Commercial radio says disclosure requirements should be modernised | radioinfo

Commercial radio says disclosure requirements should be modernised

Thursday 30 April, 2020

Commercial Radio Australia has recommended that disclosure requirements should be reviewed and modernised in line with the Government’s aim to move to a more platform-neutral regulatory framework across media.
In its submission to the ACMA’s discussion paper on “Impartiality and Commercial Influence in Broadcast News”, published today, CRA said a review of the disclosure obligations that apply to radio was warranted given changes in the media landscape.
CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner said radio had onerous obligations under the Disclosure Standard and the Commercial Radio Code of Practice, which do not apply to other platforms.
“We support the disclosure of commercial interests which affect current affairs programs, but commercial radio is the only medium with such prescriptive and disproportionate disclosure obligations,” she said.
“CRA does not support the extension of such onerous obligations to other platforms, but believes the gap between commercial radio and other media should be narrowed.
“In the interests of moving towards a more harmonised, platform-neutral regulatory framework, it’s time for the Disclosure Standard to be reviewed.
“The principles enshrined in the Standard are now commonly accepted and applied, and the industry has an exceptionally good compliance record.”
CRA’s submission says no further regulation is needed and recommends the Disclosure Standard should be simplified and modernised to enable the disclosure of relevant commercial arrangements in a more straight-forward way.
CRA’s submission is one of 29 published today and the ACMA, while acknowledging the importance of this issue, has decided to defer further review of these matters due to current industry pressures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The submission questions why commercial radio is referenced in the Discussion Paper, "when it is already so heavily regulated and when no commercial influence complaints have been made in relation to commercial radio for over 10 years. By contrast, the ABC has been the subject of three quarters of all commercial influence complaints between 2015 to 2019, yet is not included in the Discussion Paper." says the CRA Submisson.
The commercial radio industry urges the ACMA to place the disclosure obligations within the Code, where they will be easier to find and understand, to the benefit of both listeners and broadcasters.

A submisson from Free TV says "the Code is working, that breaches are rare exceptions rather than common occurrences and that the Code provides the necessary protections regarding impartiality and commercial influence (as well as in relation to accuracy) that Australians need... There is no question that Free TV broadcasters need to continue to be vigilant in this area. However, there is no evidence to suggest that additional regulatory interventions on Free TV broadcasters are required at this time."

The Australian Association of National Advertisers' submission quotes its recent Code of Ethics review, where no feedback or comments were received calling for greater disclosure requirements under rule 2.7 for broadcast news. The study does highlight new concerns abot social media influencers, saying: "Based on feedback received during the Code of Ethics review, there is some concern that social media influencers may not be clearly disclosing commercial arrangements with advertisers or may be using disclosure tools (e.g. #sp, #spon, #gifted) that are not clearly understood by the relevant audience. The AANA is currently investigating whether the Code of Ethics rules should contain greater guidance in the form of specific disclosure requirements for online influencers and product reviewers."

Twenty eight submissions were received. They can be downloaded here.




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