Australia’s Channel 7 seeks judicial review of ‘racism’ ruling

October 9, 2012

Paul Raffaele said a Suruwaha girl refused to shake his hand because she wanted to kill him. In fact, he was wearing so much sun cream the Suruwaha thought he had a skin disease. © Channel 7

This page was created in 2012 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Australia’s Channel 7 goes to court tomorrow (11 October) seeking judicial review of a devastating ruling against it by the press regulator ACMA.

ACMA found that the Channel broke the ‘racism clause’ of the broadcasting code by screening a report about a Brazilian tribe so extreme it was labeled ‘Freakshow TV’ by Survival International.

The report labelled Brazil’s Suruwaha Indians child murderers; ‘Stone Age’ relics; and ‘one of the worst human rights violators in the world’.

Survival complained to Australia’s regulator ACMA Channel 7 refused Survival’s request to issue a correction to its report, broadcast on its Sunday Night program.

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Astonishingly, Channel 7 is not seeking to overturn the substance of the ruling. Rather, it wants the court to declare that the various statements in the report, such as ‘These lost tribes encourage the murder of disabled children’, were not ‘factual’ in nature.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Channel 7 is asking the Australian court to reject the regulator’s findings by declaring that its viewers were not likely to have believed its ‘news report’ in the first place! Whether or not there is anything wrong with knowingly broadcasting its sordid inventions as ‘news’, its denigration of the Suruwaha is beyond a joke and should not be allowed to stand.’

The report portrays the Suruwaha as the 'worst human rights violators in the world'. © Adriana Azevedo/Survival

Note to Editors:

Survival has written a set of ethical guidelines to help filmmakers work responsibly with tribal peoples. It is also using its Stamp it Out campaign to challenge racist depictions, however unwitting, in the media.