Regulation of gambling advertising on TV - Live Odds and ACMA

On 26 May 2013, the Prime Minister promisedthat ‘all promotions of odds by gambling companies and commentators will be banned during the broadcast of live sports matches, under new rules’.
The Government has demanded that Australian commercial TV broadcasters amend their codes to ensure a reduction in the promotion and advertising of gambling—especially live odds—during broadcasts of sport.

Codes of Practice
Section 123 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) provides that a ‘Code of Practice’ may be developed by a group representing a particular section of the broadcasting industry. An industry body, FreeTV,performs this role for commercial television operators and has developed the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice. The regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), registered the Code in 2010, having been satisfied that the Code provides appropriate community safeguards for the matters covered by the Code; that the Code is endorsed by a majority of commercial television operators; and that the public was given the opportunity to comment on the Code, as required by subsection 123(4) of Act.  
Recently, FreeTV concluded consultations on amendments to the Code to deal with the advertising of live odds during sports broadcasts. The announcement of the Prime Minister, however, refers to ‘gambling’ and not merely ‘live-odds’, indicating that the Government does not consider that FreeTV’s proposed Code amendments go far enough.
ACMA’s statutory functions include assisting ‘broadcasting service providers…to develop codes of practice that, as far as possible, are in accordance with community standards’ and ‘to monitor compliance with those codes of practice’; ‘to develop program standards’ and ‘to monitor compliance with those standards’ under its embodying legislation.
The Minister may give written directions of a ‘general nature’ to the ACMA in relation to the performance of these functions and the exercise of its powers, which must be published in the Government Gazette.
Program Standards
Section 125 of the Act gives ACMA the power to determine ‘program standards’ if a Code of Practice is not in place or there is convincing evidence that it is failing to safeguard community standards, and if ACMA is satisfied that it should determine a standard in the matter. ACMA must seek public comment before creating a standard, and publish it in the Government Gazette. 
Under section 128 of the Act, Parliament may amend a Code of Practice and Standards.
Breach of Code of Practice
A person may make a complaint that a Code of Practice has been breached. Then ACMA must investigate the complaint when it is not frivolous or vexatious. ACMA may make a finding that the Code of Practice has been breached.
Compliance with a Code of Practice is not a condition of a licence.  However, under section 44 of the Act, ACMA may impose a condition on a license that the broadcaster is to comply with a Code of Practice.
Breach of Program Standards
Compliance with a Program Standard is a condition of commercial television broadcasting licences under Schedule 2, clause 7 of the Act. 
The Government will seek to legislate if the industry does not elect to develop an adequate Code of Practice. 

Tags: gambling, sport


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