Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Australia - the ACMA TV Watchdog rules several episodes of Big Brother series in 2005 as Gratuitous Sex and nothing more

March 21

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (formerly the Australian Broadcasting Authority) has ruled that digital broadcaster, Network TEN's Big Brother program series during the Summer of 2005 on at least three occasions breached the Australian Commercial Television Code of Practice. In layman's terms what it ruled on was showing of explicit and gratuitous sex at times inappropriate for youngsters under 15 years of age.

[Editor speak] The ruling is significant. It shows that in today's age where it seems anything goes, impressionable youngsters should not have adult themes dished up on their viewing plate just because the TV stations seek a ratings advantage over competing networks. It is as though programmers knowingly continually push to the legal limit of responsibility, and as proven with this judgement beyond acceptable levels.

The ACMA acted on just two written complaints. They came from perhaps more conservative viewing areas of Perth and Brisbane but the ACMA acknowledges that the Big Brother series had caused a lot of discussion across the areas served by the terrestrial network of TEN TV licensees (and that means most of the country) following broadcast of episodes that went too far.

Not too late, the Network TEN management is acknowledged by the ACMA to have been co-operative in ensuring that ongoing Reality TV type programming should be handled with more care and adherence to the broadcast code of practice as laid out by law. Already, the Big Brother Production staff have been briefed how to handle the 2006 series for the TV Network.

This is not just another ruling because for once the ACMA is making a loud and clear public statement as to the required limits to be adhered to for decent prime time viewing. [Gerald Brown]

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