Mass Boycott Of Sky News After Blair Cottrell Interview
Greens MP lodges ACMA complaint after "arsehole" interview.
Federal and state politicians plan to refuse future invitations to appear on Sky News, after the subscription channel aired an interview with far-right leader and convicted criminal Blair Cottrell.
Sky hosted Cottrell, leader of the extremist United Patriots Front group, on Sunday night during a show hosted by former Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles.
Cottrell admitted to being a "racist" in a 2016 ABC interview, has been convicted of numerous serious offences -- including inciting serious contempt of Muslims after an incident where he and others staged a mock beheading -- and once said pictures of Adolf Hitler should be displayed in Australian classrooms.
Giles, who referred to Cottrell as an "activist", asked him about issues such as migration and refugee policy. Backlash against the interview was swift, with many criticising Sky for giving him airtime. Criticism was so vocal 'Nazi' became a trending term on Twitter in Australia.
Sky issued a statement hours after the interview aired, and removed clips of Cottrell's interview from its social media pages, but the network stopped short of issuing an apology.
On Monday afternoon, Sky issued a further statement speaking of deep "regret" at the incident, that Cottrell would never appear on its air again, and that the Adam Giles Show would be put on "recess".
Sky is an important and influential platform in Australian political discourse. The 24-hour news channel features state and federal politicians all day, with elected members often using regular appearances to build their profile or announce policy and voting intentions.
The Cottrell interview led to several politicians announcing they would boycott future appearances on Sky until the channel issued a proper apology.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge told ten daily he will submit an official complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, claiming Sky had breached Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association's broadcasting standards merely by airing the views of such a person.
The ASTRA code of practice forbids members to broadcast content which may "provoke or perpetuate intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule" on grounds including gender, ethnicity, race or religion.
"I think on any view, giving air to opinions of Blair Cottrell breaches that standard," Shoebridge told ten daily.
"If I had a Foxtel subscription, I would cancel it. A half-baked apology is no apology at all. I’ll be maintaining my refusal to go on air. I’d call on other MPs to do the same."
Federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne, deputy chair of the parliament's Joint Intelligence and Security Committee, told ten daily he too would reconsider future appearances on Sky.
"I don’t often go on anyway but after [the interview] I would seriously struggle to go on their network if asked. What I saw aired on that network tonight was beneath contempt," he told ten daily on Sunday night.
"We fight his race hating malice down in my area . To see him normalised by Sky in the way he was tonight shocks me to my core."
Fellow Labor MP Peter Khalil, a regular guest on Sky, said on Twitter he would reconsider his appearances. Following Sky's statement, he wrote a Facebook post saying he appreciated the retraction but that "news outlets should also show judgement and have a responsibility not give a platform to vile bigotry."
ten daily has spoken to two other federal MPs who said they would seriously reconsider appearing on Sky in future.
Victorian state Labor MPs Philip Dalidakis and Martin Pakula also criticised the channel.
Former Labor minister Craig Emerson said he had cancelled his contract with Sky as a commentator.
Sky hosts slammed their own channel for broadcasting Cottrell's interview. It is the second time in just weeks Sky was forced into an apology, and its hosts heaped scorn on fellow broadcasters, after a controversial interview with David Leyonhjelm.