Ten and WIN report on ‘brutal bashing’ in Melbourne in breach of guidelines, rules ACMA

A Ten Eyewitness News First at Five report about a ‘brutal bashing’ in East Melbourne is in breach of the Australian Communications and Media Authority guidelines, it has ruled.

The report, from 5pm on September 8, 2018, detailed a bashing involving three males perpetrators and two male victims after an AFL game. It captured footage of the assault, which appeared to have been filmed from a mobile device.

Ten Eyewitness News at Five, now known as 10 News First, has breached the ACMA’s guidelines

Ten’s coverage, which ran on regional broadcaster WIN, depicted the victim being punched repeatedly in the face, as well as another victim being attacked in the background. The presenter described the assault as ‘brutal’.

Following the 26-second report, a complaint was sent to the ACMA, alleging the program contained ‘extreme violence not suitable for adults or children’.

The licensee said the footage did not meet the threshold of seriously distressing or offending a large number of viewers, and argued the footage was grainy and blurred, adding the participants were not shown in close-up. No audio accompanied the footage, the licensee added, and neither WIN nor Network Ten receive any Code complaints.

But compliance with the ACMA is not determined by number of complaints, but rather by the nature of the content and public interest reasons for broadcasting it.

The ACMA accepted the licensee’s submission there was a public interest reason to cover this story and update the public, and the fact the program was for adults primarily.

However, the ACMA did not believe there were public interest reasons for the footage of the victim being punched approximately 15 times for almost 20 seconds.

“It is the ACMA’s view that, for the above reasons, the licensee could not reasonably be of the opinion that the material was not likely to seriously distress a substantial number of viewers,” it ruled.

The ACMA also said that despite some post-production blurring of footage, the licensee did not exercise enough care in selecting the material. It requested Network Ten and WIN television incorporate the ACMA’s investigation into its compliance training.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said said broadcasters must exercise care in selecting material that will not seriously distress or offend a large amount of viewers.

“Broadcasters can report matters of public interest, including topics such as violent attacks. However they must exercise care in selecting material that will not seriously distress or offend a substantial number of viewers’, said O’Loughlin.


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