The following recent case study may provide encouragement for AD2000 readers contemplating complaining about offensive media presentations.
Following the ABC screening on 6 June of BackBerner, which contained a highly offensive satirical sketch called "Haven't Got a Cluedo" that ridiculed various Catholic sacred symbols - including an implication that a crucifix was used in pedophile activity - I wrote on 7 June to Senator Richard Alston, the responsible Federal Government Minister. My letter concluded: "What adds to the offence is that my taxes and those of other practising Catholics, via the funding to the ABC, are being used to attack our beliefs."
The ABC Code of Practice (2.4), in referring to "Discrimination", states that any "presentation or portrayal of people ... likely to encourage denigration of or discrimination against any ... section of the community on account of ... any religious ... belief" should be avoided.
I subsequently received a reply dated 11 July from the Minister's office which, inter alia, stated: "I have sought advice from the ABC about the specific issues which you raise. The ABC regrets that you were offended by the episode of BackBerner broadcast on 6 June 2002. The ABC advises that, as with many comedy programs, BackBerner presents makers with the difficult challenge of balancing taste, appropriateness and humour. While the ABC tries to make sure that the correct balance is struck, it is clear that you felt it was wrong on this occasion and the ABC apologises for any offence caused.
"The ABC appreciates you taking the time to write about your concerns. Your comments have been brought to the attention of the BackBerner production team."
MICHAEL E. DANIEL