Q&A investigation: “This matter is now closed.”

ABC fails to 'fess up on why a provocative panel was so imbalanced, when its own recommendations call for it.

ABC has “resolved” the 235 complaints it received around a provocative Q&A episode in which panelists were heard to endorse violence.

The episode on November 4 as part of the Wheeler Centre’s feminist ideas festival, Broadside, copped complaints over language and a failure to challenge radical views, in response to violence against women.

Last month ABC managing director David Anderson said, “Q&A has always sought to tackle difficult issues and present challenging and thought-provoking content. However, I can understand why some viewers found elements of this episode confronting or offensive.”

Host Fran Kelly, who cautioned a panelist over coarse language, later conceded she should have done more during the broadcast over remarks around violence.

“When the panel didn’t disavow that call, it was my job, and in a fast-paced and furious discussion, I missed that opportunity,” she said.

Outgoing Q&A host Tony Jones also told TV Tonight,“If we were to go back and reinvent the panel we probably would have had a panel with alternative views, who might have actually argued if someone had talked about violence being an answer -even if they were just being rhetorical.

“But unfortunately the panel didn’t contain anyone who fiercely contested that idea.”

Now ABC has released a summary of its findings in which it says removing the show from circulation was part of its response … others have described that move as censorship.

But the broadcaster has neglected to detail why the panel was so imbalanced, something a previous Q&A investigation recommended in 2015.

Summary of findings:

The ABC took the following action:

    • The Managing Director issued a media statement acknowledging that the program was provocative, and that he could understand why some viewers found elements of the episode offensive or confronting.
    • The episode was subsequently removed from the ABC’s iview platform and from the Q&A program website and the scheduled repeat broadcast of the episode on the ABC News channel did not proceed. An Editor’s Note was appended to the website: Editor’s Note: The November 4th edition of Q&A is no longer available to view online on ABC platforms. The ABC acknowledges that this episode offended some viewers who interpreted some panellist statements as advocating violence. The ABC does not condone violence in any circumstance. For the record the program transcript remains available.
    • Q&A distributed via social media a further contribution from one of the panellists to clarify her views on topics raised in the program, which she did not feel she had the opportunity to express: https://twitter.com/QandA/status/1192230181869625345.

An ABC spokesperson said: “ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs has concluded its finding in response to audience complaints about the 4 November broadcast of Q&A. The primary concerns raised in the complaints were that the program contained excessive coarse language, that it didn’t appropriately canvass all relevant views about the matters raised, and that there was a perception that some of the language used encouraged violence.

“Audience and Consumer Affairs found that ABC management’s decision to remove the episode from iview and cancel planned repeat broadcasts was sufficient action to resolve those complaints. This matter is now closed.”

17 Responses

  1. I’m the only person so far to comment favourably about the episode, and Q & A and the ABC in general.
    This Lefty found the discussion invigorating and relevant. No need to apologise or pull the ep in my opinion. I’ve heard worse come out of every male shockbjocks mouth, and many politicians have been guilty of worse too.
    May Our ABC have a long and successful future, and continue to keep the bastards honest, whilst pushing the boundaries. Happy Holidays poiples ?

    1. No you’re not the only one. I for one am disgusted at the ABC for removing it & not replaying it because of some complaints from a few rabid hard right people. Hard right shock jocks get away with far more & are still on air.

      1. … no, read the story – the ABC did not remove it from circulation because of “some complaints from a few rabid hard right people”, they received complaints and then, as a result of their own internal review, supported the decision to remove and stop replaying the program. So, if you want to blame anyone for your not being able to watch it again, take it up with the staff at the ABC who conducted the review and made that decision.

  2. What an awful, but unsurprising response from the ABC. With the exception of a small number of comedy shows, the network is a waste of tax payer funds.

    Removing the episode from iView and not replaying it just says let’s pretend this never happened. They should make it freely available so tax payers can see what sort of trash our taxes are funding and how poorly run the ABC is.

  3. I think the ABC should stop allowing such easy access to extreme left of centre fringe groups. Yeah sure have them on occasionally as their views should be heard. But to align so heavily with the Wheeler Centre is just plain dumb. The trope of the hard left is to divide and foment hatred. The news and docos on the ABC are on the whole fair and balanced. Their problem is panel shows, commentators and easy access to the radio waves by the hard left…..

  4. I used to enjoy Q&A in its early form but steadily lost interest as it became a political vehicle for creating headlines and gotcha moments, Tony Jones was consummate making the show his status symbol especially when high flyers like Mr.Turnbull were a guest, the audience questions came over like a parliamentary Dorothy Dixer so that Tony can chime in with the political question of the day. The ABC did over time make Q&A less user friendly for conservatives, especially if there was a political agenda involved that was making the front page, so it’s hardly surprising Q&A gradually became a soap box for lefty activists and radicals.

  5. Not a great response from the ABC. With the amount of commentary from News Corp and other media outlets criticising general bias at the ABC, you would think Aunty might have come up with a tougher and more honest finding. The response kind of boils down to ‘it was controversial and our mixed response of half removing the episode and half apologising for it was fine and we’re just done with it now’, which I don’t think is good enough here.

    1. “The episode on November 4 as part of the Wheeler Centre’s feminist ideas festival…..”

      I don’t think the Wheeler Centre’s feminist ideas festival attracts many conservative women

        1. laurie “Would you think many conservative women would put up with that behavior!’

          We are talking about the ABC , and Q&A in particular, there anything is possible in regards to behaviour.

      1. That may be, but the panel had nothing but extreme-left women, not even moderate or centrist perspectives, let alone conservative (who almost never appear on this horrible train-wreck of a programme). Look no further than Jordan Peterson’s episode, where the overwhelming majority of the audience directed their questions to him, and the two women on the panel disrespectfully jeered at and insulted not only their fellow panelists but members of the audience as well! Who handpicks such puerile people to have a “grown-up” conversation?

        Balance is absolutely integral to a sensible, balanced, and mature discussion, but on the increasingly rare occasion that I have tuned in, the extreme-left leaning nature of the programme is a bloodcurdling ordeal to endure and I am often flabbergasted by the inane rhetoric espoused by the panelists. If this is what the world has come to, I want off.

  6. I think balance is very important in news, debate, reporting, opinion and discussion. I think desired progress won’t happen or it would be short lived from imbalanced views because it’s not from a firm foundation. If there is stubbornness to neglect imbalance, then the lessons have not been regarded from the previous Q&A investigation in 2015 and the recent investigation, the same mistakes could happen again.

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