A Current Affair story on Asian retailers breached Code of Practice

2013-09-13_1006A sensationalist story about Sydney shopkeepers being kicked out to make way for “an Asian enclave” on A Current Affair has breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

The November 2012 story “All Asian Mall” centred on tenant changes at Castle Mall,  in Castle Hill, Sydney. But the report branded the centre “the great mall of China” and included Pauline Hanson saying it was un-Australian and tenants should “go back to where you came from.”

Media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority found the segment:
-contained inaccurate factual material
-placed a gratuitous emphasis on ethnic origin
-was likely to provoke intense dislike and serious contempt on the grounds of ethnic origin

The story suggested Asian speciality shops would occupy ‘almost all’ of the lower level of the Castle Mall in Castle Hill. But ACMA found the plan was that four of 16 retailers were to be Asian speciality shops.

On the claim that ‘Aussie shopkeepers’ had been forced to move out to make way for new retailers targeting the suburb’s Asian population, ACMA concluded the new retailers were being introduced because other shops had already closed down.

To suggestions that centre management’s plan was to force other retailers to vacate the mall by ‘kicking them out’, the plan was actually to relocate them within the mall. Suggestions that a butcher ‘had to move’ were also incorrect.

2013-09-13_1008ACMA also found that the story portrayed people of Asian ethnicity in a negative light by placing gratuitous emphasis on Asian ethnicity in contrast with Australian nationality. The story was also found to be likely to have provoked intense dislike or serious contempt by broadcasting:

-negative misinformation about Australians of Asian ethnic origins
-inflammatory language and visuals generating feelings of threat from people of Asian ethnic origins
-language implying that Australians of Asian ethnic origins did not belong in Australia.

Under current ACMA rules, the media watchdog cannot ‘fine’ or ‘prosecute’ a broadcaster for breaching a code, but Nine has agreed to air a correction in A Current Affair tonight.

The original video on ACA‘s website has been removed.

15 Comments:

  1. Programs that violate the rules should be forced off the air for a period of time. Theres just no way that the networks even care if or what rules they break. The story still got out there, and theres nothing stopping them from breaking rules time, after time, after time, after time. The ACMA is a joke.

  2. This sort of crap tv makes ACA and TT money and until people stop watching this stuff it will continue. ACA should be made to correct the story and apologise, and give the correction the same space as the original story. More people should turn over to The Project.

  3. Same old Same old cop out, as with the ACCC regarding duopolies, fuel discount vouches, price gouging within the fuel supply industry and the list goes on and on……

    Cant consumers/viewers see that these and many other regulatory bodies only want just enough power to justify their existence, but never enough power to increase their work load and achieve results that may eventually reduce their justification, much like our politicians do when drafting laws with many get out clauses, enabling many in the legal fraternity to spend up big on caviar and champagne for personal and entertainment lobbying purposes.
    There may have been a change in government,and but for a few vindictive get square exceptions, little else will ever change.

  4. Glad to see the ACMA are not only incapable of enforcing any punishment for programming breaches but that they are also unable to do it a timely manner (the story was in November 2012!). Time for some change to ACMA!

    • ACMA has actually acknowledged its limited powers in its Press Release either in response to ongoing community feedback about the lack of punishment (especially in the case of Austereo), or to exert influence on government to give them more power. My hunch is it’s the latter. Will be interesting to see watch how Malcolm Turnbull moves.

  5. The story aside for a minute and here is another classic case where we get the “You did something wrong but we can’t do a damn thing” from ACMA. They really need to give them the power to fine these networks and/or prosecute them. Maybe then we will stop getting stories like these that we see nightly on Seven, Nine and other networks because they don’t care 100% on facts. Things have to change because they keep getting a slap on the wrist and then thats where its left because ACMA can’t do a thing about it.

  6. I lived in the area for 40 years and Castle Mall was totally moribund. It was doing okay I suppose until they built Castle Towers opposite. This grew rapidly to become one of Australia’s best centres.

    The Mall wasn’t on the main road, it was buried in a lane running parallel, therefore had no visibility. Shops came and went, some managed to stick it out. The Chinese started moving in in small ways as the Asian population grew. I left before all this happened, but I would imagine it’s way better than it was (Asian butchers are so cheap!) and I would have welcomed the changes. It was pretty hopeless in its previous incarnation.

    And what a surprise – ACA got it all wrong. Who would have thought.

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