ABC makes full apology to Ita Buttrose’s ex-husband over claims he was “selfish”

Asher Keddie as Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants

The ABC and production company Southern Star have today publicly apologised to Alisdair Macdonald, the former husband of magazine editor Ita Buttrose, over claims made in the mini-series Paper Giants.

The apology comes after Mumbrella reported last week that the defamation case had been settled out of court in mediation.

Further details of the settlement remain confidential, but DVDs of Paper Giants have been withdrawn from sale. The apology will also be broadcast on ABC1 next Sunday.

Macdonald took legal action after the show depicted him being threatened by Buttrose’s success, finally deserting his pregnant wife and young child.

According to Macdonald, the marriage continued for another three years after the birth of his second child, and he had not been contacted by the producers of the show to verify the way he was portrayed.The statement read as follows:

“Recently the ABC broadcast “Paper Giants – the Birth of Cleo”, a dramatised account of Ita Buttrose’s founding of Cleo magazine.  The program depicted Ms Buttorose’s first husband Alisdair Macdonald, abandoning her at the time of the birth of their second child. The ABC and Southern Star, the producers of Paper Giants, accept that this is untrue. The ABC and Southern Star withdraws those suggestions unreservedly and apologises to Mr McDonald and his family for them.”


  1. Harry
    30 Apr 12
    2:11 pm

  2. Will there be a review of the ABC’s legal department given the obvious and glaring defamation in this series? It is all very well to subcontract drama out to independent companies and seek sureties from them that the program will contain nothing defamatory. But when the shit hits the fan the lawyers will go for the party with the deepest pockets, the broadcasters. This case should be a salutary lesson for the ABC that when you make a show making one person the centre of the drama and keep them on as a consultant etc there is always another point of view that you should investigate before rolling the cameras. I feel very sorry for Mr McDonald and would imagine the settlement would be huge and possibly not covered by either the ABC or Southern Star’s insurers.

  3. Hoin
    30 Apr 12
    3:14 pm

  4. Good thing I bought my copy before this garbage came out.

  5. zumabeach
    30 Apr 12
    3:17 pm

  6. It’s called never letting the facts get in the way of the fiction when juicing up the storyline. But with the next act of the magazine wars coming to a small screen near you – Nene King versus Dulcie Boling – those in charge had better fact-check the script within an inch of its life.There are all sorts of people from back then, including a multitude of support players,who have their own versions of the New Idea-Woman’s Day dogfight and what passes for truth. Good luck in trying to sort that one out!

  7. Sally
    30 Apr 12
    3:18 pm

  8. Does anyone else think it’s a little strange that Ita B didn’t try to set the record straight?

  9. Jacqueline Lang
    30 Apr 12
    3:25 pm

  10. Seeing as we the taxpayers fund the ABC, I wonder whether we have to fund this payout? Hopefully they have insurance for this kind of thing, does anyone know? Anyway the ABC has a responsibility to us taxpayers that they don’t cock up when making TV dramas. A dramatised tale about Ita is not exactly Four Corners, where pushing the legal boundaries is generally worth it.

  11. Harry
    30 Apr 12
    4:52 pm

  12. Jacqueline there is insurance known in the industry as Errors & Omissions Insurance which is mandatory for anyone producing drama who wants to licence it and sell it internationally. However in order to make a claim the onus is on the insured that it has done all the due diligence required so the prospects of a defamation claim are slim. You can’t rely on the insurance otherwise. Claims on such policies are very rare so perhaps an insurer may pay out for purely commercial/relationship reasons and not legal reasons.

  13. michele
    30 Apr 12
    5:47 pm

  14. Agree with Sally – Ita was a consultant on this program I seem to remember from the credits – strange that she wouldn’t pick up on the missing 3 years and defend AM!!