The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that Foxtel, the broadcasting and streaming service owned by the Murdochs, breached Australian betting advertising rules by airing an ad that promotes a sports wagering service.
The segment that got Foxtel in hot water was aired at 4.30 pm on Easter Monday during the live broadcast of the AFL match between Geelong and Hawthorn.
Result of Human Error
According to the ACMA, the problematic ad segment breached the rules stipulated in the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice. These rules prohibit broadcasters from airing sports betting and gambling advertisements five minutes before and after a game when it is played in the period between 5 am and 8.30 pm.
What may make the eventual punishment lighter is the fact that Foxtel self-reported its breach to the ACMA. According to the report the ACMA released, a viewer complained to Foxtel about the betting segment aired during the prohibited period, and Foxtel informed the authority of its mistake. The ACMA investigation later discovered that the airing of the ad was the result of a human error.
To prevent this from happening again, Foxtel gave its employees a refresher training concerning the pay-TV and streaming service’s obligations when it comes to advertising sports betting and gambling content.
ACMA was also pleased to see that the Murdochs-owned broadcaster was implementing new controls to prevent betting ads from being aired during prohibited periods ever again.
Calls for More Betting Ad Limitations
Nevertheless, ACMA was still disappointed by Foxtel’s oversight. The authority felt that, because Foxtel was aware of the rules, it was intolerable that the promotion was allowed to air.
Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA’s chair, said that the rules they were referring to were put in place to reduce unwanted exposure to betting ads, particularly of children.
Betting ads in Australia are banned from broadcasts during the daytime and have been so ever since 2018 when the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a ban on betting advertisements between 5 am and 8.30 pm – a law that became known as the siren-to-siren ban.
However, sports channels with ‘low audiences’ could continue to air betting ads and were exempt from the new rule.
The results from ACMA’s investigation regarding Foxtel’s breach were published only four days after Tabcorp chief, David Attenborough asked for further limitations on betting and gambling advertisements during live sports events in Australia.