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ABC claims Natasha Exelby has not been sacked after on-air blunder

ABC’s director of news Gaven Morris has labelled media reports that ABC News 24 newsreader Natasha Exelby has been pulled off-air after footage of her not paying attention went to air as “untrue”.

The footage, which went to air on ABC News 24 late on Sunday night, shows Exelby staring down at her hands and fiddling with a pen following a report, before realising she is back on camera.

Exelby’s shocked reaction, before swiftly switching to the sports’ report, gathered traction on social media, and by last night News Corp was reporting in an exclusive that Exelby had paid a “high price for her weekend blooper, after the humourless management at ABC24 banned the newsreader from playing any future on-air role”.

The ABC’s Morris has since hit back at the reports, acknowledging that while the national broadcaster strives for quality, its reporters are humans not robots.

“Live television is a demanding art and slip-ups will happen – our presenters are humans, not robots. We take on-air standards extremely seriously, but we don’t expect perfection. No one would ever be punished for a blooper and, while it isn’t appropriate to publicly discuss confidential details of people’s personal work arrangements, this has not happened to Natasha,” Morris said.

“Media reports that Natasha has been “banned”, “barred” or “fired” are untrue. Natasha is a freelance journalist who works as a contributor. She has been rostered for various shifts and has been assured since yesterday that we want that to continue. While she is currently not doing any on-air shifts, this will be subject to normal performance management. I have spoken to Natasha and conveyed our regret that this has attracted such attention”.

Following News Corp’s exclusive, various prominent figures, including Bill Shorten, jumped on the bandwagon and condemmed the ABC’s alleged move.

The only comment from Exelby so far was yesterday afternoon on Twitter, when she thanked the public for its support.

In 2013 Exelby was cut from Ten’s breakfast program Wake Up after just 16 days, as the chemistry between presenters James Mathison, Natarsha Belling and Exelby was deemed not to be working.

 

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