Seven News breached ACMA privacy and impartiality rules in Queensland construction reporting

Two news programs which aired on Seven News Brisbane breached privacy and impartiality regulations in their coverage of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) according to the industry watchdog.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found the broadcaster aired personal details of two QBCC employees in the stories on 30 and 31 July, 2019, which were unnecessary and not in public interest.

Seven News didn’t act impartially in its coverage of the QBCC story

The stories showed images of the employees’ names, job titles and signatures and were also not fair and impartial in the presentation of allegations according to the ACMA ruling. The personal details were on screen for approximately one second, which Seven argued meant they were not recognisable. However, ACMA found enough information was available in the snippet that the two employees could be easily identified. Consent was not obtained to air the information.

The second story aired examples of construction work which wasn’t completed to a satisfactory level and linked those issues to the QBCC, despite the work not being inspected by the body. A viewer watching the story would assume, based on the material presented, that the QBCC was not effectively regulating ‘dodgy’ builders and that the complaints handling process was not adequate, said ACMA.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said broadcasters need to adhere to the regulations set out in their relevant codes of practice.

“The Commercial Television Code of Practice has clear definitions of what is acceptable to broadcast. Channel Seven News Brisbane failed to meet its obligations under the Code,” O’Loughlin said.

“By failing to give the QBCC the opportunity to respond to the allegations aired in the 31 July news story, it failed to present the news fairly and impartially.”

Seven News Brisbane will circulate a copy of the ACMA’s finding to news editorial staff within Seven Brisbane and include the decision and its reasoning in its staff Code training. Given Seven’s record of code compliance, the ACMA considers those actions are sufficient remedial actions in the circumstances.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.