There are several recommendations intended to be implemented by the Australian media industry. These recommendations are designed to ensure that content is created by news media companies that reflect a true balance between current affairs and also a conservative point of view. Additionally, there should be more focus put on producing news content that is more informational rather than opinion based. Also, current affairs programming on the news media should be more balanced in its approach.
Another recommendation would be to implement a code of conduct to all companies that provide online media services in Australia. This code of conduct should include a disclaimer that states that the company is not promoting any opinion, commercial transaction or promise regarding the business or products it is representing. Also, this code of conduct should clearly define guidelines for the types of content that the company will accept as well as those they will reject.
The definition of unacceptable material should make it clear that the company will refuse to publish materials that reflect any form of hate, racism, sexism, nudity or any form of objectionable content. It is important that the Australian media industry develops its own guidelines as to what it deems to be appropriate content.
The inquiry has established that there has been a lack of awareness and understanding of media diversity issues within the Australian media industry. There is a need for greater awareness and understanding of the issues of media imbalance and the impact it can have on the Australian society as a whole. The inquiry has also found that there has been a significant increase in the number of complaints that have been made to regulatory bodies but little progress has been made in regard to correcting these problems.
The inquiry has found that there is a need for an independent body to oversee the effectiveness and management of the various complaints handling systems that are currently in place. Part of this requirement would be to introduce a statutory obligation for media companies to undergo training and develop new practices in order to correct diversity issues in their approach to providing online and digital media.
It is very important that the media landscape is maintained in an effective and equitable manner. It is also recommended that an appeal system is introduced so that complainants can escalate their complaints to senior figures if necessary. The establishment of an ombudsperson would also go some way towards ensuring that the public debate about media diversity in the Australian media environment remains free and open.
Part of the recommendations contained in the explanatory memorandum of the Australian Media Industry Taskforce is that designated digital platform corporations must establish and maintain a mandatory code of conduct. This code of conduct is designed to provide an outline of their conduct and it is also supposed to apply to their hiring practices.
This explanatory memorandum goes further to recommend that all employees in digital media businesses are required to have a reasonable understanding of the concept of the mandatory code of conduct. Digital business activities must be conducted in an appropriate, professional manner and this is expected to be reflected in their conduct.
The inquiry also recommended that news media bargaining code of conduct be amended to include an explicit reference to the existence of the mandatory code. The current situation whereby many news stories have been fabricated or exaggerated in order to achieve higher ratings or more traffic has become widely known in the industry. Media companies have been contacted by complainants regarding fabricated news stories and by providing statements that have been misleading to the public through omission or inclusion.
News organisations have been urged to use their powers of investigation to verify that stories are accurate. In instances where the company is unable to identify a fraudulent activity, the offending media company must immediately correct the misinformation.