ACMA: Foxtel Guilty of Breaching Gambling Advertising Rules

Foxtel Cable Television was found guilty of breaching gambling advertising rules, an investigation of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has concluded.

Maintaining Advertising Rules

Australian media watchdog ACMA ruled against a complaint filed by the media operator regarding an incident in April 2021, and, despite the fact that Foxtel self-reported the breach, the company was found in violation of the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice.

According to the code, gambling advertising is prohibited from airing during or within five minutes of live sports broadcasts in the time interval between 5 AM and 8.30 PM, but on April 5, around 4.33 PM, Foxtel allowed a betting commercial to be shown during a half-time discussion of a fixture from the Australian Football League (AFL), aired live under the AFL Easter Monday Footy. The match was Geelong vs Hawthorn and, following a complaint from a viewer, Foxtel notified the regulator about the breach itself, explaining it with a human error.

ACMA commenced an investigation under the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) 1992 in May, seeking to determine whether the incident allowed by the licensee breached the Subscription Broadcast Television Codes of Practice. After considering that the game was a live sporting event, the aired advertisement falls within the definition of betting advertising and the timing was within the prohibition period ACMA concluded it was in breach of the advertising code.

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

Nerida O’Loughlin, Chair, ACMA

To ensure the media watchdog that a similar breach will not occur in the future, Foxtel provided training to its staff to refresh them about their obligations under the advertising code and, specifically, gambling advertising. The media operator also introduced new controls to prevent gambling advertisements from being improperly broadcasted during live sporting events.

Ousting Illegal Gambling

Besides its efforts to make sure incumbents strictly follow the rules, ACMA continues to show its resolve to clear the market from illegal gambling operators and their affiliate partners.

Earlier this month and following a series of public complaints, ACMA issued blocking orders to five unregistered online gambling websites which targeted Australian residents. The online casino websites were shut down after ACMA found them in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. The media watchdog also used the occasion to notify via pop-up messages players who try to access the blocked websites that they are illegal.

In August, ACMA took enforcement action against affiliates that promote products and services of illegal online gambling websites by requesting ISP providers to block access to their websites.

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