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Aussies concerned about commercial influence in news

More than eight in 10 Australian adults are concerned about large advertisers influencing the news, according to new research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The research was released in conjunction with an ACMA discussion paper, 'Impartiality and commercial influence in broadcast news'.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the organisation is looking at how the commercial broadcast news industry had changed due to digital disruption and whether current regulatory arrangements are fit for purpose.

“There is ongoing debate about the credibility of news delivered online. But TV and radio remain an important source of news for the majority of Australians. If audiences have concerns about the credibility of news on TV and radio, then these need to be addressed by industry,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

The ACMA research highlights a range of concerns from Australians about the impartiality of, and commercial influence in, news:

  • 88 per cent are concerned news is made more dramatic or sensational to attract more readers or viewers.
  • 85 per cent are concerned news is reported from a particular point of view rather than being balanced or impartial. 
  • 79 per cent were concerned that there was difficulty in telling when a journalist is expressing an opinion rather than reporting the facts.
  • 77 per cent are concerned about commercial businesses paying to have their products or services featured in the news, but not disclosing the payment.
  • 97 per cent reported noticing commercial influence in at least one news source.
  • 58 per cent consider that there is now more commercial influence in Australian news today, compared with three years ago.

 

“As Australia’s broadcasting regulator, we want to make sure that current regulatory arrangements still do the job they were designed to do in the contemporary broadcasting news environment,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“For example, we are interested in whether the move from half-hour news bulletins towards hour-long hybrid news and current affairs programs has impacted the impartiality of news reporting.

“It’s also an opportunity to look at principles relating to impartiality and commercial influence that might usefully apply to the delivery of news on online platforms.”

Are you concerned about commercial interests influencing the news?

13 comments

All advertizing should be declated at the beginning of the story so that we can have the choice of muting it or changing channels.  If a station is receiving cash or other incentives to run a story it should be classed as advertising.  This should include propaganda from the government in power.

You can do nothing about bias but you can fact check stories and apply heavy fines for deliberatley just making up lies in order to influence the population.

As it is, I know few people who take "News" stories at face value.  News as it is now is becoming irrelevant,  the media providers are destroying their own industry.

If you want to put yourself forward as a news provider, you need to be able to distinguish  between news, gossip and advertising.

The news on commercial media is more about "infotainment" with a bias toward the media owners own requirements, be they political or commercial.  

The only unbiased, as has been proved by numerous investigations and reviews by the LNP government, is the ABC. Commercial media has never been checked out for bias and it is odds on it would fail the test.

The old saying "he who pays the piper calls the tune" still applies and advertisers can, and I feel sure, do apply pressure to get perferential treatment from those to whom they pay advertising fees.

The news on commercial media is more about "infotainment" with a bias toward the media owners own requirements, be they political or commercial.  

The only unbiased, as has been proved by numerous investigations and reviews by the LNP government, is the ABC. Commercial media has never been checked out for bias and it is odds on it would fail the test.

The old saying "he who pays the piper calls the tune" still applies and advertisers can, and I feel sure, do apply pressure to get perferential treatment from those to whom they pay advertising fees.

Wasn't this topic, in a similar form, discussed a couple of days back Ben? Leonie wanted to discuss biased reporting which can take various forms; bias by reporters, bias by editors, bias by media owners and bias by commercial interests. I am re-posting my comment made then as it is relevant to today's question, I hope this is acceptable.

"

Bias is everywhere, Leonie, even in this forum. This headline "Morrison gives $110.000 Government grant to his Pentecostal church" is not only very misleading but doesn't have too much truth attached to it.

When I was a younger person, newspapers had reporters and editors and each knew their role. Reporters wrote all the information that was available on a story and presented as many sides as they could to allow the readers to have all of the information. Editors were commentators and an editorial was well known by all readers to be an editor's opinion which, although truthful, may not have all of the facts included.

Reporters in days gone by started life as a cadet reporter with all of the hack work that reporters didn't want to do. Now we have reporters who have university degrees and an urgent need to be commentators with their bias leading the slant on a story. Reading the above articles from ex-reporters suggests that editorial influence is not a strong factor with comments like "editors did not give explicit instructions" or "We kind of know what the editorial line is at the paper".

This comment by Ms Townsend is of particular interest: "I have been severely impacted by the coverage of News Corp publications in relation to the fires, in particular the misinformation campaign that has tried to divert attention away from the real issue which is climate change to rather focus on arson (including misrepresenting facts),"  Right there is a prime example of bias, Australia's Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has publicly stated that the drought is not caused by climate change and the IPCC has declared that Australia's bushfires are not because of climate change. Ms Townsend chooses to ignore scientific evidence to promote her own thoughts.

What all of this boils down to really is that each of us has their own personal bias and we tend to gravitate to those who share that bias. Those of the left will read and watch the media that gives them a reinforcement of their views as will those of the right. Naming names in this forum does very little except to show which side of the fence one sits."

Hi Horace Cope, you stated:

'Bias is everywhere, Leonie, even in this forum. This headline "Morrison gives $110.000 Government grant to his Pentecostal church" is not only very misleading but doesn't have too much truth attached to it.'

 

Are you saying this is NOT true?

The government allocated $55M for organisations to apply for if they wished to install/increase security on their premises. The applications, as with all government grants, were handled by bureaucrats and Morrison's church applied for and was granted $110,000. That doesn't translate to "Morrison gives $110.000 Government grant to his Pentecostal church" unless the truth is stretched to its absolute breaking point. Those biased against Morrison will agree with the headline, those biased against Labor will disagree.

I used to be biased before I decided to support only one side.

I do watch the ABC news but they do focus on ovewrseas news. It is nice to know what is happening locally in our own 'shithole down under', so I also watch the commercial TV news.

I do watch the ABC news but they do focus on ovewrseas news. It is nice to know what is happening locally in our own 'shithole down under', so I also watch the commercial TV news.

This is precisely why we need to keep the ABC out of private hands and advertisement-free.

I agree Intelligo.

Image may contain: 2 people, meme, possible text that says 'THE NEWS USED TO TELL YOU THAT SOMETHING HAPPENED LOEANGELE THEN YOU HAD TO DECIDE WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IT THOUCHTPRO NOW THE NEWS TELLS YOU HOW TO THINK ABOUT SOMETHING LOSANGELES AND YOU HAVE TO DECIDE IF IT EVEN HAPPENED'

The biggest danger these days is opinion masquerading as fact.

People are so enamoured with being a legend in their own lunchtime, that dissenters will not be tolerated, resulting in the viscious takedown of anyone with a different opinion and facts no longer relevent.

The first three points are very worthy of consideration.  Hyperbole is alive and well in the headlines.

As mature and experienced adults most of us can determine whenever a news story is turning into an "advertorial" and we can moderate our thoughts on the story.

We are aware that apart from the ABC, all networks are commercial operations and dependant on ongoing advertising accounts.

Tanker, you must be gullible if your believe that the ABC is free of bias.  It is more the methods used to claim that they have no bias that can be concerning.  They are a network that promises to tell us why a story is important and why it is important to us.

Commercial pressure has always been present in reporting.  For example if a brand of motor car was over represented in single vehicle fatal crashes and that brand was a significant advertiser with a network, there would be a reluctance to name that brand in news items.  The ABC avoids the issue all together by refusing to name names unless it is unavoidable.

It is the Murdoch empire.

13 comments