No bleepin’? Replay breaches SBS Code of Practice.

EXCLUSIVE: SBS has breached its Code of Practice after it screened footage of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd swearing, during a daytime replay.

In April The Feed reported on the Natasha Exelby’s ABC News gaffe and the surrounding furore, with footage of other TV bloopers. But an afternoon replay neglected to censor language in vision of a leak with former PM Kevin Rudd, and his accompanying F-bombs.

A complaint investigated by the SBS Ombudsman found that the failure to bleep the language was a breach of Code 2.3 (Violence and Distressing Events in News and Current Affairs) of the SBS Code.

SBS has apologised to the complainant ‘Daniel’ and blamed it on a production oversight.

“As a result of this breach the Director of News and Current Affairs, Jim Carroll, has reminded the relevant staff of the need for continued and improved diligence when checking content to ensure that it has been appropriately modified for The Feed’s repeat broadcast,” SBS Ombudsman Sally Begbie noted.

“Such an oversight is rare and SBS wishes to assure you that it takes this matter seriously and is committed to ensuring that the afternoon broadcast of The Feed does not contain coarse language.”

The complainant, satisfied the matter is being remedied by SBS will not be proceeding with a formal complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

ACMA told TV Tonight that self-regulation by broadcasters was allowable and welcomed the finding.

“The self and co-regulatory legislative framework generally requires industry participants to assume responsibility for regulatory detail within their own sectors. This is underpinned by clear legislative obligations, with the regulator maintaining reserve powers. These arrangements provide flexibility for the ACMA to exercise a variety of roles and rely on a variety of ‘levers’, depending on the nature of the concern,” a spokesperson said.

Warning: Language


  1. Dantheman84

    Sometimes acknowledging that you messed up and apologising for the mistake is enough. Now that it has been brought to there attention, you can bet they will pay much closer attention from now on, which is in the end the right result.

  2. Perhaps the “F” word should be removed from the “Distressing Event” list due it’s frequent useage in adult programs. Including an “L” for language on the classification panel at the start of the program should be sufficient warning. Isn’t that it’s raison d’etre? This show is on VICELAND, BTW.

  3. As of the last year or two, ACMA has the right to choose whether or not to investigate complaints.

    Formerly all complaints had to be investigated.

    A content/classification matter with a detailed letter, is more likely to be investigated than a brief complaint about ‘bias’ or something.

  4. So the complaints system – such as it is – worked. Broadcaster breaches their code, viewer complains to broadcaster, broadcaster agrees, complainant is satisfied.

        • Sorry Tex, I was being sarcastic. I agree with you completely, complaint lodged then fixed. Its surprising how often it isnt the case though!

          • I suspect there are more that are satisfactorily resolved without proceeding to the regulator. But without reporting how do you ever know self-regulation is at work?

          • No worries 😉

            In response to David: SBS used to list resolved complaints on their website, but stopped sometime in the last few years. The ABC still does, although now they’re abridged – they used to publish names, & there were lots of ‘frequent flyers’ from politics and activism complaining about bias against ‘their’ side.

            Istr the commercials also used to list them, but that’s going back many years & I may be wrong…

        • eastwest101

          Sorry – you are correct David – it was investigated internally by the SBS Ombudsman – my point remains though that there were zero consequences for the breach. In most workplaces a mistake or breach of procedure requiring external or internal investigation will result in some sort of disciplinary action or change in procedures, I don’t see that being mentioned here, no action = tolerance of future breaches

          • Change in procedure is noted in the story. I have noted in the past in Australia we do have a problem in slaps after the event, rather than everybody overhauling their procedures to avoid these mistakes in the first place. It’s always “we will train our staff to ensure this doesn’t occur again.” Why are staff not fully conversant from the get go?

      • Secret Squïrrel

        Hardly zero – minor consequences for a minor breach. It is as it should be.

        ACMA doesn’t waste resources because it has so very little to start with. It requires more resources so that it can be more effective. Or would you prefer the commercial TV networks to self-regulate? We’ve seen how well that works with the newspapers.

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