Andrew Denton, host of Enough Rope, responds to Stephen Feneley’s item in yesterday’s Crikey:


Let’s get some facts on the record:

1) Enough Rope
is not an “outsourced entertainment program.” It is an ABC
co-production, commissioned by the ABC and answerable to ABC
management, through the Head of Television. We are very proudly part of
the ABC line-up.

2) Following that line of command, we requested of Sue Lester (not Russell Balding), ­the Acting Head Of Television, ­that Enough Rope’s Latham interview be moved forward. I stress again, not because of Lateline,
but because Latham had broken our guarantee of exclusivity and we saw
that, to wait another four days to broadcast, amounted to professional
stupidity.

3) Enough Rope did not lobby to “usurp” Lateline, nor did it replace it.

The widely advertised broadcast time for Enough Rope
last Thursday was 8.30. It was the News Limited injunction (which
wasn’t lifted until 10.10) that pushed us back to 10.20, ­ a situation
that didn’t suit us any more than it suited Lateline. There was never any instruction from ABC management for Lateline
not to broadcast. They could have gone to air at 11.15 (which they have
done previously on three occasions this year). The decision not to go
to air was theirs alone. The “independence” of Lateline was never sacrificed.

Perhaps
what Stephen Feneley is really objecting to is a “lightweight
entertainment show” usurping “serious” news and current affairs. I
don’t feel it necessary to defend the obvious newsworthiness of our
Latham interview. But I do take exception to the underlying
intellectual snobbery that suggests only insiders are equipped to
interview other insiders.

If 7.30 Report or Australian Story do a piece on an actor or a musician, that’s OK because it’s “news and current affairs.” But if Enough Rope
interviews a politician, that’s unacceptable because everyone knows
only one class of people is allowed to have access to the decision
makers.

Each of the three years Enough Rope has been on
air, our audience has increased – this year, to an average of one
million viewers every Monday night. I think that’s because there’s a
hunger out there for a different conversation on TV. Not to replace the
traditional adversarial style of interviewing (let’s face it, pollies
will always need grilling), but to sit alongside it: a space where
people can talk, and be heard ­ and be challenged – without necessarily
having to win or lose the conversation.

Enough Rope
created that space where it didn’t exist before. We are intensely proud
that it is on the ABC and that it sits on Monday night amongst such
august company as 7.30 Report, 4 Corners, Australian Story, Media Watch and Lateline.

What’s more, if the ABC wants us to, we intend to be back next year going harder than ever.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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