Australian Broadcasting Authority - Law
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Have you ever wondered who regulates what we see on tv and the internet, and what we hear on the radio? Ever thought about if the content of what we watch on tv follows a set of compulsory standards? Well, you will no longer have to ponder over these questions because today we will be telling you all about the organization which is responsible for these things: the Australian Broadcasting Authority, commonly termed the ABA.
Firstly, we will be outlining the mission statement of the organization, so that you may understand the general idea of why this organization exists.
We will then be telling you the activities that the Australian Broadcasting Authority does. Following this we will be outlining the organizations relevance to the marketing sector, as well as telling you about their code of ethics and rules of conduct.
The Australian Broadcasting Authority exists to promote a quality media environment, and to serve as a facilitator through which the wants and needs of the Australian public may be met, in relation to what is broadcast through the media vehicles in Australia.
The Australian Broadcasting Authority is primarily in existence to protect the Australian public from any offensive or harmful material that may be broadcast in Australia, and so is responsible for a number of activities which serve to regulate what is broadcast.
The organization regulates what is broadcast in the Australian media through radio, television and internet content. This involves developing program standards and assisting broadcasting service providers to create these standards. The Australian Broadcast Authority also monitors compliance with license conditions, as well as investigating complaints about broadcasting and internet services, which may be lodged on the Australian Broadcasting Authority website. It is also the duty of the organization to monitor trends and advances in broadcasting technology and the ABA is required to inform the Minister for Communications, the Information Technology and the Arts about advances and trends in broadcasting technology.
The Australian Broadcasting Authority also plans the availability of segments of the broadcasting services band (e.g. FM, AM radio), as well as having the power to allocate, renew, suspend and cancel licenses and collect any fees payable for those licenses.
Essentially, the organization aims to ensure that all news is reported fairly and that community standards are respected. Their moral code is to make certain that all material that is broadcasted by various forms of media, does not contain anything that it shouldn’t.
For example, the content of a children’s television show broadcast on channel 10 at 4:30pm weekdays, must not contain anything explicit, such as nudity.
They follow a code to ensure that the community is protected and is not submitted to any broadcast material that is unsuitable or breaches rules and codes set by the Australian Broadcasting Authority
The Australian broadcasting Authority does not handle complaints about the content of advertisements broadcasted, but does handle complaints about:
• television captioning
• tobacco advertising
• political advertising
• election material
• sponsorship announcements on community radio
• access to membership of a community radio association
• advertisements about medicine
• matters relating to the Children's Television Standards
Organizations relevance to the marketing sector:
The Australian Broadcasting Authority has relevance to the marketing sector, as it limits the ways in which organizations can market their products to the Australian public, as well as how television shows are marketed and the content that is seen. For example, due to the regulations enforced by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, advertisements which are directly marketed to children would not be allowed on air, as the ABA Code of Ethics states that, due to their developmental levels, require special consideration in areas such as advertising.
Code of Ethics:
The Australian broadcasting authority does not have one general code of ethics, rather, they have various codes of ethics that apply to the range of broadcasting media, such as television, the radio, and the internet.
The objectives of the Code are to ensure that the information in the broadcasting is legal, decent, honest and truthful and has been prepared with a sense of obligation to the consumer and society and a fair sense of responsibility to competitors.
An example is the code of ethics for advertising to children. Part of it states that advertisements to children must not mislead or deceive children; must not be unclear; and must fairly represent, in a manner that is clearly understood by children: the advertised product; any features that are described or depicted in the advertisement and the need for any accessory parts. The objective of the Code is to ensure all agencies and advertisers develop and maintain the highest level of social responsibility in advertising to children.
It covers such topics as safety, social value, prices, competitions, premiums, alcohol, and food and beverages.
Rules of conduct:
The ABA enforces rules of conduct that must be followed by all radio and television stations, internet websites and phone services. These rules of conduct vary according to the type of broadcasting media being used.
Because there are so many different codes and standards created by the ABA, we have chosen to inform you about two of these today.
The example that I will tell you about is the standard for children’s television. This standard states that the ABA has a commitment to providing children with quality programs made specifically for them, and so monitors what children’s programs are broadcast. The types of programs classified by the ABA include: preschool, quiz and drama programs in a variety of animated and live action formats. These programs are classified with a distinctive C (children's), with such programs as ‘Goodsports’, P (preschool), such as ‘Hi-5’ or C drama classification, such as ‘Thunderstone’. They are specifically made for a child audience, and have to be entertaining, well produced and likely to enhance a child's experience.
The standards also enforce that minimum annual quotas of P and C classified programs must be aired. These are the only programs which are classified by the ABA before they are put to air. The P and C classifications are different to the G, PG, M and MA classifications which inform viewers of the program content by indicating the level of violence, sex and nudity and language. G, PG, M and MA programs are classified by the broadcasters, not the ABA.
The example that I will be telling you about is the standard for commercial free to air television. One of the Australian Broadcasting authorities objectives is to promote the role of broadcasting in reflecting a sense of Australian identity and character.
That is one of the reasons why this particular code enforces that Australian content on commercial television is regulated by a mandatory standard, that requires all commercial free-to-air television licensees to broadcast an annual minimum broadcast share of 55 per cent Australian programming between 6am and midnight. In addition, there are specific minimum annual share times for Australian adult drama, documentary and childrens programs.
The codes operate for a period of 12 months, at which time they are reviewed to take account of developments in content filtering technologies and any community concerns which arise during this period.