The Australian Communications and Media Authority has ruled that Seven Network and Nine Network have each breached regulations by airing gambling advertisements during the Tokyo Olympics.
The ACMA investigation found that throughout July and August 2021, Seven aired 49 betting promotions during its Olympic coverage when it aired broadcasts in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. It also made gambling advertisements on its livestream of the Olympics.
Another investigation found that Nine broadcast a gambling advertisement at 8:21pm during the half-time break of the NRL grand final on 3 October 2021.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has recently announced a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, including reviewing the effectiveness of current gambling advertising restrictions on limiting children’s exposure to gambling products and services. The ACMA intends to make a submission to the inquiry given its regulatory responsibilities and experience.
Citing legislation, the Australian watchdog said broadcasters are restricted from showing gambling advertising during their coverage of live sporting events shown between 5am and 8:30pm. After, gambling ads can be shown but are restricted to defined breaks.
During long-form events such as the Olympics, broadcasters are prohibited from showing gambling advertising from five minutes before the start of the first event of the day until 8:30pm, and not more than once every two hours after that time.
The rules also apply to livestreams.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the public is increasingly concerned about the potential harmful nature of gambling advertising.
“These rules exist to address community concerns about excessive exposure to betting promotions. Both Seven and Nine are well aware that they have to keep these ads to certain times,” O’Loughlin said.
“It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”
In response to the findings, Seven and Nine have entered court-enforceable undertakings with the ACMA, requiring both to implement systems to avoid breaking the rules and refresh training for staff responsible for the scheduling and broadcast of gambling advertisements during sports programming.
The ACMA advised that both must also track complaints and responses about gambling advertisements.
Seven has been issued with a formal warning for its live stream breaches.
Both networks must report back to the ACMA on the training and the effectiveness of their new systems and practices, providing details of how they have resolved any issues that arose during that time.
This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 24 October 2022.
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