September 04, 2018 13:58:27
Channel Seven has announced it will seek a judicial review after the national media watchdog ruled a panel discussion on Indigenous children earlier this year was “inaccurate”.
- As part of the discussion, commentator Pru MacSween spoke about the Stolen Generations
- ACMA ruled the segment “provoked serious contempt on the basis of race”
- Channel Seven described the decision as “a form of censorship”
The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) today released its findings into the ‘Hot Topics’ segment, which was broadcast during breakfast show Sunrise on March 13.
The discussion, in which an all-white panel gave opinions on the removal of indigenous children from their families, sparked a protest outside the station’s Martin Place headquarters during which about 100 people chanted and held signs outside the Sunrise studio.
ACMA ruled Channel Seven had breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, “provoked serious contempt on the basis of race” and “contained strong negative generalisations about Indigenous people”.
The ‘Hot Topics’ chat featured commentator Prue MacSween, Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage and Brisbane radio personality Ben Davis.
Ms MacSween said removing at-risk children from their homes was a “no brainer”, and: “Just like the first Stolen Generation where a lot of children were taken because it was for their well-being, we need to do it again.”
‘Political correctness preventing discussion’
The station’s director of news and public affairs Craig McPherson said the segment was an important matter of public interest.
“The irony is that the very issue the commentators were critical of, that is political correctness preventing meaningful discussion and action, has come to bear with this finding,” he said.
“The finding seeks to rule out issues and topics for discussion segments, as determined by ACMA.
“Its decision is a form of censorship; a direct assault on the workings of an independent media and the thousands of issue-based segments covered every year by Sunrise, other like programs, newspapers and talkback radio.”
A week after the segment went to air, Sunrise broadcast a follow-up chat on the issue which ACMA said was “a more informed discussion”.
“Broadcasters can, of course, discuss matters of public interest, including extremely sensitive topics such as child abuse in Indigenous communities,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“However, such matters should be discussed with care, with editorial framing to ensure compliance with the code.”
While ACMA cannot enforce penalties, in previous similar cases broadcasters have issued corrections and apologised.
September 04, 2018 13:27:32