ACMA finds WIN News Townville and Prime7 News Wagga in breach of impartiality rules

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found regional broadcasters WIN Television Queensland and Prime Television (Southern) to be in breach of impartiality rules for airing news reports that advocated for law reform around regional media.

The breach is in regards to news reports by WIN News Townsville and Pime7 News Wagga that considered whether regional media is jeopardised by ‘outdated’ media laws. ACMA investigations found both broadcasters in breach of the impartiality rules due to a ‘call to action’ to support the Save Our Voices’ campaign, which advocates for reform to regional media laws.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said while the role of regional media is a newsworthy topic, on this occasion WIN and Prime had both failed to meet the standards of impartiality required of news programs.

“Australian audiences should be able to rely on news programs for fair and impartial information so they can understand complex issues,” said O’Loughlin said.

“The issue is not the topic reported on but the fact that a news broadcast encouraged viewers to take action and visit an online petition in which the licensee had a direct interest.”

“As a result, the report went beyond providing sufficient information for viewers to make up their own minds about the issues presented to advocating for a particular policy response. The commercial interests of a broadcaster should not shape the way in which news stories are presented.”

The ACMA assessed impartiality by considering whether the program met the impartial news obligations in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2015.

Both networks have agreed to provide updated training to all news production, presenters and editorial staff around the impartiality Code rules and will report to the ACMA following the training.

Mumbrella has contacted WIN Television Queensland and Prime Television (Southern) for comment.


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