ACMA: Inconsistencies in Exemption and Record-Keeping Rules

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) issued a report today summarizing its findings from the monitoring performed on gambling advertising restrictions during live sport on TV, radio and online, once again reminding gambling operators to comply with the rules.

Second Monitoring Period

The restrictions on gambling advertising for the time period between the hours of 5:00am and 8:30am were introduced in 2018, and in 2019, the media regulator published a research report with its findings for the first 12 months since restrictions became effective.

The report focused on the ads placements and number of ads on TV, radio and online, comparing the numbers pre-and post- the restrictions. It also looked how the new rules helped shape people’s attitudes and awareness towards gambling advertising.

Despite having no major issues to report for the first 12 months, there were some inconsistencies in providers notifying scheduled start times and with record-keeping obligations, and the media regulator decided to extend the monitoring period with another year.

During the second 12-month period of monitoring on the Online Content Service Provider Rules, the ACMA compared information on platforms related to scheduled start of play with the actual placement of the gambling ads during the live stream broadcast. Further, the ACMA contacted online providers to get insights regarding their gambling advertising practices and conducted 3 investigations.

There were no major concerns detected regarding the operation of the rules, yet there were inconsistencies uncovered in how providers interpreted the rules. These relate to two categories: exemptions and record-keeping requirements.

ACMA Findings

An identical online simulcast of a live sports event is treated as exempt from the online rules under the Broadcasting Service Act 1992, because the live event would be subjected to broadcasting codes of practice. This exemption, according to ACMA’s findings, was widely used and even combined with another, for low audience share subscription TV channels.

“As the size of online audiences for live sporting events continues to grow in Australia, it may be relevant to also consider the potential online audience share for live sporting events broadcast on TV, so that exemptions continue to apply as intended, where there are genuinely small audiences.”

Regarding the requirements for record-keeping, the media regulatory body found out that online providers, as per the requirements, keep a record of the gambling ads shown during live sporting events, yet these reports tended to differ from one provider to another.

There was a potential for breaching the record-keeping rules and the regulator, similar to its approach in March, encouraged providers to consider whether the way they create their reports was in line with the online rules, especially with regards to unique, digitally-inserted advertising.

The report puts an end to the monitoring program of the ACMA, but due to the constant change in the broadcasting environment and the streaming of live sporting events, the media regulator will continue to watch developments in the sector and their impact on gambling ads restrictions.

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