The controversial Sunrise segment.
The controversial Sunrise segment.

Sunrise smacked down over racist segment

SUNRISE has been found to have breached the TV code of practice over a segment on indigenous children.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority investigated the Channel 7 breakfast program over a segment on March 13, in which commentator Prue MacSween said "we need to do (the Stolen Generation) again, perhaps".

The broadcasting watchdog found the segment "provoked serious contempt on the basis of race" and breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

The panel discussed a report saying Children's Minister David Gillespie had proposed white families should be able to adopt indigenous children to save them from rape, assault and neglect.

Mr Gillespie later said he did not use the phrase "white families".

Sunrise host Samantha Armytage introduced the segment by saying: "Post-Stolen Generation, there's been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families."

She wrongly claimed indigenous children could not be fostered by white families.

Panellist Prue MacSween said during the segment that removing the kids was a "no-brainer" and that there was a "conspiracy of silence and fabricated PC outlook that it's better to leave them in this dangerous environment".

MacSween, who was previously criticised for saying Yassmin Abdel-Magied should be run over, added: "Don't worry about the people who decry and hand-wring and say this will be another Stolen Generation.

"Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again, perhaps."

After the segment aired, NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge was one of those to lodge a formal complaint with ACMA, claiming MacSween had made "a highly offensive, racist and divisive statement", and there was no attempt by Armytage to condemn or rebuke it.

The segment sparked outrage on social media and led to protests at Channel 7's studios in Martin Place and during an episode of Sunrise filmed on a Gold Coast beach during the Commonwealth Games.


Aboriginal protests at Kurrawa Beach. Pics Adam Head
Aboriginal protests at Kurrawa Beach. Pics Adam Head

ACMA announced at the end of March that it was investigating the Sunrise segment and it handed down its findings earlier today that it breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

"The ACMA found that the introduction to the segment claiming indigenous children could 'only be placed with relatives or other indigenous families,' was inaccurate and in breach of the code," a statement released by the watchdog said.

"The licensee explained that this repeated a statement from a newspaper of the day. However, the ACMA considered that Seven should have taken steps to verify the accuracy of this claim before it was used as the foundation for a panel discussion.

"The ACMA investigation also found that the segment provoked serious contempt on the basis of race in breach of the code as it contained strong negative generalisations about indigenous people as a group.

These included sweeping references to a 'generation' of young indigenous children being abused.

While it may not have been Seven's intention, by implication the segment conveyed that children left in indigenous families would be abused and neglected, in contrast to non-indigenous families where they would be protected."

According to Fairfax, Channel 7 is planning to dispute ACMA's findings in court.


Sam Armytage and the crew of 7's Breakfast show Sunrise in Queensland.
Sam Armytage and the crew of 7's Breakfast show Sunrise in Queensland.