Government cuts to red tape gives the ACMA more discretion over investigations

ACMAThe media watchdog will get more powers to decide what it should investigate, and strike out any complaints which it deems to be time wasting or vexatious.

Yesterday the government stripped away dozens of laws, including changing the 1992 Broadcasting Services Act, which compelled the Australian Communications and Media Authority to investigate any complaint put to it through appropriate channels about TV and radio broadcasters.

With the law removed it now gives the authority the power to decide which complaints it should look into, with the ACMA now looking to draw up a guidelines to decide when it is “desirable” to do so, bringing it in line with other statutory bodies with similar powers.

A spokeswoman told Mumbrella: “This amendment will allow the ACMA to take no action on complaints that are, for example, misconceived, trivial, stale or inappropriately divert the ACMA’s resources and the resources of broadcasters. It is expected to allow a more efficient and effective use of resources on investigations– this is a key benefit.”

In effect it will now ave the power to strike out dozens of complaints made against broadcasters by serial complainers, or where the complaint is over something which occurred a long time ago.

Between July 2012 and June 2013 the authority received 2,178 written inquiries and complaints, and while most are sent to the broadcasters to deal with in the first instance there were 212 investigations finalised, which found there were 67 breaches, 135 non breaches with ten investigations concluded. The average time to conclude a complaint was 3.1 months.

The spokeswoman told Mumbrella the changes may well not speed up investigations due to the back-and-forth nature of them, but would allow the ACMA to use its resources “more efficiently”.


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