Chaser calls ABC exec sacking a 'harsh call'

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The Chaser team has branded a decision by ABC management to relieve an executive of her duties as the network's comedy boss a "harsh call."

Following a review of its editorial processes after the "Make a Realistic Wish" sketch, ABC management yesterday announced it was standing down Amanda Duthie from responsibilities in comedy.

“The segment should not have been broadcast. We recognise that it caused unnecessary and unreasonable hurt and offence to our viewers and the broader community and we have apologised for this," said ABC managing director Mark Scott.

“We have determined this was not a breakdown in our Editorial Policy processes but rather an error of judgement.”

On Monday night, Media Watch identified Duthie as the executive responsible for allowing the sketch to go to air. She told the program that she did not "refer it upward" as is network policy for material deemed controversial or likely to cause offence.

To do so would have brought it to the attention of her senior, ABC Television’s executive head of Content Creation, Courtney Gibson and/or the director of Television, Kim Dalton.

Following the fallout of the controversial sketch, many in the media were asking how the show, and indeed the network, could allow the sketch to pass through so many hands and onto broadcast. Clearly, the ABC needed to do some soul-searching on this one. Duthie told Media Watch she was taking responsibility for it, and as a result will no longer be its Comedy boss. She retains her duties in Arts and Entertainment.

Duthie had also been in charge of comedy during Lawrence Leung's Choose Your Own Adventure, produced by the Chaser team.

The Chaser team, still smarting over the backlash and decision to suspend the show for two weeks, came to her defence in a briefly worded statement.

“20/20 hindsight is easier than 20/20 foresight. We’re sorry we put the sketch forward and we think it’s a harsh call on Amanda who had, and has, our full support," they said.

The comedy will return to screens on June 24, replaced in the interim with Tracey Ullman's State of the Union.

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