The Nine Network has come under fire for airing CrownBet ads during a children’s movie.
While Senator Nick Xenophon and his team failed to get an amendment to prohibit gambling ads on television through the Senate last week, the issue has caused the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to act anyway.
The Commercial TV Industry Code of Practice 2015 already makes it illegal for stations to broadcast gambling advertisements during G-rated programs and between the hours of 5:00 am and 8:30 pm per section 6.5.1 of the code.
But an investigation into whether Channel Nine breached the code by broadcasting CrownBet ads during a children’s film is the first of its kind the ACMA has undertaken.
ACMA launched the investigation into the network after receiving complaints and has found the station guilty of airing six gambling ads between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm on September 30, 2016.
The film, the Spiderwick Chronicles, is rated PG (Parental Guidance for persons under 15) and was aired on Channel Nine’s GO station during the school holidays.
“The restriction on gambling adverting was expanded in the 2015 code to address community concern about children’s exposure to betting and gambling advertising,” acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean, said.
The CrownBet ads were promoting betting markets for the 2016 AFL Grand Final and included odds for the first goal scorer.
“Since the code came into effect in December 2015, these types of commercials cannot be broadcast in programs principally directed to children, regardless of their classification,” Bean said.
During the investigation, Nine defended its decision to air the ads arguing the film was classified PG and “a film being based on a children’s book and being told from the perspective of a child are not reliable indications of whether the film is principally directed to children.”
But ACMA didn’t agree, stating a “reasonable viewer” would quickly learn the movie was aimed at children and the rules applied “regardless of classification.”
ACMA also added the rules were created “to address community concern about children’s exposure to betting and gambling advertising.”
Nine has since advised it will implement strategies to minimise the chance of breaching the code again in the future and since it’s the network’s first breach “ACMA considers that the compliance issues raised by the investigation have been sufficiently addressed.”
While Senator Xenophon’s amendments failed, a secondary amendment introduced during the Senate debate over the Interactive Gambling Amendment bill 2016 will see gambling ads during live sporting broadcasts phased out.
The secondary amendment needs to pass the lower house – as does the bill – before the rules are enforced. This excludes gambling ads on racing events which have been exempted due to the inability to air odds on the biggest racing day of the year – the Melbourne Cup.
A potential national online point-of-consumption tax is also being considered, but it has not been proposed as an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 yet.
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