Ita Buttrose offers half-hearted apology over ABC coronation coverage

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ABC chair Ita Buttrose has written to the Australian Monarchist League apologising to those who were disappointed by the national broadcaster’s coverage of King Charles III’s coronation in May.

The ABC faced widespread backlash over the coverage that featured a 45-minute segment, focusing on how the monarchy has impacted Indigenous Australians since colonisation.

Ita Buttrose responded to a letter of complaint sent to the Australian Monarchist League.Credit: The Age/SMH

The segment featuring Stan Grant, Indigenous writer Teela Reid and Australian Republican movement chair Craig Foster plus Liberal MP and monarchist Julian Leeser was part of eight hours of coverage on the May 6 coronation led by Julia Baird and Jeremy Fernandez.

The league had previously made several demands of the ABC and Buttrose following the coronation coverage calling for an independent inquiry into the coverage and for the staff members involved in the segment and decision to include it be disciplined.

Following the coverage, the Australian Monarchist League (AML) launched a petition calling for the ABC’s board to “apologise for its biased coverage of the coronation of King Charles III”.

In a letter seen by this masthead, Buttrose stopped short of an outright apology, but the chair acknowledged the petition and concerns raised.

“I do acknowledge that there are members of our audience who had sought to watch the ABC to view and focus on the live feed of the arrivals and were subsequently disappointed,” Buttrose wrote.

“That appears to be the view of your organisation and those who are signatories to your petition. I am sorry they were disappointed with our coverage.

AML campaign chair Eric Abetz said at the time, “Knowing there would be a huge audience for the coronation it appears the occasion was deliberately used to pursue an agenda to denigrate the constitutional monarchy which has served Australia so exceptionally well for well over a century”.

The ABC faced complaints from other monarchist groups and negative commentary from News Corp outlets following the coverage. But the ABC Ombudsman found the broadcast did not breach editorial guidelines.

Grant, a 59-year-old Wiradjuri man from the Griffith region in NSW and a triple Walkley Award winner, resigned from the ABC and took an indefinite break from journalism in May citing exhaustion racist abuse, abuse which escalated following the coronation coverage.

“Racism is a crime. Racism is violence. And I have had enough,” Grant wrote in an ABC opinion piece explaining his departure.

“On social media my family and I are regularly racially mocked or abused.

“This is not new. Barely a week goes by when I am not racially targeted. My wife is targeted with abuse for being married to a Wiradjuri man.

“I don’t even read it, yet I can’t escape it. People stop me in the street to tell me how vile it is. They tell me how sorry they are. Although I try to shield myself from it, the fact it is out there poisons the air I breathe.”

Buttrose has been contacted for comment. The ABC declined to comment.

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