The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Network Ten breached accuracy and privacy provisions under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010 during a segment aired on Ten Eyewitness News on April 15.

The ACMA investigated a complaint about a news report concerning the bashing of an elderly woman, which focused on a police request to men living in the neighbouring area to voluntarily provide DNA samples.

The report included visual images of the complainant accompanied by commentary that he had chosen not to provide a DNA sample. It could have been inferred that he was a suspect in the assault.

Channel Ten acknowledged that the report incorrectly represented that the complainant had declined to provide a DNA sample to police. Accordingly, factual material was not broadcast accurately as required by clause 4.3.1 of the Code.

The ACMA also found that Channel Ten breached the privacy obligations at clause 4.3.5 of the Code.

While the complainant was not named, he was identifiable from the broadcast. In the context of a report on the investigation into a violent bashing, information that he had not given a DNA sample was sensitive personal information. It was not available in the public domain and consent wasn’t given for it to be broadcast. The visual identification of the complainant could have been avoided without the segment losing any coherence or meaning. There was no public interest reason which justified the broadcast of personal information that was both sensitive and inaccurate.

Channel Ten will publish an apology and correction on its program website, TENplay and include a link to the report from the ACMA’s website. It will also use the ACMA’s findings in training sessions and redistribute the ACMA’s Privacy guidelines for broadcasters to news staff.

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