A Current Affair reprimanded by watchdog over accuracy and privacy on GP certificates stories

ACA Media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that Nine Network’s A Current Affair breached factual accuracy and privacy provisions of the Code of Practice in two broadcasts last year.

The ACMA today reprimanded the TV network over two stories, which used hidden cameras, that were broadcast on 2 and 18 October 2013 and which claimed doctors were issuing medical certificates to patients who were not sick.

The broadcast regulator found both segments contained inaccurate claims that the two doctors had issued medical certificates for non-legitimate reasons, when in fact they had both investigated what they believed to be real medical symptoms and explored further treatment for these symptoms before issuing the certificates. It also found that one of the doctors was identifiable in the broadcast, and that the use of the secretly recorded footage of the consultation invaded his privacy.

“There was no public interest justification in the program’s surreptitious filming of medical consultations, its inaccurate descriptions of those consultations and its editing of the footage to achieve a false effect,” said Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman in a statement.While the ACMA recommended to Channel Nine that it make an on-air correction noting the ACMA’s findings, the network declined to do so. Under current regulations the ACMA does not have the power to force the network to make an on-air apology.

The TV network removed the relevant segments from the program website, included on the website a summary and a link to the ACMA’s final report and included the matter in training for staff.

The Nine Network declined to comment.

Nic Christensen 


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