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ACMA clears Sky News over Adam Giles’ interview with Blair Cottrell

Sky News’ Adam Giles did not breach the subscription TV broadcast guidelines in his interview with far-right nationalist Blair Cottrell, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has found.

The ruling comes almost three months after the program went into recess and appointed two new directors to manage the station’s weekend programming.

The Adam Giles Show went into recess after the interview

At the time, former Sky News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos, said the channel “deeply” regretted the interview, describing it as an “error of judgement”. The Adam Giles Show returned to air in October.

However in late August, a complaint was made to The ACMA, arguing the Sky News program was in breach of the subscription Broadcast television code of practice, as Cottrell has used his appearance on the program to advocate for racism, islamophobia and intolerance.

According to the code of practice, licensees are not allowed to broadcast any program which is likely to provoke or perpetuate intense dislike, serious contempt, or severe ridicule against a person or group of persons on the grounds of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or sexual preference.

“These arguments are highly offensive and based in racist and exclusionary thinking. Mr Cottrell used his appearance on the program to advocate racism, islamophobia and intolerance. Sky News were not just complicit in this but advertised his views on their social media,” the complainant said.

“While we note that Sky News have since removed this content from their channels there are still questions to be answered about how he was booked to appear on the program in the first place, what due diligence was done and what steps have been taken to ensure this does not happen again.”

Sky News said it had already taken a number of actions to address the concerns of the complainant, but did not accept it had breached the code of practice.

The licensee of Sky News, Foxtel, added an ordinary, reasonable viewer would have been unlikely to consider they were being provoke or incited to share feelings of intense dislike.

“Instead, the ordinary, reasonable viewer would have understood that they were being presented with Mr Cottrell’s personal opinions regarding the controversial immigration debate within Australia,” a submission said.

The ACMA ruled an ordinary reasonable viewer would have been made aware of Cottrell’s fair right viewers by the various signposting during the interview. For these reasons, it ruled the high threshold test of ‘intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule’ was not met.

Adam Giles and his program returned to air at the beginning of October.

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