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.”