reading capabilities.”

In Seven’s original response, it disputed the complaint, suggesting that “the ordinary reasonable viewer would interpret the statement during the report to mean that the motorcyclist deliberately rode onto the footpath, and then deliberately rode off the footpath and onto the road, hitting the victim in the process of riding off the footpath and onto the road.”

The ACMA disagreed, and pointed out that, under the Commercial Television Industry Code Of Practice, broadcasters must not misrepresent viewpoints and need to present factual material accurately in news and current affairs programs.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said Australians should be confident about what is being reported on commercial news.

“Audiences should be able to trust that information presented in news reports is factually accurate and has been properly verified. It is disappointing that Seven reported the collision as deliberate without sufficient supporting evidence.

After the finding, Seven agreed to provide the investigation report to Sunrise staff to remind them of obligations under the Code regarding accuracy.

Seven will also include the decision in future code training sessions with staff.

The network had nothing further to add when contacted by Mumbrella for additional comments.


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