Married At First Sight Australia has been under investigation for airing “gaslighting” episodes featuring Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson.
However, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found the scenes did not breach the Commercial Television Code of Practice.
The three episodes aired in March 2021, with two classified as PG and one classified M. When assessed by the ACMA, it was found that “no breach” had taken place.
A spokesperson said “the content could be accommodated within the respective classifications” and that the adult theme in the M-rated broadcast was “handled with care, extensively critiqued and adequately contextualised.”
The investigation was prompted by complaints from viewers about the relationship between Bryce and Melissa, which many viewers claimed was abusive.
Fans were so outraged by Bryce’s treatment towards Melissa, a Change.org petition titled “Make the Nine network apologise for failing duty of care (Bryce and Melissa, MAFS)” was created.
It is interesting to note that the media watchdog was not tasked with ruling whether or not the couple’s relationship was abusive or whether Nine or production company Endemol Shine had failed in their duty of care towards certain participants.
It was only asked to assess whether the episodes complied with the requirements of the Commercial Television Code of Practice.
What Did ACMA Say About Their Decision To Clear Married at First Sight?
An ACMA spokesperson said: “Following viewer complaints, the ACMA assessed whether three episodes of MAFS that aired in March 2021 complied with the requirements of the Commercial Television Code of Practice. The ACMA assessed two episodes classified PG and one classified M. The investigation found no breach and that the content could be accommodated within the respective classifications.
“In the case of the PG-classified episodes, the ACMA found that themes within the programs, including social conflict, were carefully handled, and included extensive critiquing and positive aspects of the relationships. This resulted in the overall impact of the content not exceeding mild impact.
“In the case of the M-classified episode, which is intended for mature audiences, the ACMA found that an intense adult theme explored in the program was handled with care, extensively critiqued and adequately contextualised.
“The ACMA acknowledges the classification provisions in the code are not specifically designed to deal with some of the concerns raised by complainants.
“Classification provisions deal with the way in which certain themes are treated and the impact of that treatment on the program audience. The code does not deal with matters relating to the licensee’s treatment of contestants, which was the focus of some viewer complaints.”
What has Channel Nine Said About The Complaints?
Bryce and Melissa have always maintained their relationship is not abusive. The couple are still together and recently welcomed twins Levi and Tate.
In April, Channel Nine apologised to viewers who made complaints with a generic email, but insisted the episodes did not breach any broadcast standards.
While the network said it was sorry for how the show made some viewers feel, it noted “we do not consider the material broadcast [to be] of such a level as to have breached the M guidelines.”
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