Complaints by viewers to commercial television stations have skyrocketed since an email complaints system was introduced in March 2010 via the Free TV website.
From July 2009 – June 2010 there were 1,292 viewers complaints received nationwide. But from July 2010 – June 2011 they leapt to 2,816 complaints.
News, current affairs and commercials attracted the highest complaint numbers, with 33% related to the classification, 22.2% complaining about discrimination and 16.3% on Bias / Inaccuracy.
But only 2.2% of viewers who did not feel their complaint was adequately addressed by networks followed up with the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Of the 61 Code complaints referred to the ACMA, 16 were upheld.
Julie Flynn, CEO of Free TV Australia talked up the results as evidence that the Code was working well.
“This is a great report card. It shows that broadcasters take their Code obligations very seriously and that the Code of Practice continues to reflect community standards. Viewers and broadcasters can be confident that the Code is working effectively,” she said.
Of the complaints regarding Classification, 65% were related to Sex / Nudity issues, followed by Language (13%) and Violence (12%). Nearly half were regarding incidents in the PG timezone.
There were also big increases in complaints about Classification with 929 complaints (up from 571 the previous year), Discrimination 624 (152), Bias / Inaccuracy 458 (98) and Commercials 420 (14).
Free TV Australia has not revealed any numbers to indicate which network received the most complaints, but the data does not cover Public Broadcasters nor Pay TV nor complaints about scheduling.