This is an article taken from The Canberra Times on the 2nd of November.
Glass House hosts shattered
The stars of the ABC’s satirical chat show, The Glass House, have been left high and dry by the network, which they say has yet to give them a reason for cancelling the hit show. The ABC confirmed yesterday that it had axed the high-rating weekly program in which the three hosts, all stand-up comedians, discuss the political events of the week. It is the first show to go since the announcement of a new $280, 000-a-year “chief censor” position at the ABC to monitor program content for political bias, although comedy programs were to be exepmt from the examinations. Host Will Anderson, formerly a Triple J breakfast presenter, said neither he nor co-hosts Corinne Grant and Dave Hughs had been officially informed by ABC management of the decision not to renew the program. The trio’s manager had passed on the news several weeks ago that the last episode of the program, which has run for more than five years and 200 episodes, would go to air on November 29. The announcement comes just days after Liberal NSW senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells accused Corrine, through a Senate estimates hearing, of a serious conflict of interest, claiming she was the “public face” of the ACTU’s workplace relations campaign. Will said that the team was shocked by the announcement after having its best year yet, both creatively and in terms of ratings. “We won and AFI [Australian Film Institute] Award last year, and we just got nominated again, and we feel like the show has been really firing,” he said, as he juggled commenting on the show’s demise with interviews to promaote his new book, Survival of the Dumbest. Accusations of bias levelled at the program by Senator Fierravanti-Wells and other Liberal Party members missed the point of satire.
“Yes, we are biased against the Government. But the important words there are ‘the Government’, and if they had been the Labor Party, then we would have been biased against them. The nature of a satirical chat show like ours is to attack those in power more than you attack those with no power. What do you think we would have talked about for the last two years if Mark Latham had won the last election?”
Corrine said Senator Fierravanti-Wells’s claim that she was the “face” of an ACTU campaign was highly misleading. While admitting she acted as master of ceremonies at anACTU family day last year, and recorded a radio advertisement to promote the day, Corrine said it was not linked to the Government’s industrial relations legislation. “I’m not spearheading anything and I’m not the face of any campaign,” Corrine said.
All three hosts turned down more lucrative offers to remain with the ABC, and would now examine their options. That may include future offers from networks keen to pick up The Glass House, which consistently captured between 720,000-730,000 viewers in its Wednesday 9.30pm timeslot.
“We were happy to stay where we were because we believed in that show, and the team, and the ABC. But if an offer [from another network] was made, I think we would consider it, because the three of us do enjoy working together, and we’ve worked together really well.”
Dave said he was “gobsmacked and annoyed” by the decision, and had spent the last three weeks hoping the ABC would reconsider. “We haven’t heard a word from the ABC, but through our producer they just said that they wanted to moce on,” Hughs said. “The thing that annoys me is that it takes time to build up chemistry, and it’s really tough when you’ve carved out a home somewhere to then have to move.”
By 6pm yesterday the show’s website had recieved more than 200 hits from viewers complaining about their decision, and threatening to boycott ABC programs in protest. Dave said loyal audiences were starting to see changes in the ABC, led by new managing director Mark Scott. “It seems the ABC is certainly changing what it stands for. I know that we have people who look at the show [to monitor content] and it used to be just during elections that you had a policy where you had to keep content more balanced, but now with this employing of someone on almost $300,000 a year to judge the bias of shows – I can’t fathom why they’re doing that.
We rate very healthily for the ABC and its a cheap show to do, but its hard to say anything against the ABC now in case we never get a gig there again.”
The program’s axing prompted protest from Opposition parties yesterday, with Labor communications spokesman Stephan Conroy saying the emergence of programming censorship was “the inevitable consequence of the Howard Government’s 10-year-long campaign to stack the ABC board with ideological zealots”.
Prime Minister John Howard denied he had instructed the ABC to axe the program, saying it was an internal ABC decision. Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown said the Howard Government had shown it lacked that most Australian of values – “a self-deprecating sense of humor”.
That is rediculous! They can’t do that!!! Its one of my favourite shows and it gets so many ratings for the ABC…