Australian Council on Children and the Media

How to complain about children and the media

You can play an active part in shaping our media services.

Don't just wish that someone would do something? Do it yourself.

These pages are designed to help you make your views known where it counts.

Firstly, here are some general hints:

Secondly, you could join in some current campaigns:

Thirdly, check the relevant Codes and Standards:

Fourthly, here's how to complain about media content that concerns you:


Who to Contact

For more information on where to complain about specific content, see under the sections on different media:

Free to Air TV

Pay TV

Complaints about content on Pay TV should be directed to the company which handles their subscription service on the telephone and/or in writing. Contact the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) if there is no response to your complaint within 60 days or an inadequate response or you are dissatisfied with the response from the station.

Cinema films and DVDs

Please visit http://www.classification.gov.au/

Video and computer games

Please visit http://www.classification.gov.au/

Internet

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the oversight of Internet content matters, and will investigate complaints referred to it in relation to specific web sites. If you encounter material on the Internet that you consider is likely to be illegal, such as child pornography, or sexually violent material, there is a complaints procedure on the web site. ACMA will investigate, and if it is found that the material is illegal, they can issue a "take down" notice to the relevant Internet Service Provider.

The Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner  website also has a Complaints section for reporting offensive or illegal content and cyberbullying.

Advertising (Including billboards)

The Advertising Standards Bureau provides a free public complaint service about advertising in public and in the mainstream media. People may find such advertising offensive on the basis of:

  • discrimination (race, nationality, sex, age, sexual preference, religion, disability, political belief)
  • violence
  • portrayal of sex, sexuality or nudity;
  • health and safety
  • alarm or distress to children.

For more details go to the Advertising Standards Bureau website

Other Media

Print media

Comments or complaints about the content of newspapers or similar publications should be directed to the editor of the publication concerned. If the matter concerns the ethics of the journalists involved, you can also contact the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) (State Branch). Refer to the Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Some publications (such as some sex magazines) are subject to the requirements of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 and are required to be classified so that access by minors is minimised. Complaints about inappropriate covers, content, or display in public places, should be directed to the Attorney General in your State or Territory.

Music lyrics

These are covered by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA)’s Code of Practice. Complaints should be directed to ARIA.

Telecommunications - premium services

Complaints regarding a possible breach of the Code of Practice in relation to premium-rate phone services with the prefix 190 are to be made to the Telephone Information Services Standards Council (TISSC).

A complaint may be made by any person or organisation, including a carriage service provider, a service provider, an information provider, TISSC or any member of the public. A complaint may be made in any form, including by writing or telephone. Anonymity will be preserved if requested by the complainant. For further information please visit the Telephone Information Services Standards Council (TISSC) complaints page.

 


Guidelines for making a complaint

Remember the five Ps when you contact a media service.

Prompt

Have your say very soon after the event. There are time limits for the lodgement of comments with some services. Don’t put it off - you may end up not doing it at all.

Precise

Name the time, date, place, media outlet and programme as precisely as you can. Statements such as "there’s too much violence" on TV are not enough.

Persuasive

Back up your views with reference to relevant research, or to relevant media standards, regulation or codes (which may appear to have been breached). There’s nothing as persuasive as evidence that an existing requirement has been breached.

Polite

Present your case constructively and firmly.

Persistent

The answer you receive may take a long time, and it may not satisfy you. Write again and restate your case if you believe the response is insufficient.


Influencing the big picture is important

While it is urgent to comment on individual happenings in the media, it is also important to tackle issues at their heart - to examine philosophies underlying certain practices and problems.

Write to the Federal Minister for Justice

Policy development for the classification of films, videos, DVDs and games is the responsibility of the federal Minister for Justice

Write to politicians

These broad issues can and should be brought to the attention of relevant politicians. Remember, television, films and videos, computer games, and the Internet are essentially Federal issues.

Contribute to Inquiries

Some of the best opportunities arise when a regulatory agency, or media industry body, holds an Inquiry into specific issues, such as Violence on Television, or a review of the Children’s Television Standards. Then there is usually wide ranging consultation and opportunity for well-researched submissions to canvass the basis of particular media regulatory approaches. Keep your eyes on the newspaper advertisements for such occasions. Or link up with a well-informed community group which will let you know about them.