Watchdog investigation into MAFS

ACMA investigation looks into a range of issues raised in MAFS complaints over several episodes.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is proceeding with an investigation into Married at First Sight, following a flurry of viewer complaints over this year’s season.

In April, at least 54 complaints were received by the authority. Nine had 60 days to address those with complainants, but those dissatisfied would be investigated by the media watchdog.

The Sunday Herald Sun said ACMA did not reveal how many were proceeding, nor which episodes.

“The ACMA has commenced an investigation into episodes of the 2021 season of Married At First Sight and is currently assessing the scope of the investigation noting the range of issues raised in complaints over several episodes,” AMCA said in a statement.

In April Nine has sent a lengthy two page letter to complainants in which it apologised for “any concerns which may have been raised by your viewing of the Program” but it defended the content as keeping with its classification (M on weeknights but PG for 7pm Sundays).

It followed a petition which accused the show of leaving participants subjected to “gaslighting, emotional manipulation, isolation, and countless other TEXTBOOK signs of a controlling and or abusive relationship.” Over 15,000 people signed the petition.

Earlier John Walsh, Network Executive Producer, told advertising & marketing site B&T, “The petition in question does not reflect the nature of Bryce and Melissa’s relationship and at no time did Endemol Shine Australia or Nine consider Bryce and Melissa’s relationship to be characterised by domestic violence or the like. If that had been the case we would have intervened immediately.

“Our first priority in making MAFS is to make sure all the participants feel they are operating in a safe environment. At a briefing of participants prior to commencement of filming, the importance of alerting production if they felt unsafe or uncomfortable with their partners at any time was reinforced. We understand meeting and marrying someone at first sight and living with them for eight weeks can be a potentially daunting experience and we would not persist with a scenario where someone does not feel safe.”

6 Responses

  1. This could be interesting.

    I’d imagine they’ll be closely reviewing the Sunday episode tapes (as played-out too), as those “PG” guidelines are a lot more strict. MAFS definitely doesn’t seem suited to it at all, a la “M” weekday eps.

    So ACMA will have to closely look what editing / techniques they did to lower the content or Nine might have to detail.

    I think “themes” (which is a broad element) could become a problem for these Sunday eps for Nine, which would fall under a lot of these complaints about the nature/topics/discussions/material of contestants and storyline of eps.

  2. Of the 15,000 people signing the petition, how many of those don’t actually watch the program? I could easily sign a petition advocating for the removal of or find offence in MAFS but I’d rather my fingers do the walking and watch something of value or entertaining. While 15,000 have signed a petition I bet more than that number have raced to an application form in the vain hope of appearing on the next season.

  3. I am no prude but how about they investigate the perception that this behaviour is normal and acceptable and isn’t impacting the way our kids and any other impressionable people behave……moral degradation.

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