A major broadcasting association is examining whether Channel 10 News violated its franchise conditions by issuing an on-air apology in September for its profile of U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
If the Second Television and Radio Authority determines that Channel 10 News did violate the franchise conditions, it could impose sanctions.
The Second Authority found that the decision-making process that led to the apology was flawed, but that the apology was not prompted by pressure from shareholders, the Second Authority council said last week.
It said the extended apology, which described mistakes that were made in the profile, was prompted by "a risk assessment" related to the threat of a lawsuit.
"The company board of directors was deficient in failing to have a discussion of the issue in a manner that would have allowed the chief editor to tell the board of directors his opinion," the council said shortly after a hearing for Channel 10 News, its directors, its legal advisers and its shareholder representatives.
In an effort to give news teams more editorial freedom under similar circumstances in the future, the council decided to consider giving more power to public board members, who currently make up 40 percent of the board, and mandating a supermajority board vote on certain issues.
Channel 10 said it was pleased by the council's finding that it had acted independently, and said it would be happy to discuss ways to "strengthen pluralism and the marketplace of ideas."
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