Foxtel breaches rules about political matter

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited (Foxtel) has breached the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) by not broadcasting the 'required particulars' following the broadcast of political matter. Required particulars include the name of the person or organisation who authorised the broadcast.

The ACMA investigated the broadcast on 13 February 2017 of promotions from The Equality Campaign's 'Marriage Equality: It's only fair' series. These promotions comprised a 30-second advertisement broadcast on Sky News Live during a program break in The Bolt Report and a 13-second information ticker looped across the bottom of the screen alongside news headlines and sports results.

The ACMA investigation found that the advertisement and ticker constituted political matter because they sought to influence public opinion about the issue of marriage equality. Further, they were broadcast at the request of another person (Australian Marriage Equality Limited) and no particulars were broadcast. These matters were not disputed by Foxtel, which indicated that the absence of the required particulars was inadvertent.

The rules for broadcasting political matter do not seek to prevent the publication of material but rather seek to improve transparency and accountability in relation to political messaging. Further, political matter is not confined to material broadcast in the context of an election campaign.

In response to the ACMA's findings, the licensee has undertaken to work with producers of programming and associated advertising sales agents in relation to the broadcasting of political matter, and has implemented additional compliance controls to ensure channels not owned or operated by Foxtel meet the political advertising obligations.

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