SBS has rejected reports that it was looking at including convicted criminal, Zaky Mallah in a story on its youth news and current affairs program, The Feed.
The multicultural broadcaster’s managing director Michael Ebeid was clearly angry when he took to Twitter to call a story in The Australian about the proposed show as “complete rubbish”.
I want to state that the story in the Oz today about SBS giving Mallah his own show is COMPLETE RUBBISH and we told John Lyons that.
— Michael Ebeid (@michaelebeid) August 14, 2015
He accused John Lyons journalist of twisting his quotes in a beatup, saying “So disappointing that John Lyons twisted my quotes in his rubbish story today. I never said SBS was considering giving Mallah his own show.”
The proposal was pitched by a freelance journalist to SBS, but the station says no filming had been booked and it had not progressed past an idea.
SBS also released a statement saying, “The idea that Zaky Mallah is being given his own show is completely incorrect.”
“SBS had confirmed to the journalist that this was not true, yet he decided to run with an incorrect headline.”
The Australian claimed that filming was due to begin as early as next Wednesday.
According to The Australian, the show would follow Mallah and co-star Kim Vuga, who was previously in SBS’s documentary Go Back to Where You Came From, as the duo visited a mosque, Mallah’s parents’ house and even to a Sydney courthouse where a female genital mutilation trial is due to be held.
“Given what happened at the ABC and the number of investigations going on, I was surprised SBS would even consider a show with Zaky Mallah,” Kim Vuga told The Australian. She said she would not be part of the show.
“I don’t think the Australian public wants to see Zaky Mallah given any platform,” she said.
Earlier this year, Mallah — who was convicted of threatening to kill ASIO officials in 2005 — came under fire after he was allowed to ask a question on ABC’s Q&A program.
His presence on live television sparked a fracas with prime minister Tony Abbott , who said “heads should roll” after the ABC aired Mallah’s comments again in a repeat a few days later.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says that he is “confident” the proposal will not go ahead adding that it had “not gone through the proper editorial processes” of SBS.
“Any suggestion there was ever any proposal for this convicted criminal and terrorist sympathiser to have his own show is completely wrong,” he told Sky News.
Earlier this year, filmmakers behind SBS’s Struggle Street sued Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali for defamation after he accused them of unethical behaviour, falsifying footage and helping participants buy drugs.
Calls for the three-part series following the lives of people in the western Sydney suburb of Mt Druitt to be culled came after it was described as “publicly funded poverty porn”.
It set a ratings record for an SBS documentary, with 1.31 million viewers.
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