The ABC's Amanda Duthie has been removed from her position as head of TV comedy because of the controversy surrounding The Chaser's Make a Realistic Wish sketch. The announcement was made by the Corporation's always reasonable managing director Mark Scott. Report is here. Duthie will continue to be responsible for arts and entertainment programs.
I made a comment at the ABC news site, in my best non-Angry of Mayfair* voice, querying why, given the program's history of offending the permanently sensitive, head of content Courtney Gibson hadn't run the rule over the episode (or for that matter Kim Dalton, but I'm guessing he had his hands full, automating another newsroom or outsourcing ABC editorial to Pagemasters or some such).
...At which point, after bashing out those hastily arranged electrons, I left this post yesterday . Couple of more things that I didn't originally make clear. Given my views on the skit and the complaints about it, the fact someone needs to be found responsible and punished seems vaguely ludicrous. However, changing Duthie's job title is not so much a punishment but a fairly shallow attempt at being seen to do something. I suspect it has less to do with the public outcry and more to do with boardroom pressure. Dicking with Duthie's job title is also a bad move because it sets a precedent.
Last year Duthie and Gibson were interviewed by Greg Callaghan of The Australian for an article entitled The Power of Two. Towards the end of the article Callaghan quoted Gibson:
Does it bother Gibson and Duthie when popular shows such as Kath & Kim – shows that have been carefully nurtured by the ABC – sell out to the commercial networks? Or scare them when rumours fly, as they did last year, about The Chaser meeting Seven Network brass? “We were probably ready to let Kath & Kim go,” Gibson concedes. “I would be very sorry to lose The Chaser, as it would almost certainly mean they would have to make creative compromises to fit in with the rules of a commercial network.”
It seems to fit in with the ABC there are now similar creative compromises to be made. And I'm just foolish enough to think this is not such a good thing.
*although I did end with the line that Gibson, Dalton and Scott seem to have mastered the first and most important rule of management: 'cover your arse'. Will try better next time.