Australian media watchdog criticises Sky News

PHOTO: Australian broadcast regulator, commentators on Sky News' Outsiders program have been accused of providing inaccurate information regarding Antarctica and other climate-related issues. (Image courtesy of Bangkok Post)

Australia’s media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has criticised the climate coverage on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Australia, citing numerous inaccurate and unfair statements that led to the breach of broadcasting rules.

The ACMA stated that Sky News Australia, linked to Murdoch’s US-based Fox News, aired incorrect statements in various segments of its Sunday Outsiders programme. After reviewing 80 allegations across 10 episodes, the watchdog found instances of the code being breached in topics including Antarctic ice cores, heat pumps in the United Kingdom, Great Barrier Reef corals, and Japanese temperature data.

The show, which features three conservative commentators discussing weekly news, has been reminded of its obligation to differentiate between facts and opinions. ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin highlighted that several episodes of Outsiders failed to maintain this distinction, resulting in the unfair and inaccurate presentation of news content.

Sky News acknowledged the findings in a statement but attributed the complaints to Kevin Rudd, former Labour Prime Minister and current Australian ambassador to the United States. Rudd has been advocating for a public inquiry into Murdoch’s media ownership in Australia, comprising a series of newspapers historically aligned with conservative politicians and ideologies.

The news company emphasized that the majority of Rudd’s 80 complaints were dismissed, and defended Outsiders by stating that it provides alternative perspectives on current events as a Sunday morning commentary and discussion programme.

In light of the complaints, cable operator Foxtel, predominantly owned by Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, has been instructed to tighten controls over third-party content on its platform. The ACMA emphasized that broadcast licensees are ultimately responsible for the aired content, even if it is sourced or purchased from a different provider.

Foxtel was also found guilty of violating broadcasting standards by showing programmes from US faith-based Daystar Television, which promoted ivermectin as an alternative Covid-19 treatment. Daystar had also disseminated incorrect information, claiming that Covid vaccines lead to infertility and miscarriages, reported Bangkok Post.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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