Sky News Banned From Public Transport After Blair Cottrell Interview
Extraordinary on-air face-off between minister and Sky hosts.
Sky News Australia will be pulled from screens on Melbourne's public transport network, as the fallout from the network's controversial interview with white nationalist leader Blair Cottrell continues.
It led to an extraordinary live on-air face-off between Victoria's transport minister Jacinta Allan and Sky anchors Laura Jayes and David Speers, where the politician claimed the government received "dozens and dozens" of complaints over the years.
Cottrell, leader of the extremist United Patriots Front group, appeared on Sky on Sunday night during a show hosted by former Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles.
Cottrell admitted to being a "racist" in a 2016 ABC interview, has been convicted of numerous serious offences -- including inciting serious contempt of Muslims after an incident where he and others staged a mock beheading -- and once said pictures of Adolf Hitler should be displayed in Australian classrooms.
Criticism of the interview was so vocal, 'Nazi' became a trending term on Twitter in Australia. Certain politicians planned to boycott further interview requests on Sky, and commentator Craig Emerson quit.
Sky apologised, saying Giles' show would be pulled and Cottrell would never appear on the network again.
On Thursday, Victoria's public transport minister Jacinta Allan said she would tell the state's commuter network to stop showing Sky on screens.
"When it comes to standing on a platform facing a big screen with content being shown, it's got to be content that is appropriate," Allen told media.
Sky News hosts quickly slammed the call, with Laura Jayes and Andrew Bolt calling on the minister to reverse her decision. Sky publicly called for Allen to appear on their network to explain the decision, with Jayes calling it an "extraordinary move." Bolt described the move as political censorship.
Jayes had earlier levelled criticism for Cottrell being allowed on her channel, calling him an arsehole.
Later on Thursday, Allan appeared on Sky in a live interview with Jayes and Speers. She claimed the Cottrell interview had been shown on transport networks, which Sky said were false claims. Speers said Sky broadcast a curated package of news for the transport network, rather than the entire live broadcast being simulcast on train station screens, and that the Cottrell interview was never shown there.
Allan claimed the decision was based on "not just one interview... it's a pretty long list" and cited "views that might incite hatred."
"I can't recall a government in Australia actually banning a media outlet from a service like this. This is a big deal," Speers said.
The government decision comes just weeks after Sky was forced to issue another apology after an interview with Senator David Leyonhjelm, who aired vile sexist claims about Sarah Hanson-Young.
Leyonhjelm quickly criticised Allen's decision on Twitter.
More to come.