The fallout continues for Sky News Australia following its weekend interview with far-right nationalist and convicted criminal Blair Cottrell.
The 24-hour news channel was yesterday banned from television screens at Melbourne railway stations, with Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allen saying “hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community”.
Sky News has already lost American Express’s Australian division as an advertiser and, reportedly, nappy brand Huggies and optical supplier Specsavers since the controversial interview.
American Express has made the decision to suspend advertising from Sky News, as recent content on the channel does not reflect our brand values.
— Amex Australia (@AmexAU) August 7, 2018
The network has admitted it was wrong to air the interview with Cottrell after a heavy backlash from viewers.
The former United Patriots Front leader was invited in for a studio interview about winding back immigration and protecting countries against “foreign ideologies”.
Cottrell, a confessed steroid user, has been convicted of inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims, and of arson, stalking and burglary. He has served jail time.
Within hours of the interview going to air and being shared on various Sky News social media platforms, the channel removed it from its repeat timeslots and online platforms.
Ms Allan announced the ban on social media on Thursday morning.
“I’ve directed Metro Trains to remove Sky News Australia from all CBD station screens,” she said on Twitter.
Earlier, she had told Melbourne radio station 3AW that she had had concerns about the network for some time, and the interview with Cottrell was the final straw.
“That interview was unacceptable. Indeed, Sky News themselves have admitted they got it wrong,” she said.
“I think I’ve got a responsibility as the Public Transport Minister to ensure that passengers aren’t bombarded with what’s really shocking content and messages.”
Sky News is played on large screens on several Melbourne railway station platforms. But the network says The Adam Giles Show, which aired the weekend interview, has never screened in the stations.
Victoria's Public Transport Minister @JacintaAllanMP on false claims the Blair Cottrell interview was screened across Melbourne's rail network: I have different advice.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) August 9, 2018
Nonetheless, Ms Allen stuck to her guns during a later interview on Sky News with Laura Jayes. She said she intended to discuss replacement content with station operator Metro Trains.
Ms Allan denied the ban was censorship.
“If people choose to access that content at home, travelling in their own private time they can absolutely do that,” she said.
“But as the Public Transport Minister when it’s a public asset that is being used to promote or televise particular content, I think I’ve got a responsibility to make sure that content’s appropriate.”