Commercial and Community sectors comment on ABA code report

The Commercial and Community Radio Sectors have both succeeded in reducing the number of regulatory breaches in the past year.

Commercial radio’s industry body is pleased that the Commercial Radio sector accounted for only two of the 50 breach findings by the Australian Broadcasting Authority last financial year (reported on radioinfo last week).

“This is down from five the previous year, and demonstrates that the industry takes its responsibilities under the codes of practice very seriously… In addition, there were no breaches of licence conditions.” says chief executive officer Joan Warner.

The Commercial Radio Codes of Practice were developed by the industry and are part of the co-regulatory process which is administered by the ABA. The codes cover a wide range of issues including material unsuitable for broadcast, complaints handling, advertising, news and current affairs, Australian music content and the broadcast of emergency information.

“The majority of complaints received by radio stations were resolved satisfactorily through the stations’ complaint processes. Of complaints progressed to and investigated by the ABA, only two were found in breach, which indicates that the Codes of Practice are working extremely well. The commercial radio sector is committed to meeting the requirements of the Codes of Practice,” according to Warner.

In the Community Radio Sector, the recent registration of new Codes of Practice “had immediate and powerful results,” according to CBAA President David Melzor.

There has been a 72% reduction in investigations resulting in Codes breaches by community radio stations – down from 25 last year to the current 7. The code is part of the co-regulatory process between broadcasters and the ABA.

David Melzer says: “The ABA’s latest findings highlight the increasing community sector professionalism and accountability. As management practices develop and broad community participation is revitalised, the CBAA expects fewer conflict resolution breaches.

The registration of a revised Community Broadcasting Code of Practice by the ABA in 2002-03 represented a greatly improved co-regulatory environment. Officers of the CBAA and the ABA developed a dialogue that continues to produce constructive outcomes.”

Melzer says one downside of the figures is “the slight increase from 12 to 13 of breaches found in the area of broadcast advertisements. The highlights the pressure under which many stations feel to find commercial revenue. This is a direct result in the reduction of strategic government funding on a per station basis over the last few years. This has potential impact on the operations of commercial stations in the same market.”

The CBAA is lobbying the government for “short-term and strategic funding options.”

The breach investigations were reported in the ABA’s Annual Report 2002/03 which was released last week.