In addition to the provisions of the General Media Code of Practice, specific essential principles underpin the self-regulation of TV and radio in Samoa:
· The need for news or current affairs programmes to be presented with due accuracy and impartiality, and without political bias or in a way intended or likely to secure party-political advantage, or to give undue prominence to the views or opinions of the licence holder or service provider on matters of public policy.
· The need to avoid in programmes material that causes harm or unnecessary offence, or which is likely to encourage or incite crime or seriously anti-social behaviour, or to offend public feeling, taking into account generally accepted standards in Samoa, unless there is editorial justification or it is in the wider public interest.
· The need to avoid techniques likely to distress, harm, deceive or exploit people, by use of flashing lights, hypnosis, distorting images or by conveying subliminal messages, or in any way influencing the minds of viewers and listeners without them being fully aware of what has occurred.
Broadcasters should respect truth and human dignity and have due regard for susceptible groups. Where material is unsuitable for children or is likely to cause significant offence among the expected audience at the time of broadcast, clear guidance should be given to allow people – especially parents concerned for their children - to exercise appropriate and informed judgment.
2.1 ACCURACY, FAIRNESS and IMPARTIALITY (See also General Code)
2.1i Factual programmes concerning controversial political, industrial or public policy issues must ensure a wide range of significant, relevant views is fairly reported, and presented even-handedly, in a single broadcast or balanced over a series in a reasonable timescale.
2.1ii Presenters and journalists must not to compromise their impartiality by advocating products or giving undue prominence in programmes to their own views or political opinions.
2.1iii Reconstructions, or the use of actors or models to illustrate news reports, or of flashbacks and library pictures, or similar techniques, must be clearly identifiable as such.
2.1iv Interviews: Contributors to programmes and interviewees must be treated fairly and straightforwardly, and their contribution not distorted or misrepresented by editing or presentation. Wherever practical, they should be told the purpose of the interview, their role in the programme and the nature of other relevant contributions.
2.1v Subterfuge, secret filming or other deceptive practices to obtain interviews or footage should not be used or broadcast unless in the public interest. See general code.
2.1vi Non-factual programmes, such as drama or drama documentaries, must not portray facts or events in a way unfair to an identifiable individual or organisation.
2.1vii Individuals or organisations, against whom damaging allegations are made in pro-grammes, should normally be given a fair opportunity to respond.
2.1viii Competitions should be conducted fairly and without favouring individual contestants.
2.2 PRIVACY (See also General Code)
2.2i Broadcasters must have due regard for the privacy and human dignity of victims when covering public or private tragedy, disaster, war or civil disturbance, and there should be clear editorial justification for any material broadcast.
2.2ii Distress to survivors - or the immediate families of victims - of a tragedy, disaster or serious trauma should be kept to a minimum when preparing broadcasts and, where possible, they should be told in advance of any programme, reconstruction, analysis or drama in which they, or a close relative who has died, feature significantly.
2.3 HARM and OFFENCE
2.3i Broadcasters must avoid causing unnecessary offence, harm or distress by the use of images, behaviour or language, subject to the duty to report in the public interest and to uphold freedom of thought and expression, including access to adult films, drama, humour or satire. Material which may cause offence, as judged by generally accepted standards, must be justified by context, appropriately labelled and scheduled for non-family viewing times.
2.3ii Distressing scenes, depicting death or trauma, close-ups of dead, dying or mutilated bodies, or of execution or torture, or serious violence against people and children, or death or cruelty to animals, should be broadcast only if there is a clear editorial justification, and then normally only after an appropriate warning to viewers or listeners.
2.3iii Violence: Broadcasts featuring strong visual or audio depictions of violence, including sexual violence, should be avoided unless justified editorially or, in a dramatic context, as necessary to the programme.
2.3iv Sex and nudity: The explicit portrayal of sex or sexual relationship, or nudity in a sexual context, must not be broadcast at a time when children or families are likely to be viewing or listening, without clear editorial justification and appropriate warning.
2.3v Offensive language must be avoided unless there is editorial justification, and very strong language should be broadcast only after appropriate warning to viewers or listeners.
2.3vi Inciting crime: Broadcast material must not incite or condone crime or serious anti-social behaviour. Demonstrations of criminal methods must not be broadcast without editorial justification, and in such cases detail should be limited to minimise the risk of imitation.
2.3vii Kidnap and hijacking: Special care must be taken not to broadcast information which is likely to be received by kidnappers or hijackers and put lives at risk or prejudice legitimate attempts to resolve the crisis.
2.3viii Imitative anti-social behaviour: Broadcasters should avoid glamorising harmful or anti-social behaviour - including suicide, illegal drugs, solvent abuse, vandalism, smoking and alcohol abuse - especially where they are likely to influence children or vulnerable people.
2.3ix Disturbing images: Care should be taken to filter out of broadcasts, wherever possible, flashing lights or other images potentially harmful to people affected by photo-sensitive epilepsy. Where this is impractical, appropriate warnings should be given to viewers.
2.3x Occult, exorcism and the paranormal: Care should be taken when featuring non-fictional demonstrations of the occult, exorcism, the paranormal and related practices to be factual and objective and to avoid giving life-changing advice.
2.3xi Hypnotism and subliminal techniques: Broadcasts must not affect the sub-conscious state of susceptible viewers or listeners by inducing hypnosis, or by the use of subliminal techniques to convey information at or below the threshold of normal awareness.
2.4 RELIGIOUS PROGRAMMES (See also General Code)
2.4i Broadcasters, while respecting an individual’s right to hold and practice religious and denominational views, must ensure that religious programmes do not misrepresent or discriminate against an individual’s beliefs or disparage another faith or denomination.
2.5 Sponsorship and undisclosed promotions
2.5i The content or scheduling of a programme must not be influenced by a sponsor in any way which affects, or appears to compromise, the broadcaster’s editorial independence.
2.5ii Sponsorship of news or current affairs programmes covering contentious public issues must be avoided, unless in discrete specialist sections, such as sport, weather, or business.
2.5iii Any reference to the sponsor within the programme should be incidental, non-promotional and have clear editorial justification.
2.5iv Sponsors should be chosen with care to ensure their products or services do not align with programme content in such a way as to make regular reference inevitable, or are otherwise inappropriate – i.e. alcohol or tobacco sponsorship of children’s programmes.
2.5v Product placement, except in clearly identifiable advertising breaks, is not permitted. Undue prominence must not be given to named brands or services, unless justified editorially.
2.5vi: Broadcasters must not charge for access to editorial programmes or allow undisclosed promotions. Where charges are made for editorial-style airtime, the broadcast should be clearly labelled as paid-for promotional or community-service material.
2.5vii Supplied video or recorded material from or on behalf of official bodies, commercial companies, or campaigning or promotional organisations should be broadcast only with editorial justification, and then clearly labelled as such.
2.6 GUIDANCE, LABELLING and SCHEDULING
2.6i Broadcasters must take care to ensure that viewers or listeners are not unexpectedly confronted by material that is likely to cause harm or offence to susceptible people.
2.6ii Programmes containing material which may offend or harm, according to generally accepted standards, should be clearly labelled and appropriate warnings given. Such content would normally include:
· Strong or profane language;
· Serious or sexual violence, sexual scenes or sexual nudity;
· Distressing visual or audio material, involving death, serious injury or tragedy;
· Humorous or satirical references to religion, or deeply-held cultural values;
· Material unsuitable for children, broadcast when they are likely to be affected.
2.6iii Guidance should be clear, consistent and standardised. Where practical, classification should be compatible with other relevant guidance, such as that of the Samoan Censor on films, or the labelling regimes of major foreign suppliers of broadcasting material to Samoa.
2.6iv Films banned by the censor should not be broadcast, except for brief illustrative clips, justified in the public interest - such as in a news report or debate on censorship.
2.6v Scheduling of programmes should avoid broadcasting material which may offend or harm during times of family viewing or listening. If the context – such as a harrowing news report – makes this impractical, the need to broadcast clear warnings is intensified.
2.6vi Adult-only TV programmes should not, as a general guide, be broadcast before 9.00pm. The transition from family viewing should be graduated, with no inappropriate trailers run before this threshold, nor an abrupt change to the most adult content immediately after.
2.6vii As Samoan social customs often lead to children being potential viewers much later than 9.00pm, warnings of unsuitable content should continue well after the threshold to allow parents to exercise appropriate control over their children’s viewing.
2.7 ELECTION REPORTING
2.7I Broadcasts of election coverage must take particular care to show impartiality and balance throughout the election period, to ensure no party is given unfair advantage.
2.7ii Due weight must be given to the principal parties, and appropriate coverage to minority parties and to independent candidates with significant policies.
2.7iii When reporting on individual constituencies, the same opportunity to appear in a broadcast must be offered to candidates from each principal party, and others with significant current or past electoral support. However, a candidate cannot exercise a veto by withholding consent. A list of all candidates standing in the constituency should be broadcast.
2.7iv A politician invited to speak purely on general policy should not be offered the chance to make constituency points if rival candidates are not given a similar opportunity to do so.
2.8 broadcasting for children (See also General Code)
2.8i Special care must be taken by broadcasters to protect children and young people under 18 from material which might harm their moral, psychological or physical welfare.
2.8ii Programmes aimed at children under 16, or likely to be seen by them, must not glamorise or condone criminal, harmful or anti-social behaviour easily imitable by children, such as offensive language; drinking, smoking, or drug or solvent abuse; violence, vandalism and self-harm. Such material must not be broadcast when children are likely to be listening, without editorial justification and an appropriate warning.
2.8iii Particular care must be taken to avoid including distressing content in programmes intended for, or likely to be seen or heard by, children. Where this is unavoidable, such as in news reports involving tragedy or violence, appropriate warning should be given.
2.8iv Sexual material or nudity, unless having a clear educational purpose or other editorial justification, should not feature in children’s programmes. No such material should be broadcast when children are likely to be listening or viewing, without editorial justification and an appropriate warning.
2.8v Programmes portraying the paranormal, the occult and exorcism should not be broadcast when children are likely to be watching or listening, unless editorially justified.
2.8vi Children taking part in programmes must not be exploited, suffer unnecessary stress, be questioned beyond their normal knowledge or competence, or be put in moral, physical or psychological danger or otherwise harmed by their participation.