According to media reports, Channel Seven, Sam Armytage and commentator Prue MacSween are set to be sued for racial vilification following the collapse of a settlement around a Human Rights Commission case.
In 2019 Seven agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit with a remote NT community, after blurred footage of the group was used during the now-infamous discussion around removal of Indigenous children. Seven also agreed to pay the costs of the proceedings.
In 2018 a panel discussed a newspaper story around the removal of vulnerable indigenous children, with MacSween suggesting, “Just like the first stolen generation where a lot of kids were taken for their wellbeing, we need to do it again.”
The Australian Communication and Media Authority found the segment to be in breach of the Commercial Television Industry Code Of Practice leading to an agreement by Seven for an independent audit of its production processes for current affairs.
But legal firm Susan Moriarty and Associates said in a statement said the eight Aboriginal complainants were “forced” to take their case to the Federal Court after settlement discussions collapsed.
Indigenous elder Aunty Rhonda, who is leading the complaint, said, “This nationwide broadcast by Channel Seven in March 2018 was another symbol of national shame and another appalling example of the deeply entrenched virus of racism that still plagues white platforms of privilege in this country,” she said.
“Channel Seven’s subsequent disingenuous downcast eyes and ‘we’re so sorry’ murmurs, after we protested and their racism was called out, mean nothing to us when they refuse all reasonable requests for proper repatriation of the pulverising hate, humiliation and distress we feel every day of our lives.”
However Seven is yet to be formally advised of any proceedings.
A Seven spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Although we don’t disbelieve the reports, Seven is not aware of any actual claim being filed at this stage – so is not able to comment on this action.
“If and when anything is filed, we will review and take the appropriate steps. Seven settled the original matter in late 2019 in the Federal Court with the Yirrkala community and the Yolngu families and offered an unreserved apology on air shortly after.”
Updated: Sam Armytage responds.