A Current Affair in hot water after ACMA picks holes in Neil Brooks story

04 April, 2013 by Emily Blatchford

Channel Nine’s A Current Affair is under fire from the Australian Communications and Media Authority after the organisation found the program to have breached provisions on factual accuracy, privacy and complaints handling.

The story in question, presented by reporter Amanda Paterson in March last year and running over 19 minutes, concerned former Olympic gold medallist Neil Brooks and his wife.


ACMA’s 32-page investigation report, released today, found that “the program had insufficient evidence to support its claim during a 5 March, 2012 broadcast that police in Australia, the United States and France were investigating allegations of fraud against the former swimmer and his wife.” 

The ACMA also found the program had breached the privacy of Brooks’ wife by showing her driver’s licence and French address on camera and that the program had failed to adequately respond to the complaints of Brooks after the segment went to air. 

However there were also a number of alleged breaches ACMA has dismissed, namely because they were not considered to be “factual material,” had inconclusive evidence or that an “ordinary reasonable viewer” would not interpret statements as fact. 

For instance, statements from Paterson such as “The gold medal Olympian turned gold medal conman,” and “[The Brooks] are currently holed up in a villa somewhere hatching their next plan” were deemed by ACMA as “emotive, hyperbolic and/or opinion” and subsequently dismissed as breaches. 

Channel Nine has accepted the organisation’s findings and will be acknowledging the incidents on their website. 

Contact Emily Blatchford at eblatchford@if.com.au or on Twitter at @EmilyBlatchford