Media watchdog ACMA has ruled that WIN Television has breached the Commercial TV Industry Code of Practice after indirectly identifying the victim of a fatal NSW car accident before authorities notified the immediate family of the victim.
In a Nine News update which aired in August 2014, footage was briefly visible of part of a number plate of one of the cars involved in the accident.
An investigation by the Australian Media and Communications Authority found that the visible part of the number plate, combined with the vehicle’s specific make and colour, was distinctive enough to be recognisable to immediate family members.
Clause 4.3.8 of the Code requires that ‘in broadcasting news and current affairs programs, licensees must take all reasonable steps to ensure that murder or accident victims are not identified directly or, where practicable, indirectly before their immediate families are notified by the authorities’.
“The complainant asserted that they were able to identify the victim, their mother-in-law, based on the image of the partial number plate shown in the broadcast,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. “This was a crucial factor in the ACMA finding a breach.”
It’s not the first time an incident of this nature has occurred. Last year Seven News in Perth also breached the Code after road accident footage revealed a motorcycle top box, a black backpack, and a white plastic bag, again causing the family to identify the victim.
While the latest case involved Nine News, the complainant viewed the broadcast via WIN Television Victoria.
As a result of the breach, WIN TV has undertaken to:
- ensure its news team is aware of the result of the investigation and the ACMA’s reasoning
- provide further training to its news teams on how to better handle these types of matters in future, and to include this investigation in its code training materials.
WIN TV has also apologised to the family.