ABC asked to please explain airtime for Sam Dastyari

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has written to ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie following an Australian Story episode profiling Sam Dastyari.

He has also raised questions over the airtime given to the Labor senator in a recent Media Watch episode as chair of a committee examining the future of public interest journalism.

Australian Story on July 31 profiled Dastyari to confront the political donations scandal that cost him his seat on the Opposition frontbench, interviewing Dastyari, his family and politicians on all sides.

But there were concerns around the timing.

“With respect to Australian Story, questions have been raised about the timing of the episode given the recent release of Senator Dastyari’s book,” Fifield wrote to Guthrie.

“I ask that you provide an explanation of the editorial decisions associated with the airing of the episode and whether, and how, the ABC factored in the recent release of a book by Senator Dastyari.

“I also draw your attention to the Media Watch episode ‘State of Play: news media versus the digital giants’ that aired on Monday 10 July.

“I would appreciate an explanation of the rationale for dedicating an episode of Media Watch to explore Senator Dastyari’s opinions on a specific issue.”

Last week an ABC spokeswoman defended the Australian Story episode, saying  “While giving viewers the essential background on these issues, Australian Story took the story further, getting Mr Dastyari to respond to lingering and serious questions about his conduct as a Senator.”

An ABC spokesman said Ms Guthrie would respond in due course, having only just received the letter.

Source: Fairfax, The Australian


  1. Mitch Fifield will not disclosure why the Government gave Foxtel $30 million dollars, and he’s chasing the ABC over a puff piece on Dastyari. Which is the lesser crime?

  2. Maev....Sydney

    Oh Please….have they not done stories on both the PM…and deputy PM at some stage…
    @JM …agree with you comment….pollies…just get on with the job you are paid to do…

    • Y’know, when you look into it, it’s surprising how many of those Australian Story profiles you mentioned happened to be 2-parters &/or aired around the time they were launching a book…

  3. Dastyari seems to be one of those eager beavers who’ll do almost anything to get his head on television, he must have loved every minute of AS. I gloomily predict he’s going to become ubiquitous again after pulling his head in for a while following his recent – ahem – Chinese embarrassment.

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