Media watchdog The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found Tamworth-based Prime7’s Local News in breach of the Commercial TV Industry Code of Practice after screening video footage of an alleged school bully.
The footage that aired on 2 March 2016 included video footage that had been copied by a third party from Snapchat. Prime did not obtain consent from the child’s parents to broadcast the material.
ACMA found that the alleged bully was identifiable from the video footage and that their involvement in the incident, suspension from school and a related police investigation, constituted sensitive personal information concerning the child.
It accepted that it was in the public interest for the viewing audience to be made aware of allegations of bullying, but noted that that public interest could have been served without showing the video footage in the form used.
ACMA rules Prime failed to exercise special care and breached clause 3.5 of the Code in relation to privacy, but cleared it in relation to accuracy.
In recent years ACMA has stepped up its guidelines regarding Privacy.
The Code also obliges commercial television licensees to exercise ‘special care’ before broadcasting material relating to a child’s personal or private affairs in a report of a sensitive matter concerning the child.
In response to the ACMA’s findings, Prime has agreed to:
conducted legal and ethics training with all staff at the Prime Tamworth office and discussed this particular matter with all Prime’s news editors;
scheduled further training in the 2016/17 financial year across all markets as part of its regular training program; and
introduced an online legal compliance quiz that must be completed to a satisfactory standard by all journalists upon employment with Prime.
The news report of the alleged incident is no longer available on Prime’s website.