Sunrise defamation suit to proceed

A defamation suit brought against the Seven Network over a Sunrise segment will proceed after the network failed to have it stricken out in the Federal in Sydney on Wednesday.

15 members of the remote Northern Territory community of Yirrkala claim the show defamed them by playing slightly blurred background footage of them during a panel discussion in March 2018.

During a discussion around a newspaper article, commentator Prue MacSween suggested Indigenous children should be taken from their families “just like the first Stolen Generation.” It drew headlines, protests and an industry breach by ACMA.

The footage was originally filmed with consent for a health promotion in Yirrkala.

Seven’s barrister Kieran Smark, SC, argued there were issues with identifying those in the footage.

But Justice Steven Rares disagreed, saying, “You’ve got a whole community up there, most of whom will be able to recognise each other, some of whom watch Sunrise.

He ordered Seven to pay the costs of the hearing.

After outrage over the segment Sunrise addressed the topic with members of the Indigenous community.

Source: SBS Photo: Greenleft


  1. I’d argue they’ve now defamed themselves. Nobody outside that community would have been able to identify who they were. Now they’ve brought a lawsuit and everybody knows who they are and where they live.

    I would also argue that any reasonable person would not connect that blurred out footage over a panel discussion on abuse would consider the footage to be of the victims. We all know abuse victims are generally not identified.

    • These would be terrible arguments to make. People’s lives exist within their community, so it doesn’t matter how many people recognised them – but that they were recognised.
      Then it associates them as perpetrators – there’s a reasonable expectation that footage obtained for use with health promotion, is not then aired on a commercial network framing it as regarding abuse, whilst actively vilifying a specific population through the discussion happening over the top of these images.

      • I disagree that it associates anyone as perpetrators. By that logic, any file footage of blurred school children in abuse stories makes them victims and that school guilty of abuse; makes any file vision of motorists guilty of speeding/drink and drug driving/avoiding tolls; shoppers guilty of shoplifting and so on.

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