Amanda Duthie, the ABC’s Head of Arts, Entertainment & Comedy, has conceded responsibility for the editorial processes of The Chaser’s War on Everything episode last week.
On Monday evening, Media Watch pointed out that ABC guidelines state that controversial material needs to be referred upwards, all the way to the Managing Director if necessary.
Duthie, who is responsible to Courtney Gibson, the network’s executive head of content creation, confirmed that she had viewed the Make A Realistic Wish sketch and failed to refer it upwards.
ABC Editorial Policies 2009 notes: Staff involved in satirical content need to consider the potential for satire to cause harm to groups or individuals and should refer upwards as required in accordance with 4.1.4.
4.1.14 says: If content is controversial or likely to have an extraordinary impact, the most appropriate senior manager should be notified in advance…
Duthie’s answers to Media Watch enquiries are staggeringly brief: confined to four “yes / no” and two “N/A” responses.
MW: Do you normally view episodes (or insert segments and scripts) of ‘The Chaser’s War on Everything’ before they go to air?
MW: Were you notified about its impending broadcast under editorial policy 4.1.4?
MW: If the answer to either question 3 or 4 is ‘yes’, did you either refer a decision up to, or notify, ABC Television’s Executive Head of Content Creation, Courtney Gibson and/or the Director of Television?
MW: Editorial policy 4.1.2 states: If staff do not refer the issue upward, he or she will be responsible for the editorial decision made. Do you take responsibility for the decision to broadcast the skit in question? If not, does the ABCs executive producer, Sophia Zachariou? In either case, what consequences are likely?
Apologies have been issued by the network, the team and ultimately having the show suspended for two weeks.