Sky News to remain in Qantas lounges as Leyonhjelm outrage continues

Qantas has signalled it plans to resist calls to remove Sky News from its lounges despite continuing controversy over Sunday morning show Outsiders.

Since the weekend, more than 6,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Qantas to stop showing the channel in its lounges.

The petition, aimed at Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, was launched yesterday by former News Corp journalist Shannon Molloy. It followed Sky News guest Senator David Leyonhjelm repeating a slur he made against fellow parliamentarian Sarah Hanson-Young last week.

The remark was also repeated in an onscreen caption.

Sky News is owned by News Corp. Yesterday afternoon it apologised for broadcasting the remarks and suspended a producer, who is reportedly a young woman.

While the channel carries what is generally seen as balanced news coverage on weekdays, its evening and weekend programming is given over to mostly right-leaning commentary, with Outsiders among the most outspoken.

Molloy, who left News Corp for a content role with Amazon Alexa late last year, launched the petition after apparently spotting the attack while in a Qantas lounge.

When Mumbrella asked Qantas a number of questions about the channel, the airline avoided answering them directly, simply saying “We note that Sky has apologised and is investigating”, followed shortly by another response saying: “There’s no change to our arrangement with Sky.”

Mumbrella had asked Qantas if the airline obligated to carry Sky News in the lounges as part of its 2014 inflight entertainment deal. Outsiders is not one of the programs shown on Qantas’ inflight channels.

Although both Fairfax and News Corp newspapers are available in Qantas Club and business lounges, Qantas only makes News Corp titles available as passengers get onto the plane, after a falling out with Fairfax in 2014.

The questions Mumbrella asked Qantas were:

  • Is Qantas prepared to review its broadcasting of Sky News in its business lounges?
  • Has Qantas had previous complaints about Sky News being broadcast in the lounge?
  • The petition currently has 4,000 signatories. Will Qantas be taking it seriously?
  • Does Qantas feel Sky News’ weekend and evening programming is consistent with the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion?
  • Is Qantas obligated to carry Sky News in the lounges as part of its 2014 inflight entertainment deal?
  • Does Qantas pay Sky News for the right to broadcast into the lounges?

The airline’s terse response is below;

Sky News declined to comment on the relationship.

Outsiders was previously suspended by Sky News after a series of controversies including then co-host Mark Latham verbally attacking ABC broadcaster Wendy Harmer and fellow Sky News presenters Kristina Kenneally and Peter van Onselen.

Peter Van Onselen was one of the media figures leading the criticism of Sky News, pointing out a junior producer had been held liable for the scandal rather than the hosts and the station’s senior management.

Others were equally scathing of Qantas with Fairfax columnist, John Birmingham calling out the airline for showing the channel in its lounges.

In response to Birmingham’s tweet, former Federal minister Cheryl Kernot and exiled broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, herself a favourite target of vitriol from Sky News hosts, told of their experiences in the Qantas lounge.

This afternoon top Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called on Leyonhjelm to apologise to Hanson-Young for his comments.


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