ACMA rules Seven News Queensland misled viewers

Seven News in Queensland misled viewers when it said a local council member “was cleared of allegations made against him”, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled.

The May 2019 news report was inaccurate, because rather than being ‘cleared’ of allegations, the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission decided not to investigate the council member.

“The term ‘cleared’ implies there had been a finding. This was not the case,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin pointed out.

O’Loughlin recognised Seven News Queensland’s good track record, but emphasised the importance of accuracy at all times. On this occasion, it breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

“Seven News in Queensland has a good record of compliance with industry rules but on this occasion, they have dropped the ball,” she added.

“It’s important for Australians to be able to have trust in the news programs they see on TV, and inaccuracies such as this erode that trust.”

Seven will circulate a copy of ACMA’s investigation report to its Queensland editorial staff and include the decision in future training sessions to ensure compliance.

The ACMA has been active so far this year, zooming in on advertiser influence on news and receiving the second-largest fine in its history when Optus was forced to pay more than $500,000 for spamming unsubscribed customers.


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