Court reporting

Media reporting - George Pell & regulations

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 17th January 2018

Charges against George Pell, alleging historical sexual offences, were filed on 29 June 2017.

It's important for all community broadcasters to understand their legal requirements when reporting on this and similar matters, including:

  1. Section 4 of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958;
  2. Any non-publication orders in force in respect of this matter; and
  3. The principles of sub judice contempt.
Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958

Section 4 of the JPR Act makes it an offence to publish or cause to be published any particulars likely to lead to the identification of a person against whom a sexual offence is alleged to have been committed, whether or not a proceeding in respect of the alleged is pending in a court. See attached letter below for more detail.

Proceeding suppression order

A proceeding suppression order is currently in force in respect of this matter. The order prohibits publication of a number of matters including:

  1. The nature of the charges against the accused, save for the fact that they are historical sexual offences.

This could be, for example, a description of the allegations including the location and a description of the conduct.

Sub judice contempt

As this matter is currently before the courts, the principles of sub judice contempt apply. Reporting should therefore be limited to a fair and accurate report of proceedings. Reporting of opinions or speculation about George Pell's guilt or innocence, or his ability to receive a fair trial, offends the sub judice principle.

Get more information on this matter in this letter from Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Gavin Silbert QC: PDF iconLetter to Media.pdf

Facebook comments



The article discusses the relationship between third sector broadcasting (TSB) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL). The article aims to show that there are legal obligations derived from IHRL which require States to contemplate TSB in their broadcasting policy, and, to demonstrate that TSB has a significant potential to contribute to the realization of IHRL goals. Specific issues discussed include how Freedom of Religion requires States to provide means of access to the airwaves for religious groups and how TSB can be used as an affirmative action measure to increase the participation of members of traditionally disadvantaged groups in the media.


Recent events in Western Australia have once again raised the issue of family violence and the urgent need for greater public awareness of this widespread social problem. 


Very few scholars of community radio in Britain have discussed funding in detail since the introduction of full-time community radio licences in the country (Lewis 1977, 2008, 2012; Lewis and Booth 1989). Some have pointed out the possible pitfalls in the British case of reliance on social objectives funding (Gordon 2009). Bearing in mind the historical development of community radio in the United Kingdom, this article, traces the contours of the origins and development of community radio under the New Labour government. It discusses how the change in the political landscape, with the landslide victory of the Labour Party in 1997, affected the social, cultural and media policies that followed. While, in the end, the sector got what it had campaigned for since the first lobbying efforts in 1977 (Lewis and Booth 1989), the current shape of the sector was much influenced by the political context after 1997 and the strategies adopted to get the legislation through in 2004.