Court rules ACMA didn’t breach guidelines with two investigations into 2GB’s Alan Jones

2gb_sydney_873The Federal Court has rejected radio station 2GB licence holders’ claims the media watchdog exceeded its power in launching two investigations into statements made by DJ Alan Jones.

In a written ruling handed down this afternoon, justice John Buchanan dismissed claims from 2GB license holder Harbour Radio that the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) used the wrong section of the Broadcasting Services Act to probe 2GB.

Today’s ruling paves the way for the ACMA to publish a report understood to conclude 2GB breached its license conditions with a broadcast by Jones in 2013 about a climate change report, which could lead to a punishment for the station.

Lawyers for the radio station had argued that the ACMA had bypassed processes and incorrectly investigated 2GB under section 170 of the Broadcasting Services Act.

The “proper source of power” was under section 149 of the BSA, which is sparked by meeting requirements under section 148 of the BSA, they had said in a court hearing in March.

The broadcaster had been seeking a review of both ACMA investigations which centered on two comments made by Jones, one relating to climate change and the other around claims he made about a Queensland businessman.

But Justice Buchanan ruled in favour of ACMA, concluding it was within its rights to investigate 2GB under section 170 of the BSA.

Both cases dated back to broadcasts by veteran broadcaster Jones in 2013. The first case related to remarks he made about climate change following what had already been found to be incorrect reports in The Australian.


The News Corp newspaper had repeated a story, first covered by the UK’s Mail on Sunday, claiming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had drastically overestimated the extent of global warming and exaggerated rising temperatures.

But the report was found to be incorrect, with several newspapers forced to issue retractions and a ruling made against The Australian by The Press Council. 

Jones, a climate change sceptic, picked up the story with the station subsequently receiving complaints.

The ACMA had ruled on the case, but did not make its findings public because of the legal proceedings.

However, Justice Buchanan’s ruling did contain details of the ACMA findings which concluded the licensee had breached clause 2.2(a) of the Code of Practice by “not making reasonable efforts to ensure that factual material was reasonably supportable as being accurate” and “did not broadcast a correction which was adequate and appropriate in all circumstances”.

The second case related to allegations Jones made about Toowoomba businessman John Wagner, which also prompted a complaint, although the investigation into the issue has not been completed and no ruling made.

Click here for full Federal Court ruling.

Steve Jones


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