ABC pulls The Chaser for 2 weeks. Team apologises.

the-chasersIn a major response to public fury over a sketch this week, the ABC has opted to withdraw The Chaser’s War on Everything from its schedule for two weeks.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott made the decision following the controversy surrounding The Chaser’s sketch, “Making A Realistic Wish Foundation,” that went to air on Wednesday night.

The sketch depicted child actors as terminally-ill patients and was roundly blasted from manysections of media, politics, health industry and community. It illustrated the programme needs better checks and balances for what qualifies as satire, given the ABC recently pulled an ad parody from The Gruen Transfer.

It was only the second episode back on air after an 18 month production break. ABC is yet to indicate what will replace it.

The decision, made with the ABC’s Director of Television, Kim Dalton, followed discussions with The Chaser team.

“We have decided that this is the most appropriate course of action,” Mark Scott said.

“It gives the ABC an opportunity to complete a review of editorial approval processes. It also gives The Chaser a chance to regroup and review their material.

“In making the wrong judgement call we have let down our audience and the wider community. We need to fully review the ABC’s approval processes for programs that deliberately challenge public attitudes.”

Scott has unreservedly apologised for the distress caused, admitting the sketch had gone too far.

“While unintended, it has caused considerable concern and distress particularly to parents of seriously ill children,” he said.

In a blanket statement on their website The Chaser team says it is “disappointed by the decision, and we don’t agree with it. 

But that aside, we’d like to apologise.

“The piece was a very black sketch. Obviously too black. And we’re really sorry for the significant pain and anger we have caused.

“Many people have asked how could we possibly think a sketch like that should go to air. We realise in hindsight that we shouldn’t have done it. We never imagined that the sketch would be taken literally. We don’t think sick kids are greedy and we don’t think the Make a Wish Foundation deserves anything other than praise. It was meant to be so over-the-top that no one would ever take it seriously. But we now understand the sketch didn’t come across as intended, and we take full responsibility for that.

“Now we’ve seen the impact of the piece we wish we’d thought it through better. There was no value in it that justifies the impact it’s clearly had on people whose grief or trauma is so great already. We should have considered that.

“We got it wrong. We’re sorry.”

The move to suspend the show is an extremely rare one in local television, usually confined to particular performers who are deemed to have gone too far. The most famous response to a programme being pulled was when Kerry Packers pulled Doug Mulray’s Naughtiest Home Videos off air mid-programme.

The Chaser controversy this week will now surely become part of television infamy.

72 Comments:

  1. two words: chill pill. big freakin deal, i hear worse worse at my school. anyoune who gets offended by this needs to remember one thing which has been stated several times here: its comedy. Yes, it was bad taste but having it suspended was one of the dumbest things the ABC could have done. I say bravo Chaser for having the guts to touch something very few others would with a 100 foot pole

  2. Big T & Mighty B

    So in summary :

    1. Those that hate The Chaser are hypersensitive whingers;
    2. Those that love The Chaser are irresponsible & juvenile in their taste;
    3. The rest don’t care & find The Chaser neither offensive nor funny;

    Fair enough…?

  3. Some of these comments from people, make me think they’re almost as bad a people as those anti-gay activists in the USA…

    Or the SkinHeads.

    It’s that same kind of unflinchingly warped thinking that impedes
    humanities progress.

  4. It was a comedy sketch! It was funny “Black Comedy” It’s hard for the Chaser Team to get something done because everyone knows them! Look the media went nuts over APEC!! “A point less expensive crock!”

    And the Chaser get shot by everyone because they did this sketch! Its bloody comedy! Hence the name “The Chasers War on Everything!!!!! Have a laugh every now and then.

    Yes its off for 2 weeks. It really ain’t going to change anything.

    Can’t we all have a stick!

  5. explain to me how this is as bad as saying something racist it was a joke they weren’t making fun of dying children so who cares? if you don’t like it don’t watch it. the fact that people can get so worked up over this is just stupid the media exploit racism etc all the time for money, making a big deal out of nothing to get viewers and more profit yet nobody seems to make a big deal about that? its come to the point were you cant even make a joke anymore without somebody calling it racist or sexist etc which is pathetic the people that make a big deal out of every little thing are even more pathetic then the people that make the joke they are complaining about.

  6. I would’nt be surprised that the government steps in at the end of the series and gives the show the chop,which would be a good decision.I’m not so sure of the title saying team apologises.Were any of them sorry for what they did no not at all

  7. Funny how Good News Week gets away with making fun of the deaths of thousands (with their 9/11 song/joke the other week) while the Chaser gets hammered for a little skit on Make A Wish.

  8. What a complete over reaction. Does anyone really believe that sick kids should be mocked. Of course not!
    It was a skit- in a comedy show!!!…and it was gfnny!!!
    They weren’t real sick kids- theyre actors!

    There are so many more worthy things to get your knickers in a knot about- eg: Abortion- like hello- nobody says boo that Australia now allows innocent unborn children to be murdered everyday!!!

    …but u all get bent out of shape over a joke..

    It’s called straining at a gnat and SWALLOWING A CAMEL!!!!!!!

  9. In the context, it was only one sketch, out of how many? So much emphasis is being put into this one that it is like it was the only one they did for the entire show. Most people have moved on from it, but generalisations of the show based on a single sketch are very misleading. Nobody is saying that comedy automatically results from shock, but people are looking into the sketch far to deeply. This whole issue is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  10. I can’t believe so many people are WITH the chaser on this one! God people! Are we so devoid of decent comedy in this country that you feel the need to support a bunch of un-funny, attention seeking hacks that are victims of their own agenda.
    Everyone knows that the Chaser boys try and shock, but that’s not automatically comedy people!! They dreamt up this sketch to shock people, not because it was funny. Next time they are on there’ll be a sketch about how homeless people are useless members of society (or something similar). The days of the chaser boys are numbered, and all the better. Maybe then the ABC will put cash into some good comedy for a change.

  11. When I watched the episode I had no idea people were going to be offended by that sketch. I’m pretty shocked no one was disgusted by the Austrian incest family sketch. That was the thing that made me feel grossed out.

    Besides didn’t anyone get that the sick kids sketch was in reference to the economic turn down? The fact that people could no longer afford to spend money on charities any more so they were cheaping out on kids who really needed it.

    It wasn’t making fun of the kids, it was making fun of cheapskates who like to show off about giving money but when the purse strings tighten they can’t keep up their side of the deal.

  12. I wasn’t going to add anything more to this, but since TrojanTroy called me out for not “caring about the feeling of others”, let me just say two things:

    1. You have absolutely no idea how deeply I care about the feelings of others.

    2. What Benny said. Those complaining completely, totally and utterly missed the point of the sketch. And it wasn’t that hard a point to comprehend.

    Stay away from those News Limited papers, kids, they’re bad for you.

  13. @Someone says
    “James spare us of your pointless ad hominem logical fallacies.

    Wow you attacked my argument and made sure not to leave your name. And thank you, your argument is well supported by one sentence of opinion!

  14. There was a letter in Saturday’s SMH from a cancer doctor that summed this whole situation up very well.

    The sketch was not making fun of dying children. It was making fun of the self indulgent do-gooders who work for these organisations. The fact that they have put up such a feral reaction only shows The Chaser hit paydirt. Suspending this show is a national disgrace.

  15. Paull, i believe the ACMA code rules against shows which promote racism and other harmful activities. Poking fun at excessive wishes of children is relatively harmless. Do remember the same networks which paraded the racist riots not long ago, and exploit disadvantaged member of society on an almost daily basis, are now the same ones condemning a simple tasteless joke. Hypocrisy comes to mind.

    Context is another issue, and there are varying degrees of everything which may be offensive to some people. Is there public outrage every time Cartman from South Park says the word ‘jew’ in a derogatory manner? Would that be different if Rudd held a press conference and vilified jewish people, but laughed in a joking manner? The chasers didn’t go into a room and laugh at the dying children. The skit was clearly making a joke at the charity, and comparing it to racism is an unfair comparison. How dare they poke fun at Heath Ledger and the Fritzis…

  16. All these people that are saying “this is a gross act of censorship, it doesn’t physically hurt anyone so therefore there’s no need to censor it”.
    What if the chaser did a skit that was racist against, say, black, or aboriginal people? Or completely sexist against women? How would you react, keeping in mind that the skit would not physically harm anyone, rather just be completely disrespectful to people of other races.

  17. I’ve been an avid Chaser fan since the CNNN days, and I totally agree with the poster who laments the day they were anonymous Friday night fodder. It seems like now everyone knows who they are, they have to try harder to shock everybody, and it’s not funny anymore, just…dumb. The whole thing was dumb, like the vatican sketch last week. It wasn’t funny, it didn’t make a point, it was just shock for the sake of shocking.
    They’re fantastic political and social satirists. They should stick with that and give up on trying to ellicit hysterical responses from Helen Lovejoy types.

  18. @Janey
    “If the skit was funny or clever, then maybe it could be excused, but it simply wasn’t. What kind of people sit around a room and decide that making fun of a charity that grants the last wish of dying children is comedy gold? Why would they even go there? Just because they are “The Chaser” and that’s what they do, is not enough of a reason for me. Just because we live in a society that practices freedom of speech, is also not a good enough reason”
    But freedom of speech gives that right. Just like it gives you the right to talk about how much you hate it. You can”t distinguish between what is and isn’t funny and then decided it is or isn’t ok to show. No one is saying because they are the chaser they should get away with it, they are saying we shouldn’t back hysteria on cancel or suspend something because we don’t like what they say.

    Just like we can we hate what KKK members say or Anti gay groups spew out, living in a free society means we allow those to make their views heard regardless of our views on the matter.

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