A skit on ABC-Australia that showed a doctored photo of a reporter having sex with a dog broke the Australian government regulator’s guidelines,
As iMediaEthics has written, last year, the ABC aired a skit that called News Corp. journalist Chris Kenny a “dogf**ker.” Kenny had been critical of the ABC. He successfully sued for libel over the report and won an on-air apology from the ABC last month.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ruled June 14 that ABC offended viewers with the skit, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
ACMA explained how and why the skit broke ABC’s guidelines on “content that is likely to cause harm or offence.” ACMA wrote that having sex with a dog is, ahem, “intrinsically likely to have caused a high level of offence.”
The ruling continued that “there were some factors that mitigated that offence but, notwithstanding that mitigation, it was still likely to offend; and while its editorial context was framed by the satirical nature of the program and other related considerations, its broadcast was nonetheless not justified by the editorial context.”
ACMA’s chairman, Chris Chapman, was quoted in ACMA’s press release about the ruling saying the segment “crossed the line.”
“The ABC’s standard must, and does, create a line beyond which material cannot be broadcast if it is not justified by the editorial context… In this case, the ACMA considers that the material crossed that line.”
The ACMA did rule that the segment didn’t break guidelines for “appropriate classification and adequate classification labels, warnings and consumer advice.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ACMA’s decision “overrules” ABC’s own 2013 ruling that the segment was acceptable.
In October 2013, ABC dismissed the approximately 200 complaints the network received over the skit, Australian news site Crikey reported.
ABC spokesman Michael Millett told Crikey that the network’s complaints department found that “the skit was likely to offend but the segment was justified by the editorial context.”
An ABC spokesperson told Australian media website Mumbrella the network is reviewing the ACMA ruling and noted ABC’s apologies to Kenny.
iMediaEthics has written to the ABC and ACMA for comment.