Watchdog investigates Tonightly's Batman sketch over ABC complaints

May 04, 2018

The broadcasting watchdog is investigating whether the ABC breached its codes of practice by labelling an Australian Conservatives politician a "c---".

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, in March, ABC “comedy” program Tonightly With Tom Ballard aired a skit about Melbourne co-founder John Batman(because of Batman's role as a colonist - and his involvement in the murder of Aboriginal people - a push is under way to rename the electorate of Batman).

During the skit, "comedian" Greg Larsen suggested the electorate's new name should be "Batman-was-a-c---", because "we cannot shy away from the terrible things he did". The segment also featured a Photoshopped campaign poster of Australian Conservatives candidate Kevin Bailey, which described him as a "c---".

Larsen joked he had done this because Bailey had refused an interview request.At the time, Communications Minster Mitch Fifield complained to the ABC, whose Entertainment chief David Anderson called Mr Bailey to apologise.

But Minister Fifield was unsatisfied with this response and recently escalated his complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The Authority has confirmed it has received several complaints from ABC viewers since March, and has already started an investigation. Specifically, the watchdog will assess whether the skit breached the ABC's own codes of practice, which ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie insisted in letters  to Minister Fifield and Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi, it had not.

"The ABC shouldn’t need a formal code or an ACMA investigation to tell it that hurling abuse at an individual in that manner is not in keeping with the standards expected by Australians. After all, they are the ones paying for it.” Senator Fifield said.

Fifield is also aggrieved by an ABC comedic video containing the phrase "white c---s", which appeared on the ABC Indigenous Facebook page. Titled Wake Up To Yourself, it parodied a controversial Sunrise segment in which commentator Prue MacSween supported the removal of Aboriginal children from their parents. However, ACMA does not have the power to regulate non-broadcast material.

To read Michael Lallo’s article in full, click here.

To view the offending section of the program (warning profanity-laden video clip), click the box immediately below:

To listen to what Senator Bernardi had to say about it, click the box below:

Picture: "Comedian" Greg Larsen

To join the Australian Conservatives, click here.


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