The Australian Communications and Media Authority will investigate whether the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice (the code) and existing industry practices provide sufficient safeguards for participants and subjects in live-hosted entertainment programs on commercial radio.

‘Recent public concern in relation to an episode of the Kyle and Jackie O Show, broadcast by 2Day FM, has highlighted broader issues about the treatment of participants and subjects involved in ‘stunt’ or ‘prank’ calls, competitions and challenges on commercial radio,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.

‘The ACMA acknowledges that the broadcasting sector should generally be able to experiment with program genres and styles which may be attractive to its audiences. However, the strength of community concern expressed about the practices of some live-hosted entertainment programs and the ACMA’s own assessments indicate that there is emerging evidence that the current regulatory arrangements may not be keeping pace with industry practice and community standards.’

The ACMA investigation will be conducted under section 170 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) and will operate in addition to any specific investigation that the ACMA may undertake into the recent episode of the Kyle and Jackie O Show concerning a lie detector being used on a minor.

‘Under the co-regulatory framework enshrined in the Broadcasting Services Act, a code complaint into the recent incident on the Kyle and Jackie O Show would, in the normal course, be dealt with between a complainant and the licensee, with the ACMA then commencing an investigation if it receives notification from a complainant that he or she is not satisfied with 2Day FM’s response,’ Mr Chapman said.

The ACMA expects broadcasters to deal with matters of such strong community concern quickly and effectively. The ACMA will be considering very carefully the actions taken by the licensee to address the concerns of the community about this incident.

In exploring this issue, the Authority is seeking to take a broad approach which considers industry practice generally, current community concerns and attitudes and the responsiveness of industry to these concerns.

The ACMA is calling for submissions from the public and the industry and will consider all relevant information and evidence. The ACMA will also consider existing and commissioned research and have regard to international experience, including findings from a broader research study undertaken by the ACMA earlier this year relating to this matter.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the ACMA will determine whether any change to the current regulatory arrangements is required. The ACMA expects to work closely with industry to expedite this investigation and expects that it will be concluded by December 2009.