Australian networks penalised after breaking gambling advertising rules

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has penalised the Seven and Nine Network’s after rules around television gambling advertising were violated.

The former was discovered to have aired 49 betting promotions during its Olympic coverage in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. It was also found to have made gambling ads available on a live stream.

Furthermore, a separate investigation found that Nine broadcast a gambling advertisement during the half-time break of the NRL grand final on October 3, 2021.

Broadcasters are restricted from showing gambling advertising during their coverage of live sporting events shown between 5am and 8:30pm. After this time gambling ads can be shown but are restricted to defined breaks. 

For long-form events, such as the Olympics, broadcasters must not show such ads from five minutes before the start of the first event of the day until 8:30pm, and not more than once every two hours after that time. These rules also apply to live streams.

Subsequently, the two networks have entered into court-enforceable undertakings with the ACMA, which requires each to implement systems to avoid breaking the rules again and refresh training for staff responsible for the scheduling and broadcast of ads during sports programming. They must also track complaints and responses.

Both networks must report back to the authority on the training and the effectiveness of their new systems and practices, providing details of how they have resolved any issues that arose during that time. Additionally, Seven has been issued with a formal warning.

“These rules exist to address community concerns about excessive exposure to betting promotions. Both Seven and Nine are well aware that they have to keep these ads to certain times,” said Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA Chair.

“Many families enjoy watching sport as a shared activity and parents worry that children exposed to these ads may normalise betting as a part of sport.

“It is disappointing that both networks have failed to meet their responsibilities on such high-profile sporting events.”

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has recently announced a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, including reviewing the effectiveness of current restrictions on limiting children’s exposure to such products and services.