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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Law change after Big Brother case
Big Brother Australia's website
Contestants Ashley and John were removed after the alleged assault
Australian broadcasting laws will be changed to cover webcasts following allegations that a contestant on Big Brother was assaulted.

No prosecution could be brought against Network Ten because the footage of the alleged incident was streamed online and not shown on television.

Communications minister Helen Coonan said the loophole would be removed.

Prime Minister John Howard called for the show to be scrapped. No charges were brought but two men were evicted.

Tapes were handed over to police after a female contestant appeared to be held down by one man while another rubbed his crotch in her face.

Officers said no further action would be taken and the woman involved had not lodged a complaint with them.

'Detailed review'

Ms Coonan referred the programme to Australia's television standards watchdog.

But the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) decided that no rules had been broken.

This was because the images were seen only by adult subscribers who had paid to see a feed of the activities in the Big Brother house.

"Given the community outrage about this matter, it would appear the codes applying to television programme classifications may also be out of step with community standards," Ms Coonan said.

"In addition to legislative changes, I will direct ACMA to conduct a detailed review of whether the free-to-air television code of practice is operating to provide appropriate community safeguards in relation to reality TV programming," she added.

Situation 'misread'

Earlier this week, Network Ten had insisted the programme was not in breach of any regulation, saying it "adheres to all broadcasting codes of practice and all relevant rules".

The two housemates involved have maintained their innocence in an interview published on the Big Brother website.

"It was just a bit of a joke, intended only as a joke," said the housemate known on the show as John.

The other contestant, known as Ashley, was quoted as saying the situation had been "misread" and blown "way out of proportion".

"There was no harm intended in what we did," he added.

Watch clips from Australia's Big Brother

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23 May 02 |  Big Brother

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