The WIN-owned Nine Adelaide has been found guilty of breaching privacy rules after filming through the window of a family’s house during a two-day stakeout. The footage – part of an investigation into a deregistered midwife who was present at the delivery of a newborn baby in the house – was broadcast on Nine News in February. It identified the family involved in the home birth, which was not filmed.
As well as featuring the midwife, the report filmed the father of the family through the window. The news crew also filmed the father and his children outside the house, although the children’s faces were pixelated in the broadcast.
The report told viewers that an ambulance was called because the baby was born not breathing.
The broadcaster unsuccessfully tried to argue that because it did not reveal secret or confidential information it had not breached the family’s privacy. Its claim that its use of the footage was in the pubic interest was also rejected by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
The broadcaster was also found to have breached the rule demanding extra care when the privacy of children was at issue.
The report is the first TV broadcast found to have breached the new privacy guidelines which were introduced a year ago.
The man who complained said that he had telephoned Nine News to ask whether he and his family had been filmed, to ask them to leave and to ask them not to broadcast footage of his children.
ACMA said of the intrusion “The ACMA is satisfied that the complainant would have a reasonable expectation that his activities within his home would not be observed by others. Further, a person of ordinary sensibilities would consider the broadcast of such footage to be at least offensive and likely highly offensive, regardless of the intimate circumstances of a birth and the medical emergency. In these circumstances, the ACMA considers that the licensee invaded the privacy of the complainant and his children by prying into their home.”
“The concept of being protected against someone intruding on your private space is a key tenet of the privacy guidelines,’ said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman. “It is partly based on a person’s reasonable expectation that their activities would not be observed or overheard. In this case, footage in and around the complainant’s home was found to be an invasion of privacy,” he said.
Because this is the first breach of its type by the broadcaster, there were no sanctions of adding conditions to its licence. The station has agreed to organising a training program for its staff.