Dear Australian Communications and Media Authority,
In line with the recent suspension of SkyNews uploading YouTube content due to Covid-19 disinformation, I request that following:
* The number of complaints submitted to the ACMA regarding Sky News (cable TV, youtube, Facebook, Website) both upheld and dismissed.
Please provide the number for the dates 01/01/2020 to 1/08/2021
* any guidelines which would ezplain YouTube taking action but preventing ACMA doing the same.
ACMA file reference: ACMA2021/420
Dear Mr Underling
Your request for information
Thank you for your correspondence of 2 August 2021.
I understand that you are seeking information about ‘Sky News’ and the
number of complaints made to the Australian Communications and Media
Authority (the ACMA) about its content. You have asked for:
· ‘The number of complaints submitted to the ACMA regarding Sky
News (cable TV, YouTube, Facebook, Website) both upheld and dismissed’,
for the dates 1/01/2020 to 1/08/2021.
· ‘Any guidelines which would explain YouTube taking action but
preventing ACMA doing the same’.
Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act), Freedom of
Information (FOI) applications must be for documents, not information
(section 11 of the FOI Act). Consequently, this is not a valid request for
access under section 15 of the FOI Act.
Although we are not required to process this request in accordance with
the FOI Act, we are able to provide you with the information you have
requested, outside of the FOI process, below.
We note upfront that digital platforms such as YouTube are not currently
subject to the same co-regulatory arrangements as Australia’s traditional
The only complaints about online material that the ACMA can action further
are for gambling ads in live streamed sport, which fall under the Online
Content Service Provider Rules of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the
The number of complaints submitted to the ACMA regarding Sky News (cable
TV, YouTube, Facebook, Sky News website) both upheld and dismissed for the
dates 1/01/2020 to 1/08/2021
The ACMA has received 77 complaints about Sky News on all services
(including subscription TV, free-to-air TV and online) between 1/01/20 and
Of the 77 complaints:
· 47 had not complained to the broadcaster in the first instance
and were referred to the broadcaster. They were advised that in relation
to material broadcast on television, as per the co-regulatory process,
they could come back to the ACMA if they were not satisfied with the
response they received.
· 8 did not provide contact details and had insufficient
information to be actioned further.
· 16 were provided information (for example, explaining that the
ACMA’s jurisdiction does not cover online content).
· 6 broadcasting complaints were assessed by the ACMA.
o 1 assessment led to the ACMA commencing an investigation (BI 568)
resulting in a no breach finding.
o 1 assessment of an anonymous complaint indicated the matter was
unlikely to reach the high bar required by the relevant Code and did
not lead to further action.
o 4 assessments are in progress.
· In the same period of time, the ACMA’s Customer Service Centre
(CSC) had approximately 16 people contact them about Sky News content and
these people were provided with information. The CSC responds to general
enquiries from members of the public about all aspects of the ACMA’s work.
Any guidelines which would explain YouTube taking action but preventing
ACMA doing the same
Australia’s legislated co-regulatory scheme for commercial broadcasting on
television is set out in the BSA. Under the scheme broadcasters have the
initial opportunity to respond to audience complaints and take action when
they identify they have breached their code of practice.
The co-regulatory scheme is designed to place responsibilities directly on
media to balance protection from harmful content with Australians’ implied
right to freedom of speech in news and current affairs.
Complainants are advised to contact the ACMA if they are not satisfied
with the response from the broadcaster or if they do not receive a
response within 60 days. The ACMA has a legislative discretion to
investigate complaints about broadcasts where ‘it is desirable to do so’.
The ACMA’s primary consideration is whether it is in the public interest
to commence an investigation.
As noted above, except in the case of complaints about gambling
advertising during live streamed sport, the ACMA does not have
jurisdiction to take and assess complaints about content on digital
platforms. In this case we understand that YouTube has made its decision
to suspend Sky News according to its own policies for its platform.
I hope this information was of assistance.
Content Investigations Section
Australian Communications and Media Authority
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The ACMA acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout
Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community.
We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.