SCA fights broadcast conditions in court

Australia’s largest commercial radio network has taken ACMA to court, to fight conditions imposed on its licence in the aftermath of Kyle Sandilands’ on-air tirade against a female journalist.

In that well-known spray, Sandilands blasted the News Limited journalist, labelling her a “fat slag” and a “piece of shit”, resulting in the media watchdog banning 2Day FM from broadcasting anything that fails to reach “generally accepted standards of decency”.

This breach of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice led to ACMA elevating the decency requirement from the Codes to a licence condition, meaning that subsequent infringements could be taken much further, with the 2Day licence potentially being revoked.

SCA fought the sanctions on two fronts, arguing that they should be restricted to the offending program rather than the entire station, and that the length of the licence condition should be reduced to two years, rather than five.

The network’s barrister, Richard Cobden SC, asked the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to take into account “remedial action” that had been taken to prevent breaches occurring in the future, including a lengthened 30-second delay and two censors (flashing red lights) that can be activated to let the breakfast host know when he’s in dangerous territory.

For ACMA, Richard Lancaster SC fought for the condition to remain a 24/7 affair, while recognising that the station had different types of programming. It was suggested that it was up to the broadcaster to implement the licence condition as appropriate.

The parties will be back before the court this month.