TV networks face barrage of email complaints

By David Knox on August 31, 2009 / Filed Under News 21

dataUnder proposed changes to the Code of Practice, viewers will be able to complain about television programmes simply by sending an email to the network.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has recommended the code be amended to allow the electronic lodgment of complaints so problems are picked up early and dealt with quickly, reports The Australian.

If the move goes ahead, networks would need to hire extra staff just to deal with the complaints. As it is, they deter audiences from contacting them via email. Nine even dropped its open forum on its website, strategically shifting comments devoted to specific shows.

In order to lodge an official complaint about programmes, viewers must send a written complaint sent by mail. Under the proposal viewers would still be required to provide details of the program, the time slot and all the personal information needed for the network to respond.

Free TV Australia is pushing for only one complaint from a person about the same issue to be accepted.

Source:  The Australian

21 Comments »

  1. ST September 14, 2009 at 11:13 am -

    Well hip hip hooray Australia…..
    Let’s hope it makes some difference. I for one would be happy to pay a TV license to cut the adds. Then you can remember what it was you were watching.

    I agree with JohnTV: if Nine can pay Eddie $5 million to host a half hour game show, then they have the money to employ some people to answer complaints. I would go even further to say, if I felt I could help improve things, I would go for a job myself :)

  2. CrAig August 31, 2009 at 10:12 pm -

    Firstly people who complain about shows not starting on time are pests. Get over your pathetic issue. Go and get a cup of tea if ur show isn’t on yet. And if ur iq’ing it… Then learn to tape the show after. End of issue.

    Secondly why on Earth should T.V stations be forced to accept email complaints?? Forced to have every halfwit with a computer give their 2cents worth on programming issues. Other companies aren’t forced to accept email complaints, why is TV different? And just how much do u pay for ur TV licence?
    I think if a complaint is serious enough, then a person should have to sit down with their fountain pen, get out the letterhead, spray the stationery with perfume, lick the stamp and toddle on down to the post office.
    But then again, then they would miss the start of their next show, and we all hate that! It’s much better to type emails while watching the show. I imagine the server will go into meltdown when Underbelly is on.

    Sorry for the long post. If i had to send it in via snail mail I’d have gotten bored by now. But as it is, I might write another because God forbid I think GNW just ran over! Again! Oh and David, while we’re at it, could u pls list a ph number for TV tonight. I’d prefer to phone in my comments from now on. It’d be quicker and I could get more info across. Can’t be bothered typing.

  3. bindi August 31, 2009 at 9:55 pm -

    Someone BBBA- i disagree i think that this will give an opportunity for people other than the nutters to finally have a say because the only ones who can be bothered actually writing letters are those nutters you speak of. but ordinary people with reasonable views will put the effort into sending an email. although i can see what you are talking about because i have heard about those american groups launching all their followers into action against the moral outrage of the week. i just hope that there aren’t that many of those groups in this country, or that the groups which are here are a less militant about their “causes”.

  4. Baggygreen August 31, 2009 at 8:16 pm -

    @jay jay. You are kidding right. I missed the last 10 minutes of Dexter lat week even after including a 10 minute overun on IQ. And thats just off the top of my head. You’re not a network Executive are you??

  5. Benno August 31, 2009 at 6:03 pm -

    jay jay, i may not watch them, but family members regularly get frustrated by their games. I’ve never written a letter to a TV network. I wrote one to ACMA once, but they said there is nothing they could do, so i gave up on them. Learn to complain correctly? Are you saying that they haven’t yet got the message yet and that a properly worded complaint will make one iota of a difference? Difficult to time a schedule? They manage to time it perfectly for 18 out of 24 hours of the day…

  6. jay jay August 31, 2009 at 5:24 pm -

    @ Benno – it obviously does bother you as you felt the need to post a comment on here. What shows are starting late? Learn to complain correctly. The networks need specifics. What about starting late is making you upset? The networks will listen but you need to learn to play their game. What alternatives do you have? I doubt you realise how difficult it is to time a schedule.

  7. jay jay August 31, 2009 at 5:21 pm -

    complaints will still need to be legitimate and networks will still have the same amount of time to respond, maybe even longer if they predict an influx of complaints. I have also heard that if email complaints are allowed, Free TV Australia will look after all complaints and filter them out.
    Being able to freely complain is something we shouldn’t take for granted. It is a shame a few ruin it for everyone and complain about anything and everything. Just because you can complain, doesn’t mean you need to. Is a show starting 5 minutes late really causing that much interruption to your life? 2 sex scenes in a movie and the classification only lists 1? FTV should be accountable but where did society go wrong when complaining about boobs on TV became more important than complaining about corrupt concils, pointless wars and so on?!

  8. Benno August 31, 2009 at 5:10 pm -

    Dear channels seven, nine and ten,

    I have watched practically nothing you have aired in the past year and a half. Your refusal to abide by the absolute basic rule to start shows on scheduled time is utter stupidity, as are many other contemptuous practices which you regularly practice. I am not demanding that you correct this, as it doesn’t bother me one way or the other. No matter what tactics you develop to reel back lost viewers, it won’t work, as a camel’s broken back is very difficult to mend. Let me know when you have completed audience and consumer relations 101.

  9. Someone BBBA August 31, 2009 at 2:32 pm -

    This is not about audience feedback. It is about censorship. Viewers already have the ability to make complaints online about whatever they want. The only thing that will change under this proposal is nutters will now be able to bombard the networks with a barrage of complaints every time a sex scene or boob shot goes to air, and have these complaints officially recognised by the government. Honestly, it will turn us into the US, where the Parents Television Council lobby their members to send out hundreds of thousands of complaints. So unless you want to see an increase in television censorship, there is no reason to support these changes.

  10. KFed August 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm -

    I would have thought the networks would be delighted with this, all they need do is set up a generic autoreply (“thank you for your feedback on the program…”) and carry on ignoring complaints as usual. No staff needed at all.

  11. FJ August 31, 2009 at 1:02 pm -

    About time. I would have complained about a few things but sending things via post then waiting 30 days is just too much hassle IMO.

  12. Andrew B August 31, 2009 at 12:32 pm -

    Like any business, if they kept their customers (viewers) happy by providing proper service, then they would not have so many complaints to deal with.

  13. LadyWriter August 31, 2009 at 11:53 am -

    “Under the proposal viewers would still be required to provide details of the program, the time slot and all the personal information needed for the network to respond.”

    Can they also ask people to use spellcheck and have a passing acquaintance with grammar, too?

  14. JohnTV August 31, 2009 at 11:05 am -

    What the audience has something to say about the TV they watch !!! Heaven’s forbid !!!

    Maybe what FTA could do is look at what the complaints they are receiving are about and take some steps to reduce their occurrence. I don’t know maybe starting shows on time, classifying them correctly, running the correct promos in the correct time slots, running the advertised program.

    One of the main reasons why the telecommunications industry has improved (still not perfect) its customer service is because of the complaint procedure it has which allows people to complain and receive timely feedback and resolution.

    Welcome to the corporate world FTA… and anyway if Nine can pay Eddie $5 million to host a half hour game show, then they have the money to employ some people to answer complaints.

  15. JenC August 31, 2009 at 10:53 am -

    About time! Considering networks want us to use the internet and email to send in comments and suggestions that they use or read in their programs shouldn’t they also accept complaints by the same means. After all we are just trying to help them keep us watching.

  16. mikeys August 31, 2009 at 8:25 am -

    Fantastic idea! Welcome to the Nineties :D

  17. Bazza August 31, 2009 at 7:27 am -

    Of course they don’t want us to have a right of reply, most broadcasters believe they’re above the law and providing an invaluable and quality service.

  18. steven guy August 31, 2009 at 7:16 am -

    I can’t wait for this to happen. It’s about time those who supposedly bring us the modern world stepped into it. I’m lining up a few draft emails already !

  19. Clint August 31, 2009 at 7:11 am -

    Sounds good to me. I think ‘Frontline’ had a great rant about how useless the current system is, and I don’t believe it’s changed since then (over, what 15 years ago?), so e-mail, and also web site complaints should go ahead, who cares if they have to employ more people, complaints are complaints, and as public broadcasters they have to stand up to scrutiny, from everyone!

  20. Neon Kitten August 31, 2009 at 6:36 am -

    Awesome.

    ACMA, ignore FTA. They of course just want to ignore the viewers as much as possible.

    Sadly, though, the outcome of this will be the same as what viewers get now via conventional mail – a form letter that doesn’t answer or address reality at all.

  21. Craig August 31, 2009 at 6:29 am -

    The move is long over due but I agree it does pose a problem as it’s so easy to spend a few minutes typing up an email to complain about things in the heat of the moment. Sending a letter is a pain so many people don’t bother and by the time they get to write it they are over the issue.

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