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ACMA rules A Current Affair report on Christian organisation breached codes of practice

ACMAMedia watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Nine breached the codes of practice in a report on A Current Affair, which suggested an inter-denominational Christian organisation was intentionally misleading parents around its delivery of Special Religious Instruction classes in Victorian primary schools.

The ACA report on Access Ministries and its delivery, which aired on June 11 last year, was found to have breached the accuracy provision of the code by conveying to viewers that Access Ministries was misleading parents about the nature of the religious instruction it provided and was dishonest and secretive in its use of ‘hidden codes’ to convert children.

Nine defended the segment, arguing “much of the material presented was based on first-hand experience of parents, children and school principals” and the reporter and interviewee used “the language of opinion”, however the ACMA found statements concerning the religious organisation and descriptions of its program as education, as opposed to religious instruction, were presented as factual.

The broadcast had no information clarifying that instruction in religious beliefs is permitted in the delivery of Special Religious Instruction.

In its investigation, ACMA dismissed complaints suggesting the report created public panic, portrayed the organisation in a negative light or was based on religious vilification.

In response to the ruling, Nine has indicated it will ensure relevant staff aware aware of the results of ACMA’s investigation and will provide further training to them.

Miranda Ward 

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