Australia is changing its broadcasting laws following an incident on TV show Big Brother in which two men sexually assaulted a female housemate.
Communications minister Helen Coonan has announced the Australian government’s decision to remove a loophole that allows TV stations to be exempt from traditional broadcasting regulations if they screen material online.
Michael ‘Ashley’ Cox and Michael ‘John’ Bric were removed from the house on Saturday after they were caught on camera “turkey slapping” Camilla Halliwell–Bric held her down in bed while Cox slapped her around the face with his genitals.
In the resulting furor, which saw Australian Prime Minister John Howard call for the show to be axed, no legal action could be taken against Network Ten because the offending material was shown online, and not on television.
The only viewers who saw the footage were adult subscribers who had paid to view a feed of what was happening in the Big Brother house.
Coonan says, “Given the community outrage about this matter, it would appear the codes applying to television program classifications may also be out of step with community standards.
“In addition to legislative changes, I will direct the Australian Communications And Media Authority (ACMA) to conduct a detailed review of whether the free-to-air television code of practice is operating to provide appropriate community safeguards in relation to reality TV programming.”
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