Shock jock Jones ordered to undertake 'accuracy' training
AUSTRALIA'S media regulator has ordered controversial broadcaster Alan Jones to undergo "factual accuracy" training after he made misleading claims about climate change on air last year.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has also ordered Mr Jones to employ a fact checker after it found he breached the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.
These and a raft of measures arising from the ACMA review were agreed to by Sydney radio station 2GB to help it "verify facts and present significant viewpoints".
Some of the measures will apply to Mr Jones only, while others will apply to all of 2GB's news and current affairs programs.
"Training will be conducted (including with Alan Jones) focusing on the ACMA's findings concerning factual accuracy and significant viewpoints," ACMA said in a statement.
The training has to be completed by the end of next month.
ACMA's ruling comes as the controversy over Mr Jones's "dying of shame" comment, made about Prime Minister Julia Gillard, continues to harm station's advertising revenue.
Three complaints were made to ACMA in relation to a broadcast on March 15 last year in which Mr Jones said "nature produces nearly all the carbon dioxide in the air".
"The percentage of man-made carbon dioxide Australian produces is 1% of .001% of carbon dioxide in the air," Mr Jones told his 2GB listeners.
"Human beings produce .001% of the carbon dioxide in the air and Australians produce 1% of that. That's 1% of .001 is .00001% of the air. 1/100000th."
In defending Mr Jones, 2GB argued Mr Jones's listeners would not have treated the comments as a statement of fact because his program is "overwhelmingly ... the personal opinion and comments of Mr Jones".
But ACMA disagreed, saying the "ordinary reasonable listener would have understood the material as a statement of fact".
"The nature of the language, tenor and tone used was unequivocal and conclusive," ACMA said in its reasons for finding Mr Jones had breached the code.
"The form of words neither indicated that it was contestable, not qualified as a statement of opinion."
ACMA's review found 2GB had "some fact-checking and verification procedures in place", but highlighted a number of shortcomings in programs hosted by Mr Jones.
"The editorial pieces, the subject of the ACMA investigations, did not involve the wider production team," ACMA said.
ACMA found subsequent efforts by Mr Jones to correct the statement were inadequate.
The regulatory body also found the station had breached the code in relation to the handling of complaints, but noted it had "improved its electronic complaints system and recently appointed a new program director to oversee its processes".
Meanwhile, ACMA found Mr Jones had not breached the code when making a series of derogatory remarks about a number of people in public office in June and July last year.
ACMA received two complaints about the comments, which included Mr Jones calling for Ms Gillard and former Greens Leader Bob Brown to be placed in a "chaff bag" and taken out to sea.
It noted while the comments were "very disrespectful", they would not have been taken literally by listeners and were unlikely to have incited violence or hatred.
Nor had the comments offended "generally accepted standards of decency", ACMA found.
"Strongly and colloquially expressed views are a common feature of the Australian political discourse generally, and the discourse of politicians themselves," ACMA found.
"The ACMA considers than on the basis of the demographic data provided by the licensee, regular listeners of The Alan Jones Breakfast Show are mature adults who would be likely to understand and be familiar with the controversial and aggressive presentation style (of Mr Jones)."
The new measures applying to programs hosted by Alan Jones:
Pre-broadcast fact-checking by the program's executive producer of any material provided by non-media sources or third parties which may require additional confirmation and attribution.
Creation and retention (for at least six weeks) of records of the verification material sourced by the executive producer for the facts contained in the editorial piece.
Identification by the executive producer of controversial issues of public importance that are not covered by other 2GB current affairs programs.
Communication of these exceptions to 2GB's program director who will then be responsible to ensure that another current affairs program presents an alternative, significant viewpoint to that presented in the program hosted by Alan Jones so that 2GB can discharge its obligations under the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.
New measures applying to all news and current affairs programs:
The program director will conduct random checks of daily broadcasts for each of the programs and will record the details of the controversial issues of public importance canvassed in the program.
The program director will also record the reasonable efforts made/opportunities that have been given by the relevant programs to present significant alternative viewpoints.
Training will be conducted (including with Alan Jones) focussing on the ACMA's findings concerning factual accuracy and significant viewpoints.