Shaun Brown and Ray Martin to review Q&A

01 July, 2015 by Staff Writer

The independent review of the controversial Q&A program broadcast on June 22 commissioned by the ABC will be undertaken by Ray Martin and former SBS MD Shaun Brown.

The ABC board said Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy "acknowledges the failure of editorial process and judgment around this episode" and has been given a formal warning under misconduct provisions of the ABC's industrial agreement.

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The review will look at the full range of Q&A programs during  the first half of 2015 and take into account the key editorial decisions that impact on the delivery of the program including:

• audience selection;
• panel selection and make-up
• subject selection
• social media strategy, including on-air tweets

Their report will be published later in the year.

The ABC board said today it agrees with ABC management’s statement last week that the decision to allow Zaky Mallah, the former terrorism suspect and convicted  criminal, to appear live on the program was wrong and he should not have been allowed to participate in the studio audience.

"Given his criminal background and past public statements, the live broadcast meant that the ABC was not in a position to manage unpredictable or inappropriate actions or responses," the board said.

"There was inadequate consideration given to important issues around his presence in the studio, considering his previous actions, his desire for the media spotlight and some of his public comments.

"In addition, as the Q&A program indicated on June 29, the vetting of Mallah failed to detect some comments on social media that should have confirmed him as an inappropriate studio guest.

"The issues involved with considering Mallah’s appearance should have been referred up to senior management in the television division under the ABC’s Editorial Policies.

"The executive producer of Q&A acknowledges the failure of editorial process and judgment around this episode. He has received a formal warning under the misconduct provisions of the ABC’s industrial agreement."

The board defended Q&A as an important program which attracts a large, loyal and engaged audience and said it should have a long future on the ABC. Decisions to make any changes to its format and operational practices would be made after careful consideration.

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