ACA / TT war: “This should all stop now”
Tracy Grimshaw offers a truce, of sorts, for 6:30 shows to stop their own TV bully wars.
A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw last night addressed the issue of using Today Tonight‘s footage earlier this week.
During an editorial Grimshaw even offered a truce to its rival, of sorts, to both stop using each other’s footage.
“Let me say I think it’s a shame that a valid debate about the losing and age-old battle against bullying in schools has been overshadowed by an unseemly public squabble over TV rights,” she said.
“Casey Heynes had a right to speak about his ordeal and his actions and he chose to speak to us. We were impressed by him, as were you. The other boy involved, 12 year old Ritchard Gale chose to speak to Today Tonight.
“We ran some excerpts from that interview as soon as possible after we heard from Casey on Monday night and our viewers heard both sides. Our opposition claims that use of their interview was not fair.
“If we wanted to bore you all stupid we could detail the countless times they have used our exclusive interviews and passed them off as their own… but it’s ok, we won’t.
“Suffice to say this should all stop now and we are happy for it to do so. Is Today Tonight willing to guarantee that it will never use our exclusive vision again? It’s over to them.
“In the meantime let’s please not be distracted for one more minute from the far more important issue of kids and bullying, because we all know that too many schools still accept it as inevitable. And far too many parents are powerless or clueless about how to stop it. Solutions need to be found because kids like the two we’ve heard from this week, are suffering.”
It’s certainly hard to disagree with the tenor of this editorial.
Viewers do want our 6:30 shows to quit their feuding. They know these shows -both of them- have used each other’s footage. And they know that bullying is a prevalent issue.
But A Current Affair hasn’t acknowledged the primary complaint: that it played an entire segment from Today Tonight, being 4:30min of an 8:30min story that it passed off as its own. This was unprecedented.
Both shows have a legal right to use excerpts from news sources under the Fair Dealing act in Copyright.
The problem isn’t in actually using a rival’s footage. It is in disguising or cutting around watermarks that communicate to the audience ‘this is sourced material.’
ACA‘s length and failure to embellish the TT footage was another problem.
None of these have been adequately addressed by Nine or Grimshaw, as they lean upon the truism that TT has been using ACA footage with regularity. It has, but is legally entitled to do so within a larger story.
TT‘s blocking of ACA watermarks (reaching a crescendo during the Brian McFadden story) was equally poor form.
That said, Today Tonight‘s on-going behaviour impacts far less upon its host Matt White than ACA‘s does on Grimshaw.
White rarely conducts interviews or editorialises to the same degree as Grimshaw. This is partly why it was necessary for her to address the issue on air. Good on her for acknowledging it. It can’t be pleasing to go from a Walkley Award to introducing a clip from the competition. She was clearly let down on M0nday night. Her skill in turning a negative into a positive last night is indicative of her experience.
So where does this leave us?
Actions speak louder than words. Get back to producing journalism. Observe Fair Dealing limits. Acknowledge sources. Listen to your audience.
And lastly… while audiences are jaded by that unseemly squabble, there has never been a better time for 6pm With George Negus to make the leap to 6:30.