ACMA: West TV breached rules through slow response to Russia Today ‘propaganda’ complainant

Community TV station West Television breached guidelines for failing to respond to a complaint about program RT World News within 60 days, the Australian Media and Communications Authority has ruled.

According to the ruling, the complainant argued RT World News – which runs for an hour on Perth-based West TV each weekday –  was ‘propaganda’ and contained material which propagated ‘lies, distortions’ and ‘false news stories’.

WTV breached guidelines for failure to respond to a complaint within 60 days

It also said the licensee, West TV, had not responded to three complaints, nor had it provided advice or warnings that RT was ‘Russian propaganda’.

The ACMA was unable to assess whether or not West TV was in breach of compliance with accuracy and fairness provisions, as the it failed to provide a copy of the February 20 RT World News program.

However, the ACMA has found West TV in breach of guidelines for complaints handling, after it failed to respond to three complaints within the 60 days period.

The complainant initially contacted the ACMA in February following the program, and was advised to make a complaint to the broadcaster.

Three complaints to the broadcaster were then made, which the licensee initially denied it had received. Two of the three complaints were send direct to the licensee at that time, and the licensee responded shortly afterwards.

West TV said by moving its operation from one web-hosting service to another between February and March, it had not received the initial complaints.

But the ACMA said that did not excuse West TV’s inability to respond within 60 days.

“Further, the ability to respond relies upon licensees maintaining a functional and accessible complaints handling system at all times—for email-based and other online complaint facilities this includes actively monitoring operations during system upgrades and transitions and/or implementing appropriate alternative arrangements,” the ACMA said.

By failing to acknowledge the receipt of the complaints and respond within the specified timeframe, the licensee breached the code.

WTV has since changed its website complaints notice to advice viewers to make a written complaint, should an electronic complaint not be acknowledged within fix working days.


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