Australian comedy skit cleared

October 6, 2013

Australian comedy troupe The Chaser has been cleared by their network, the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), for a bestiality joke aimed at News Corp columnist Chris Kenny, who had called for defunding the ABC.

On September 11, the group mocked Kenny’s criticism of ABC funding by showing a picture of him, on the network, strangling and raping a dog (The Chaser could charitably be called a cross between Jackass and Jon Stewart. They have offered better examples of satire, at the very least).

The ABC received only one complaint the night the sketch was aired, but proceeded to investigate the content after media criticism spurned further complaints.

But on Friday, ABC’s managing director Mark Scott said the skit fell within the ABC’s rules for satirical content, although he admitted it was “tasteless and undergraduate”. Kenny has since announced that his lawyers will continue to pursue the incident.

This entire process has highlighted the (rather obvious) power of media commentators in their role as creators of public discourse and institutional responses; The Chaser has certainly made more offensive and more personal claims about people, but the media’s focus on the skit drew further complaints and caused the ABC to at least examine the skit.

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