When “F” is for Failure

Nearly 18 months ago, I initiated a Senate Inquiry into the broadcasting codes of practice. It was prompted by the foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay being shown during an inappropriate timeslot. Not only did the c-word get an airing in one episode, but in another, Mr Ramsay let fly with 80 f-words in less than 40 minutes…and I am not talking about fondue!

To say I received a lot of colourful suggestions as a result of this inquiry would be an understatement. I was told in Ramsay-esque language to ‘turn it off’ and ‘get a life’ and to ‘stop wasting the Senate’s time’. It is interesting to note that many of the same critics are now condemning the radio stunt that publicly humiliated a young girl into disclosing she was raped when she was only 12-years-old.

The inquiry wasn’t initiated due to some puritanical zealotry on my behalf, but because I was (and remain) concerned about the material that our children are being exposed to through inappropriate radio and television broadcasts.

It is hard to argue that the increased level of gratuitous bad language, explicit sexual references and lack of courtesy evident in so many programs has actually improved our society. In fact, it is much easier to demonstrate the opposite.

Whilst it is often argued that programming reflects society, more often mass media plays a lead role, always pushing boundaries to shock and titillate in an attempt to draw attention to itself.

The inquiry resulted in 20 recommendations to strengthen our broadcasting standards and improve the process of clarification, compliance and complaints. The recommendations were supported by both sides of politics as a means of halting the downward spiral of grubby and inappropriate broadcasting.

Now, some 14 months after the report was tabled nothing has been done. The Government has not only failed to take any action regarding the report but it hasn’t even provided a response to the recommendations.

This lack of action suggests that good government has once again fallen at the hurdle of common sense. Rather than act in a timely manner to reinforce the need for decency in our broadcasting standards, the Government’s lack of action gets an ‘F’ word of its own.

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