Feds Take Slap In Face Over Big Brother Jurisdiction

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Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, and the ACMA media watchdog have taken a slap in the face after discovering the broadcast of the alleged sexual harassment of Big Brother housemate, Camilla Halliwell, may fall outside the ACMA’s jurisdiction.

Senator Coonan, along with Kim Beazley and John Howard, had the Big Brother TV show in her sights after the footage was broadcast on 1 July 2006. The Minister asked the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) to investigate any possible breaches of the television code of conduct. However, because the footage was streamed over the Internet, not broadcast on free-to-air television, it may fall outside the watchdog’s jurisdiction, which includes stored internet content .

Senator Coonan appears still to have her hooks in the show, however, yesterday releasing a statement saying the ACMA “Is continuing its assessment of the alleged incident,” and may yet come back to bite the show. “The ACMA will assess whether the streaming of this footage over the Internet breached the requirements of the Online Content Scheme, which restricts the type of material that can be hosted on Australian Internet services,” she said.

“The Online Content Scheme, introduced in 2000, bans offensive material from being hosted on Australian web servers and requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to limit access to certain material to adults. It was drawn to my attention today that some media outlets have provided access to footage of the alleged incident on their websites.” Amongst those to have done so on 3 July 2006 was smh.com.au, which linked through to the popular video submission Website, youtube.com

Senator Coonan has said she has “Not yet received a written response from ACMA, however I expect that a report will be provided in the next 24 hours.

“The incident which allegedly occurred on the set of the Big Brother program was both disturbing and offensive, and many in the community are rightly concerned by the prospect of footage of this incident being broadcast.

“I have sought and obtained an undertaking from Channel 10 that they will not broadcast or promote this incident.”

Senator Coonan’s latest statement arrives amid revelations made in The Daily Telegraph that a former Big Brother housemate, Rita Lazzarotto, received attentions from a male housemate during the show’s 2005 season that are similar to those involving Camilla Halliwell.

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