The Courier-Mail

HALF-ASKED RESPONSE ABC boss sends sorry message to Abbott by text

- RENEE VIELLARIS

TONY Abbott left Mark Scott hanging yesterday after the ABC boss sent an apology by text message for an insult that ran on the “out-of-control” Q&A program.

Mr Scott (pictured) is on a collision course with the Prime Minister over his repeated, tardy mea culpas for the mistakes made by Q&A.

On Monday night, the twitter handle @AbbottLove­sAnal was broadcast.

Communicat­ions Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a rocket to Mr Scott, demanding Mr Abbott receive an apology.

The apology came via text and Mr Abbott responded by ignoring Mr Scott’s text and publicly telling him to do a better job.

Mr Abbott said he did not have time to respond to Mr Scott, who will reportedly also send an apology through the mail.

“I haven’t had a chance to respond to the text message that I had because it’s been a very, very busy morning,” Mr Abbott said.

“I just hope that the ABC management get on and do what they said they were going to do with that program.

“I think it is a bit out of control and I think it’s important for the ABC not just to talk about tighter management structures, tighter management control on that particular program, but actually do it.’’

Mr Turnbull was clearly annoyed yesterday. “In what felt like a Groundhog Day moment yet again in the early hours of Tuesday I spoke with Mark Scott about another unedifying incident at Q&A,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The tweet should obviously never have been put on the screen and the fact that it was underlines the need for better supervisio­n of the program.

“I am assured by Mr Scott the offensive tweet will not appear in the replays of the pro- gram. The ABC should apologise to the Prime Minister and its viewers.”

An ABC spokesman said Q&A handled a high volume of tweets during its live broadcasts.

“Last night’s program contained a vibrant discussion on a range of topics and featured some lively Twitter exchanges,” he said.

“This particular tweet was not published on purpose and the ABC regrets any offence this may have caused.”

The ABC has an internal review into how Q&A uses its live tweets. Television personalit­y Ray Martin is heading the probe and it is expected to be completed within weeks.

Meanwhile, Slater and Gordon defamation lawyer Jeremy Zimet warned of the dangers of Twitter.

“In that particular instance (@AbbottLove­sAnal), I think the particular Twitter handle was more abusive or vulgar, as opposed to defamatory or likely to be able to be read as defaming,” he said.

“However, it is a possibilit­y for those types of re-publishers, such as the ABC, to be found liable in relation to those publicatio­ns,” Mr Zimet said.

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