ACMA Reports on Decency, Classification and Harm and Offence

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released a third paper in its Investigation concepts series, an initiative developed to share insights from the ACMA’s broadcasting investigations work. This latest paper considers the requirements in broadcasting for decency, classification and harm and offence as set out in the various broadcasting codes and how the ACMA has applied those provisions.

“In this paper we sought to cast light on the increasingly complex question of where one draws the line today between content that is offensive to some individuals and content that simply should not be broadcast,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

“Drawing that line is challenging because there are a range of standards that are not hard and fast, either over time or across all sections of the community. In view of that reality, this paper is designed to provide a clear and measured account of our work and is therefore intended to improve understandings around what are often nuanced and complex matters.”

This third paper seeks to capture:

  • the requirements relating to decency, classification and harm and offence;
  • the way the ACMA ‘operationalises’ these requirements in its work, having regard to community standards and expectations in broadcasting; and 
  • the shifting and evolving nature of ‘community standards’ over time.

Investigation concepts—Decency, classification, and harm and offence follows the earlier released Accuracy and Fairness papers and includes links to relevant investigations to allow readers to more thoroughly explore the application, in practice, of the relevant provisions.

The Investigation concepts series was conceived to assist a broad range of stakeholders to better appreciate the ACMA’s approach to the broadcasting code requirements. The papers in this series are ‘living’ documents, with the ACMA regularly updating the information in each to keep them current. The ACMA welcomes feedback on the papers and is also seeking suggestions for further topics for papers in the series.

Visit www.acma.gov.au


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