The Nine Network has agreed to overhaul its complaint-handling systems after receiving a public dressing down by the communications regulator.
The broadcaster agreed to an enforceable undertaking on May 6, which outlines improved steps of response to viewer complaints – notably including a commitment to provide the media watchdog with regular reports for the term of the agreement (or until December 2012).
“This undertaking follows numerous breaches of complaint-handling provisions since 2006 by the Nine Network, which Nine itself had acknowledged to be unacceptable,” said ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, in a statement.
The watchful eye of ACMA has been firmly centered on the broadcaster after repeated breaches of the code over the past few years.
In 2010 the network flaunted the three-day blackout leading up to the Victorian election when it aired a political advertisement – only a year after providing the regulator with other enforceable undertakings in the wake of classification concerns over shows Underbelly and Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.
The network has also been brought to task on matters of taste and discrimination. Notable incident include Sam Newman (The Footy Show AFL) stapling the face of sports journalist Caroline Wilson to a naked mannequin on air – the stunt that left star and show on a 6-month probation with the regulator.
Another incident involving The Footy Show AFL, where a Malaysian man was ridiculed, saw $200,000 safely into the hands of charity courtesy of the broadcaster.
“By offering this EU, Nine has shown its commitment to address the problem and the ACMA welcomes its pro-active approach,” continued the ACMA chairman in statement.
The full terms of the new complaint procedures are listed below and can be found at the ACMA website.
After writing a letter of complaint, viewers can now expect that:
• Nine will send responses to postal complaints by either registered mail or Express Post;
• Nine will maintain a register of all code complaints.
The ACMA can expect that:
• Nine will provide the ACMA with a monthly report on complaints received and processed;
• Nine will provide the ACMA with quarterly reports on compliance prepared by an independent auditor.