ABC to broadcast apology to Chris Kenny

the-hamster-wheelThe ABC will broadcast an apology to columnist and SKY News presenter Chris Kenny tonight a Hamster Wheel sketch that depicted him having sex with a dog.

It will screen at 9pm tonight, following a formal defamation settlement that includes paying all legal costs and some damages to Kenny, according to News Corp.

The move will also mean the Chaser team cannot republish the material or make public statements that detract from the settlement.

The sketch which aired last year on ABC1 resulted in a lengthy and embarrassing dispute for the broadcaster, leading to a belated apology by managing director Mark Scott.

“At the time of broadcast, I described the skit as tasteless and undergraduate, but noted that it raised questions about the nature of satire and the boundaries of free speech afforded to satirists, comedians and cartoonists,” he said in April.

“Notwithstanding any ACMA finding however, I have come to the view with the Director of Television that the ABC should not have put the skit to air.

“As a consequence, I would like to apologise to Mr Kenny for the ABC having put the skit to air, his depiction in the skit and because it was triggered by his criticism of the ABC. I am sorry for the distress this incident has caused him and his family.”

Kenny has previously indicated he wanted an apology rather than legal proceedings or settling out of court.

Last month ABC sent an ‘Open Letter’ to Kenny’s lawyers and media offering not to seek legal costs if it wins the case -an offer rejected by Kenny.

21 Comments:

  1. People like kenny are just ABC haters.not even an apology will satisfy him .I agree the ABC should have apologised from the start regardless ifthe chaser did or not . Rght wing extremists like kenny bolt and alan jones will never be appeased theywill find fault with the apology as well as they did .

  2. The Australian Backpedal Corporation has nothing to apologise for. It’s just another News Corp beat-up, with Kenny used as their pawn.

  3. Thank you to the ABC for advertising the time this on. I can turn the TV off, make a cuppa, avoid this complete waste of airtime and then resume watching your excellent programming again. I suggest like minded people do the same and make this the lowest rating apology in Australian history.

    @Pertinax, you are joking right? “Standard to make apologies in the same timeslot…” I have never seen this happen. Kenny’s own News, for example, can put what it likes on the front page, but most certainly does not apologise there. I agree that this should be the standard, but it isn’t, not in commercial “journalism” at least.

    Thank goodness the ABC has far higher standards 😛

  4. Pertinax,

    You are kidding are you not, voters of all persuasions listen to right wing commentators?, even the dumbest of voters would know the one way bias, Sunday mornings when i am feeling a little down I turn over to the Bolt Report, then I perk up and laugh away at his blatant bias, to the point I an my husband ask is his show really a send up of a real CA right wing show or is he just a try hard Alan Jones.

  5. Secret Squirrel

    “They only ever make begrudging apologies…”
    So, no different from every other media outlet then.

    The skit was a bit ruff and the Chaser Boys have been sent to the doghouse with their tails between their legs, but hopefully it Rex no-one’s career. Anyone invoking the protection of freedom-of-speech for this is barking up the wrong tree as it is a red herring.

    More importantly, has anyone heard from the dog’s lawyers?

  6. I’m surprised comments on this story are allowed seeing other stories about legal issues don’t allow comments.

    I’m even more surprised at the comments that have been allowed to be put up.

    • MJL: It’s a civil case. Kenny has indicated “They can mock me, they can tease me, they can find examples to ridicule me with all they like but somewhere there has to be a line.” While there is some mocking, I don’t believe there is a line crossed here.

  7. @rach
    Conservative politicians appear on the ABC to get attacked from the left by them because it boosts their credentials as conservatives. When they actually want to get a message across to voters they appear on right wing talk back radio.

    The Chaser can criticise Kenny all they want, he wouldn’t care. Showing him having sex with a dog because he criticised the Chaser is another matter. As Scott said it should never have gone to air.

  8. So it’s ok for 99% of Sky news presenters to bag the ABC and Andrew Bolt flashing ABC so called in his opinion “left wing presenter pics” on his show, but someone makes joke, yes a joke, they run off to the courts.

    Thank God we have ABC 24 cause with Fox and Sky news the balance reporting is just a disgrace, but of course they can say what they want because they are not being paid by the tax payer, but as a taxpayer I want to hear and see balanced reporting, if it was no balanced reporting on the ABC why would conservative politicians even do interviews?

  9. Some comments reflect the ignorance and nastiness that unfortunately has crept into Australian society. I wonder if the Chaser team would have attempted a skit with a female journalist having sex with a dog?
    As Chris Kenny pointed out, he was targeted because of his criticisms of the ABC. How’s that for free speech? Some viewers may find toilet humour dressed up as satire amusing. However, when it it used to denigrate and humiliate , it is questionable to say the least.

  10. Just quietly, there is no legal cover of ‘freedom of speech’ in Australia.

    And even if we did, it, like in the USA only prevents the government from shutting down free speech. Slandering a journo isn’t covered and he is free to pursue legal avenues.

    Let’s be fair, it wasn’t the Chaser’s finest crafted joke. It could’ve been diffused ages ago with a quick apology, everyone could move on and the Chaser can get back to making more content.

  11. Boogie Howser

    I enjoyed the joke and understood the satirical point it was making without for a moment thinking it was a real photo of Chris Kenny. No room for the likes of me in modern Australia. 🙁

  12. Freedom of speech? Even the most ardent of campaigners for it would be disgusted. This was always going to be the outcome, the ABC shouldn’t have dragged their heels for so long.

  13. Finally common sense prevails. And good on Kenny for holding out for an apology in the same timeslot.

    The ABC were using the threat of legal costs as intimidation to again avoid a simple on air apology. They made it an open letter threat to try and further humiliate Kenny and pretend that they were getting some sort of victory over him and News Ltd out of it.

    They could have broadcast a simple on air apology admitting the sketch was undergraduate and went too far and it all would have been over in a week and taxpayers would have been saved all the legal costs.

    All this is simply because the ABC is determined to hide its mistakes from its viewers so they can pretend to be infallible like The Pope. They only ever make begrudging apologies, bury them where they are hard to find, and have always refused to make on air ones, especially in the same timeslot, which is standard…

  14. Freedom of Speech – not! Now Chris Kenny can resume his favourite sport – ABC bashing in The Australian and on Sky News and the Chaser boys can return but with much less sting in their tail. The new normal!

  15. Frankly, between George Brandis as AG, and Tim Wilson as Human Rights Commission, the Chaser boys (and anyone else) should be able to get away with calling anyone anything.

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