Media Release: Wednesday, 21 May, 2008

Senate inquiry hearings into the effectiveness of broadcasting codes of practice have been clearly stacked in favour of maintaining the status quo, with the majority of witnesses coming from the industry itself, the Australian Christian Lobby said today.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said he is concerned that vital community concerns about the lack of effective regulation of the industry and declining television and radio standards will be swept under the carpet by an inquiry which seems more intent on listening to the views of the broadcasting industry than anyone else.

“Just as the complaints process for the broadcasting industry is often completely ineffective, with concerns being snowed and effectively ignored, so too does this inquiry risk going down that path,” Mr Wallace said.

“Obviously the broadcasting industry does need to have a role in the hearings but not the main one. How can the inquiry gain a proper understanding of the effectiveness of the current classification system and complaints process if it’s primarily listening to the industry?”

Six out of the eleven organisations/individuals invited to be witnesses at Friday’s hearings in Adelaide are part of the broadcasting industry, while another is a civil liberties group which opposes further restrictions on the industry. Only two groups, a concerned couple, and a professor have been given the opportunity to present actual concerns about the current broadcasting codes of practice.

Mr Wallace said he was also concerned that the Senate committee conducting the inquiry had chosen to depart from usual practice and gain responses from a television station and three radio stations to ACL’s submission to the inquiry.

Responses appear to have also been sought for a submission from Media Standards Australia.

“This seems like very unusual behaviour. Why have the submissions of ACL and another organisation being singled out from 82 other submissions, and the relevant broadcasting industry players then given a special opportunity to respond? It seems like another case of playing to the interests of the broadcasting industry.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan