A program on Australia’s Channel Seven suggested that a “‘generation’ of young Indigenous children [were] being abused.” This disturbing pronouncement “provoked serious contempt on the basis of race,” the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the nation’s broadcast regulator, ruled.
The broadcast also inaccurately claimed Indigenous children could “only be placed with relatives or other Indigenous families.”
These pronouncements were made in March 2018 on the Sunrise program.
“While it may not have been Seven’s intention, by implication the segment conveyed that children left in Indigenous families would be abused and neglected, in contrast to non-Indigenous families where they would be protected,” ACMA ruled. As such, ACMA ruled that Channel Seven broke ACMA’s regulatory guidelines.
In response, Channel Seven plans to appeal, arguing the segment was in the public interest, the Guardian reported.
iMediaEthics wrote to Channel Seven seeking comment on the ruling.
Channel Seven sent iMediaEthics a statement from Craig McPherson, Director of News and Public Affairs, which read:
“We are extremely disappointed the ACMA has seen fit to cast a label on a segment that covered an important matter of public interest, child abuse, sparked b y comments attributed to a Government minister and widely circulated in the press on the morning of the broadcast.
“While the ACMA recognises the segment was underpinned by concern for the welfare of Indigenous children, it has isolated comments from independent commentators without any context to the broader coverage given to this topic.
“The coverage included a detailed follow-up segment on Sunrise featuring expert analysis from leading Aboriginal leaders and academics who expressed appreciation this issue was finally being raised in mainstream media.
“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.
“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. The 7 Network will be seeking a judicial appeal.”