AMCA RELEASE: The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Prime Radio (Cairns-AM) Pty Ltd (Prime), the licensee of commercial radio station 4EL Cairns (Radio 4CA), breached the commercial radio advertising standard during the John Mackenzie Show by failing to present advertising material in a manner that was clearly distinguishable from other program material.
The Broadcasting Services (Commercial Radio Advertising) Standard 2000 (advertising standard) prohibits commercial radio stations from presenting an advertisement in a manner which would prevent the reasonable listener from being able to distinguish it from other program content. The advertising standard is a licence condition for all commercial radio licensees.
The ACMA’s investigation considered whether the paid appearances of the Mayor of Cairns Regional Council, Ms Val Shier, on the Ask the Mayor segment of the John Mackenzie Show, constituted an advertisement. The ACMA found that a substantial purpose of the paid appearances of the Mayor was to promote the Cairns Regional Council’s products and services. As payment had been provided by the Council for the appearance, it ‘crossed the line’ from the promotion of its community services to rate payers, to paid advertising.
In response to the breach finding, the licensee has implemented a policy to broadcast explicit statements, such as ’this has been a paid presentation on behalf of…’ to acknowledge all paid appearances.
As the licensee is undertaking remedial measures, the ACMA will not take any further action in relation to this investigation. A copy of the Investigation Report 2302 is available on the ACMA website.
The ACMA is considering the paid on-air radio appearances as part of its current review of the commercial radio standards. The Issues Paper relating to the review was released on 23 February 2010.