The Australian Communications and Media Authority has informed Digital Broadcasters Vendor News of its decision on a breach of the Australian Broadcasting Code. The breach refers to soon-to-be digital radio station, 2GB Sydney that breached the code by broadcasting material on The "Open-Line" Show that was likely to vilify people of Lebanese background on the basis of ethnicity. The programme was aired by 2GB presenter, Brian Wilshire, on December 15, 2005.
While ACMA found the material was presented for a purpose in the public interest, being discussion of factors contributing to unrest in southern Sydney, ACMA was not persuaded that the comments were presented reasonably and in good faith for this purpose.
ACMA found 2GB breached clause 1.3(e) of the code. Under this clause, a licensee must not broadcast a program which is likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on the basis of a number of attributes, including ethnicity.
The licensee advised ACMA that it took immediate action after the broadcast. An apology was aired on the day following the broadcast on the Channel 10 TV news and on radio station 2GB itself.
Station 2GB staff including all presenters and production staff have undergone "compliance training" since the broadcast and been briefed ‘about the importance of ensuring that in discussing current affairs, criticisms of particular types of conduct is reasonable, but criticisms that are based on persons having any of the attributes listed in code 1.3(e) are not’.
Digital Broadcasters Vendor News as a public service brings this matter to a wider audience to heighten the point that broadcasters in democracies like Australia have clearly defined responsibilities as set out by law.