Nine News breaches Code over privacy

Nine has breached the Code of Practice after a Nine News Melbourne report disclosed the residential address of two police officers.

An October 2019 report on a taxi crashing into a residential home revealed the home was the residence of two police officers and a breach of their privacy.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that across three different bulletins the reports also identified the house number and street name – with one report also including the name of the suburb.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said, “Privacy breaches of this nature can cause a lot of distress to those impacted.

“The combination of the three reports intruded on the privacy of these officers when there was no public interest in doing so.”

Under the Code, TV broadcasters are not permitted to broadcast material that invades a person’s privacy unless there is a public interest reason or consent has been given from an individual to do so. Nine did not seek permission for the report from the residents.

Nine also told ACMA, “…Nine notes that it generally would have obscured the house number as a matter of courtesy to residents. This was inadvertently not done in this case and as such the specific house number was fleetingly and incidentally visible during the Reports.”

The ACMA investigation found significant safety reasons for not disclosing the residential addresses of serving police officers.

The report also included an image of a uniformed male police officer visible through the damaged front windows, moving through the interior of the house. The complainant submitted that he was one of the residents and that this footage identified him to the viewer as a resident of the house.

“Broadcasters know the rules and have a responsibility to follow the Code. This incident is a reminder that broadcasters must make careful assessments about information they disclose in reporting,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Channel Nine has removed the material from their online platforms and apologised to the two people involved for any distress caused.

Nine will also reinforce Code obligations and the breach finding with staff to ensure future compliance.

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