ABC executive apologises to Kevin Bailey over Tonightly skit

March 23, 2018

A senior ABC executive has apologised to Australian Conservatives candidate Kevin Bailey after he was labelled a "c---" on Tom Ballard's Tonightly program.

The ABC reports, the corporation’s head of entertainment, David Anderson, phoned Mr Bailey this week after the controversial skit made headlines.However, the ABC insists the apology does not mean it was wrong to broadcast the segment and says it is following due processes.

"The material was reviewed by the program teams prior to broadcast and posting, ensuring both complied with the ABC's editorial standards on harm and offences and also the appropriate classification standards," an ABC spokesman said.

"In addition to these responses, director of entertainment, David Anderson, has contacted Mr Kevin Bailey, explained the context and apologised for any personal offence caused by the sketch. Any formal complaints about breaches of editorial policy or classification standards will be investigated through the normal processes."The segment involved a joke about renaming the Melbourne electorate of Batman to "Batman-was-a-c---" over John Batman's treatment of Indigenous Australians. Comedian Greg Larsen then introduced mock by-election posters carrying the electorate's new name.

While the Greens and Labor candidates had "Batman-was-a-c---" Photoshopped onto their posters, Mr Bailey's poster was singled out.

"[There] was an issue because there is no Batman anywhere on that poster," Larsen said. "So I've had to put Kevin Bailey was a c---," he joked. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has told Sky News the skit was unacceptable and the ABC should issue an unreserved apology.

"Vitriolic abuse of this kind has no place on the national broadcaster," he said.

Australian Conservatives leader, South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi wrote to the ABC and Communications Minister about the slur against Mr Bailey.

It has been argued that the national broadcaster breached section seven of the ABC Code, which states it should "never gratuitously harm or offend" and must be "justified by the editorial context". There is also a view the word "c---" was too harsh for Tonightly's M-rating.

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