Australia/Oceania, Asia: Cook Islands

Media Commission Television Code of Media Practice

Current Status: active

(A draft code, approved by the Media Commission on an interim basis and is issued under section 23 of the Media Act 2004.)

"Television broadcasting" means any transmission by radio waves of programmes containing visual images, or a combination of sound and visual images, whether or not encrypted, for reception by the general public or by subscribers to a pay television service by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus.

The media standards contained in section 22 of the Media Act 2004 apply to television broadcasting. When applying the specific media standards to a television broadcast, the Media Standards Council and the Media Commission, as the case shall be, shall interpret each statutory standard, repeated below as(a) to (g), with regard to the following guidelines 

(a) The observance of good taste and decency, taking into account community standards and the context of the programme, article or advertisement.

Guidelines

(i) Broadcasters will take into consideration current norms of decency and good taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs and the wider context of the broadcast e.g.time of day, target audience. The examples are not exhaustive.

(ii) Broadcasters shall ensure that any violence contained in the programme is not gratuitous and is justified by the context.

 (iii) The time of transmission is an important consi deration in the scheduling of programmes which contain violent themes. If a programme is likely to disturb, an appropriate warning shall be broadcast. Warnings shall be specific in nature,while avoiding detail which may itself distress or offend viewers.

(b) The maintenance of law and order.

Guidelines

(i) Broadcasters must respect the principles or law which sustain our society.

(ii) The realistic portrayal of anti-social behaviour, including violent and serious crime and the abuse of liquor and drugs, shall not be shown in a way that glamorises these activities.

(iii) Broadcasters shall en sure that the incidental promotion of liquor is minimised.

(iv) Programmes should not glamorise suicide and shall not show or explain in detail how suicides are effected.

(c) The privacy of the individual

Guidelines

Broadcasters shall comply with the following privacy principles 

(i) The protection of privacy includes protection against the public disclosure of private facts where the disclosure is highly offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.

(ii) The protection of privacy also protects against the public disclosure of some kinds of public facts. The "public" facts contemplated  concern events (such as criminal behaviour) which have, in effect, become private again, for example through the passage of time. Nevertheless, the public disclosure of public facts will have to be highly offensive to a reasonable person.

 (iii) There is a separate ground for a complaint, in addition to a complaint for the public disclosure of private and public facts, in factual situations involving the intentional interference (in the nature of prying) with an individual's interest in solitude or seclusion. The intrusion must be offensive to the ordinary person but an individual's interest in solitude or seclusion does not provide the basis for a privacy action for an individual to complain about being observed or followed or photographed in a public place. The public place defence shall not apply in the rare situations where the facts disclosed, in the opinion of a reasonable person, are not appropriate for public dissemination.

(iv) The protection of privacy also protects against the disclosure of private facts to abuse, denigrate or ridicule personally an identifiable person. This principle is of particular relevance should a broadcaster use the airwaves to deal with a private dispute. However, the existence of a prior relationship between the broadcaster and the named individual is not an essential criterion.

(v) The protection of privacy includes the protection against the disclosure by the broadcaster, without consent, of the name and/or address and/or telephone number of an identifiable person. This principle does not apply to details which are public information or to news and current affairs reporting, and is subject to the "public interest" defence in principle (vi).

(vi) Discussing the matter in the "public interest" defined as of legitimate concern or interest to the public, is a defence to an individual's claim for privacy.

(vii) An individual who consents to the invasion of his or her privacy,cannot later succeed in a claim for a breach of privacy. Children's vulnerability must be a prime concern to broadcasters. When consent is given by the child, or by a parent or someone in loco parent is, broadcasters shall satisfy themselves that the broadcast is in the best interest of the child.

(d) The principle of balance that when controversial issues of public importance are addressed in news and current affairs, reasonable efforts are made,or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme, or in other programmes within the period of current interest, subject to the right of all media to put forward editorial opinion provided the editorial nature of the comment is clearly apparent to the viewer.

Guidelines

(i) Programmes which approach a topic from a particular personal perspective are acceptable provided the perspective taken is explicit throughout the programme.

(ii) No set formula can be advanced for the allocation of time to interested parties on controversial public issues. Broadcaster shall aim to present all significant sides in as fair a way as possible, it being acknowledged that this can be done only by judging each case on its merits.

(e) The requirement that news and current affairs are truthful and accurate on points of fact.

Guidelines

(i) Significant errors of fact shall be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

 (ii) Factual reports on the one hand, and opinion, analysis and comment on the other, shall be clearly distinguishable.

(iii) Advertisement and infomercials shall be clearly distinguishable from the programme material.

(iv) Broadcasters shall refrain from broadcasting material which is misleading or unnecessarily alarms viewers.

(f) The requirement to deal justly and fairly with any person referred to in an article or programme, or is taking part in a programme.

Guidelines

(i) Broadcasters will not portray people in a manner which encourages denigration of or discrimination against any section of the community on account of gender, race, age, disability, occupational status, sexual orientation; or as the consequence of legitimate expression of religious,cultural or political beliefs. This requirement does not extend to prevent the broadcast of material which is:

i) factual; or

ii) a genuine expression of serious comment, analysis or opinion, or

iii) by way of legitimate humour or satire.

(ii) Care must be taken in the editing of programme material to ensure that the extracts used are a true reflection and not a distortion of the original event or the overall views expressed.

(iii) Programmes shall not be presented in such a way as to cause panic, or unwarranted alarm or undue distress.

(iv) Contributors to and participants in any programme shall be dealt with fairly and shall, except as required in the public interest, be informed of the reason for their proposed contribution and participation and the role that is expected of them.

(v) Broadcasters and programme makers shall not obtain information through misrepresentation or deception, except as is required in the public interest when the material cannot be obtained by other means.

(vi) Broadcasters shall recognise the rights of individuals, and particularly children and young people, not to be exploited, humiliated, or unnecessarily identified.

(vii) Broadcasters should avoid causing unwarranted distress to surviving family members by showing library or archivaI footage

of bodies or human remains. This guideline is not intended to prevent the use of material which adds significantly to the understanding of an issue of public interest.

g. The requirement to consider the interests of child listeners or readers.

Guidelines

(i) Broadcasters shall be mindful of the effect any programme may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times.

(ii) Broadcasters shall ensure that the appropriate class i fication codes are observed.

(iii) Scenes and themes dealing with disturbing social and domestic friction or sequences in which people - especially children – or animals may be humiliated or badly treated, shall be handled with care and sensibility.

(iv) Children's cartoons should avoid gratuitous violence, especially involving humans or human-like creatures unless, even to the youngest of viewers, the themes are clearly fanciful or farcical.

Definitions

(i) A child means a boy or girl under the age of 15 years.

(ii) All programmes shall be classified G - General, PG - ParentalGuidance Recommended, or M - Mature. G programmes, although not necessarily aimed at children, exclude material which is likely to be unsuitable for children, and may be broadcast at any time. PG programmes are not necessarily unsuitable for children when subject to the guidance of an adult, and may be broadcast after 7.00 pm until 6.00 am and between 8.00 am and 2.00 pm during weekdays, but not during school holidays. M programmes are programmescontaining adult themes and directed at mature audiences. M programmes may be broadcast after 8.30 pm until 5.30 pm.