ACMA will appeal to High Court in nurse case

The ACMA has been given approval to appeal to the High Court in the ‘royal prank call’ case.

In March this year, the federal court upheld 2Day’s argument that the ACMA did not have the authority to rule on whether 2Day had broken the law by broadcasting a prank call to the Duchess of Cambridge in December 2012.

The ruling was part of a legal battle aimed at surpressing the ACMA’s investigation report on the case.

The ACMA investigation found that 2Day had breached NSW surveillance laws, but 2Day argued that the broadcast regulator did not have the right to determine a matter of criminal guilt.

2Day finally won that round, but now the ACMA will test its position in Australia’s highest judicial forum.

Solicitor General J T Gleeson outlined the ACMA’s view as to why it should be able to appeal, saying:

“The question we seek to pose is whether an administrative body charged with the power to investigate and report upon whether a licensed service has been used in the commission of an offence as a step towards potential further action against the licence is precluded from acting unless and until a criminal court has found guilt. That is the question. What lies beneath it is the more general proposition expressed by the Full Court that there is a general common law principle across the system in Australia, federal and State, which requires such a result… “   (See full transcript of the appeal court proceedings here)

In a statement, SCA CEO Rhys Holleran said:

“All commercial radio and television broadcasters are very concerned that the Australian Communications and Media Authority decided several years ago to reverse its previous application of broadcasting law and to judge for itself the alleged criminal guilt of broadcasters rather than leaving that judgment to the courts based on proper evidence. Southern Cross Austereo considers that the unanimous decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court is completely correct and will continue to argue its position in the High Court.”

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