Southern Cross TV breached privacy by filming through window for Today Tonight report

Southern Cross Television The media watchdog has found Southern Cross Television breached the codes of practice over a Today Tonight broadcast in Tasmania in which the current affairs show filmed through the window of a house, and broadcast the name of the street and suburb of the people involved in the story without permission.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has today ruled that Southern Cross breached rules on personal information and privacy in a report on a dispute over the sale of a house on November 12, 2013.

According to the adjudication the report “intruded upon” the privacy of the couple living at the house by filming through a window, adding: “Further, the reporter named the street and suburb, and footage clearly showed personal information and signatures on a contract relating to the property.”

The media watchdog found the information broadcast was “related to the complainant’s personal or private affairs” and “intruded upon the complainant’s seclusion in more than a fleeting way”.

The broadcast regulator was also satisfied that the information was not publicly available and there was no public interest reason for broadcasting it, nor was the consent of the couple involved obtained.

‘The privacy requirements of the Code are there to protect people’s personal information where there is no clear public interest in disclosure,’ said ACMA chairmanChris Chapman in a statement.

However, the ACMA found no breach in complaints regarding accuracy and fair representation of viewpoints it did not find in favour of the complainant in a second privacy-related complaint which focused on the program identifying children.

Southern Cross Television has been contacted for comment but has not responded at the time of publishing.

The broadcaster is understood to have agreed to provide a copy of the decision to senior news and current affairs staff and senior management and to include it in future training sessions.

The station has also provided a copy of the report to the Seven Network, from which it licences the Today Tonight brand, where it will be circulated to relevant staff and included in future training sessions.

Nic Christensen 



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