Its not often that the Australian Communication and Media Authority throws its weight around on issues concerning commercial television and journalism ethics.

Today is an exception. ACMA has found that Channel Nine broadcast racist material in a news item about changes to the baby bonus scheme aimed at parents with gambling and addiction problems.

The ACMA report can be read here.

The finding concerns a news program screened on 19 March last year. According to ACMA’s report on the complaint, it opened with a reference to “deadbeat parents who blow their baby bonus on drugs and alcohol” and then cut to visuals of Aboriginal people, together with references to the quarantining of welfare payments in the Norther Territory. The segment closed with more footage of Aboriginal families.

Channel Nine argued the report was merely factual, but ACMA found that the segment gave undue emphasis to race and treated Aboriginal families with less sensitivity than other parents featured in the item.

Channel Nine has gotten off with a promise to incorporate the findings into its regular program of training for news staff.

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