Pacific Media Watch

27 April 2015

AUSTRALIA: SBS sacks sports reporter for critical Anzac Day tweets

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Scott McIntyre's on-air position 'untenable', says SBS chief. Image: SBS

Samuel Stevens
SYDNEY (The Independent/Pacific Media Watch): Australian public broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has dismissed sports reporter Scott McIntyre after he made "disrespectful" comments about Anzac Day on Twitter.

Marking the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War, the day commemorates those who lost their lives in the conflict.

McIntyre greeted the centenary of the Gallipoli landings by criticising what he said was the "cultification [sic] of an imperialist invasion".

However, Michael Ebeid, managing director of SBS, labelled the remarks as 'inappropriate and disrespectful' before adding that they breached the broadcaster’s code of conduct and social media policy.

He added: "It’s not tenable to remain on air if your audience doesn’t respect or trust you.

"SBS supports our Anzacs and has devoted unprecedented resources to coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings."

Free speech
Some media commentators have since criticised the station for dismissing McIntyre, with journalist Hugh Riminton reminding SBS that free speech is a right which was defended during the war.

Also a board member of "Soldier On", an organisation that supports injured soldiers, Riminton nonetheless condemned the comments.

"But lest we forget, our diggers also died for free speech," he added.

The Australian Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, on the other hand, said McIntyre’s freedom of speech was not being infringed.

"We’re talking about political interpretations of history and that is open for debate," he said. "And he will be judged very harshly.

Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull also waded in on the debate, describing the tweets as "despicable".

Having spent the day commemorating the Anzacs at several major events in Sydney, the 60-year-old politician published a strong reply to McIntyre's posts on the social media site.

“Difficult to think of more offensive or inappropriate comments than those by @mcintinhos. Despicable remarks which deserve to be condemned,” Turnbull said.

Be authentic on social media, but just don't offend anyone

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Pacific Media Watch

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