ACMA rules against Foxtel for betting advertising breach

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled against Foxtel regarding a complaint made about a betting advertisement, as public debate surrounding gambling marketing in the country continues. 

Foxtel notified the ACMA itself, notifying the regulator that at around 4.33pm ARST a betting commercial was shown during a half-time discussion of the Australian Football League (AFL) Easter Monday Footy: Geelong vs Hawthorn AFL fixture, and a complaint had been received and investigated.

Under Australian regulations, broadcasters are prohibited from airing gambling advertising during or within five minutes of live sports broadcasts between 5am and 8.30pm.

A subsequent ACMA investigation found that the broadcast was in breach of the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice, although the authority has acknowledged that Foxtel self-reported the incident, which occurred as a result of human error.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found the broadcast breached the rules in the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice.

“These rules are in place to reduce exposure to betting promotions. In particular, parents worry about their children seeing gambling ads, especially those associated with shared family activities like sport,” said Nerida O’Loughlin, Chair of the ACMA.

“Foxtel is well aware of the rules and it is disappointing that this betting promotion was allowed to go to air.”

In response to the breach, Foxtel has provided refresher training to its staff relating to Australian betting advertising requirements, whilst also introducing new controls to ensure that such commercials are not broadcast during live sports events in the future.

The ACMA decision comes as public debate concerning stricter regulation of betting and gaming advertising in Australia continues, with gambling commercials reportedly some of the most complained about marketing in the country.

Responsible Wagering Australia, an online gambling trade association, has emphasised the importance of an ‘evidence-based nationally consistent framework’, whilst maintaining that the sector is committed to socially responsible marketing.

However, Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough has called for reform of the Australian advertising landscape, with a focus on limiting betting marketing during live sports events, with the exception of racing channels.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee, he remarked: “One is that they should look at restricting wagering advertising, particularly around live sporting events, between the hours of 6.30am and 8.30pm, where exposure to children is heightened. We’ve seen this done in the UK. It’s a classic way of trying to reduce the impact on the young.”

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