ACMA investigates 7:30 sketch

A satirical segment by John Clarke and Brian Dawe on 7:30 is to be investigated by the media watchdog for allegedly vilifying Christians.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has confirmed to that it will investigate a sketch which aired on October 27 last year.

In the sketch John Clarke poses as a mental health professional while Brian Dawe questions him about the treatment of asylum seekers, but Clarke is giving answers about the treatment of Canberra politicians.

Dawe: A lot of them must realise the damage they are doing?
Clarke: Oh, they do. A lot of them are Christians.
Dawe: So there would be a lot of guilt?
Clarke: A lot of guilt. A lot of denial.
Dawe: Look what they are doing to the asylum seekers.
Clarke: Perfect example. Perfect example.
Dawe: So they’d be blaming each other too, I’d imagine.
Clarke: Blaming everybody. I mean you can’t get anybody to admit to owning up to anything in the whole place.

You can see the clip here (offending moment at 1:35min)

A Perth school teacher complained to ABC and ACMA.

“You can clearly see that they are vilifying Christians as insensitive, callous and uncaring with clear inferences to the Opposition front bench and Tony Abbott, many who are Catholics,” he claimed.

“I just sat there for a minute and I thought, they’ve really overstepped the mark”.

An ABC spokesperson said ABC responded to the complaint and defended the program, but the complainant was “dissatisfied”.

“The ABC continues to stand by the program,” she said.

Maybe once ACMA makes its ruling Dawe could interview Clarke as an ACMA spokesperson and bring the thing full circle?

UPDATE: Thanks to ABC for advising, an outcome was actually already issued on Wednesday that found no breach.

Amongst its findings ACMA said, “The ACMA considers that an ordinary, reasonable viewer would have understood the segment to be about Federal Parliamentarians; and, that the comments about Christians to be limited to the ‘guilt’ and ‘denial’ Federal Parliamentarians of the Christian faith may experience in relation to some Federal Government policies, such as the policy to detain asylum seekers in mandatory detention.”

I think we have a new record for time taken to reach an outcome?


  1. Secret Squïrrel

    Only three months (or possibly less, depending on how long the complainant took to be dissatisfied with the ABC’s response) to reach a decision. Are things on the improve with ACMA’s turnaround? Right decision, too.

  2. The ABC should Not be taking these obviously loony complaints seriously….what is wrong with people? By the way in case anybody noticed a real story of significance regarding Australia’s disgusting environmental record is on Crikey today – the Great Barrer Reef possibly to lose World Heritage Status…well I guess that’s ok as long as we all have new plasmas to compensate…long live the reign of Gina and Rupert…..OMFG

  3. Alan Sunderland

    I don’t want to curtail in any way this fascinating discussion, other than to point out that ACMA released its findings on this a couple of days ago, and dismissed the complaint.
    You can find their decision here:
    “ACMA does not consider that the comments could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice against Christians.”
    It is absolutely appropriate that ACMA investigates such concerns when they arise, and the ABC for its part always welcomes due scrutiny. We are pleased with the outcome.

    Alan Sunderland
    Head of Policy
    ABC News

  4. Please, please, can we hope that Brian Dawes (as David Marr) will interview John Clarke (as Chris Chapman and head of ACMA) to get to the bottom of this obvious conspircy and attempt to drag ACMA into the treacherous world of satire and thus besmirch their good name with ridicule.

    However, has anybody else noticed that ACMA’s name is just one letter away from that firm that continues to send so- called ‘fool proof’ devices to Wyle E. Coyote – that never work and, worse still, always fail spectacularly leaving Wyle worse of than before! Just saying…

  5. MrJohnClarke is an equal opportunity satirist. Why should politicians pretending to be Christians be exempt? This is just too funny. People really are different in Perth!

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