ACMA slaps ACA over “secretive” ministry in classrooms

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The Nine network has been found to be in breach of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice after a story on A Current Affair about religion taught in Victorian schools was ruled to be misleading.

The June 2014 story reported on the “secretive methods” of Access Ministries, an inter-denominational Christian organisation, and its delivery of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in Victorian public primary schools.

“…they’re paid millions of dollars by governments to deliver religious instruction in our state schools. Now, they’re not meant to try and convert the kids, but critics say that’s exactly what they’re doing,” said ACA.

But ACMA found breaches in relation to two of five accuracy complaints, by conveying to the viewer that Access Ministries was:

  • misleading parents about the nature of the religious instruction it provided
  • dishonest and secretive in its use of ‘hidden codes’ to convert children.

ACMA found if the segment had included a direct discussion of the role of SRI in the Victorian education system, the problems with the broadcast might have been avoided.

However it did clear Nine on other complaints about accuracy, religious vilification, creating public panic and negative portrayal of the organisation on the basis of gratuitous emphasis on religion.

Nine has indicated it will ensure relevant staff are aware of the results of the investigation and will provide further training in reference to these findings.

This week TV Tonight readers voted “Punishment for breaches of the Code of Practice” as Very Important in the annual Audience Inventory.

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