Jones: back to school
The comments of under-fire 2GB shock-jock Alan Jones are to be fact-checked by his radio station’s producers before going to air, after a new ruling by industry watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Jones is also to attend training sessions to ensure what he says on air is factually accurate and that he understands the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.
The fact-checking and training mandates were suggestions made by 2GB – which ACMA has accepted.
The ruling comes after ACMA found that the 2GB presenter breached its code on accuracy in March last year, when Jones made a series of comments about climate change.
In the March broadcast, Jones said: “Human beings produce 0.001% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”. ACMA’s beef was that Jones’ view was presented as a statement rather than opinion.
The ACMA ruling was prompted by complaints made by his show’s listeners.
The new measures to apply to Alan Jones’ show:
- Pre-broadcast fact-checking by the program’s executive producer of any material provided by non-media sources or third parties which may require additional confirmation and attribution.
- Creation and retention (for at least six weeks) of records of the verification material sourced by the executive producer for the facts contained in the editorial piece.
- Identification by the executive producer of controversial issues of public importance that are not covered by other 2GB current affairs programs.
- Communication of these exceptions to 2GB’s program director who will then be responsible to ensure that another current affairs program presents an alternative, significant viewpoint to that presented in the program hosted by Alan Jones so that 2GB can discharge its obligations under the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.
- Creation and retention of records by the program director for the above steps.
New measures applying to all news and current affairs programs:
- The program director will conduct random checks of daily broadcasts for each of the programs and will record the details of the controversial issues of public importance canvassed in the program. The program director will also record the reasonable efforts made/opportunities that have been given by the relevant programs to present significant alternative viewpoints.
- Training will be conducted (including with Alan Jones) focussing on the ACMA’s findings concerning factual accuracy and significant viewpoints.
- The training will be completed by the end of November 2012.
The news follows shortly after Jones became the centre of an ugly episode prompted by comments he made about the death of prime minister Julia Gillard’s father.
His comments led to the withdrawal of advertiser support from 2GB after an outcry driven by social media and an online petition.
Advertisers have since returned to the network.