The Nine Network faces a payout of $200,000 if AFL Footy Show presenter Sam Newman causes any further offence following a media watchdog finding that he breached the commercial TV code by referring to a Malaysian man as a monkey.
A ruling issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority this morning said:
“A Sam Newman segment on Nine’s The AFL Footy Show has been found likely to have provoked severe ridicule and breached the commercial television code. Nine has agreed to pay $200,000 to charity in the event of any future breach by Mr Newman of the relevant code provision.
“The likely ridicule was against a Malaysian man on the basis of colour and race in a segment broadcast last year. Presenter Sam Newman commented on the marriage of a Malaysian man to a much older woman. The ACMA found Mr Newman’s repeated reference to someone as a sub-human primate (such as a monkey) and the statement that he is ‘not long out of the forest’ was a serious ridicule.
“A lack of reasonableness and good faith meant the exemption in the code for satire did not apply.”
The offensive segment was first highlighted by The ABC’s Media Watch.
Holding up the photo of the man and woman, Newman said: “What sort of monkey would be marrying that woman? Ah that monkey right there.”
He then added: This doesn’t go to Malaysia this program, does it?… That man is not long out of the forest.”
He later compared the photo to an image of the black tennis player Serena Williams.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: “‘Ridiculing or racially abusing dark-skinned people by comparing them to monkeys has recently received much media attention in Australia, particularly in and around the sporting arena. ‘We believe a sporting commentator such as Mr Newman would have been aware of these incidents and should therefore have been aware that using the word monkey in this manner would be likely to provoke severe ridicule.”
ACMA added that Nine had agreed to GTV Nine also agreed that Newman’s contribution top the Footy Show will include ” significant senior management overview of the materials to be used by Mr Newman and a broad-ranging reporting regime and training obligation”.
In addition, Nine will give Newman and the Footy Show’s production team “a series of three monthly anti-discrimination training sessions”.
Nine Adelaide affiliate, NWS, was also in breach of the code for broadcasting the same program.
Nine has given ACMA a legally enforceable undertaking that if there are further breaches by Newman in the next two years, the network will be obliged to make a $200,000 donation to anti-discrimination charities. Details of the ruling must also be acknowledged on the Footy Show website within the next two days.
Last year ACMA ruled that The Footy Show had breached the rules in a segment where Newman groped a mannequin dressed in underwear with a female journalist’s photo attached to the face.