An anonymous Crikey reader sent us a link this morning to an important ACMA ruling filed in December. It concerns an ABC viewer’s complaint about Sesame Street:


(Click on image for full document.)

The complaint, specifically, concerns, ahem, witchcraft:


The offending Muppets? Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Elmo:


The complainant considered Elmo and co’s “witchcraft” to be “totally inappropriate for the target age group” and was unhappy with the ABC’s “invalidation of [their] complaint”:


In the licensee’s submission to ACMA, the ABC contended that they did “not believe Abby’s use of her magic wand in this context was an inappropriate theme for the program”:


The ABC based this decision on the “very mild scenes,” including the fact that “at 10 minutes”, Abby’s spell to “create more hats” backfires and “bats with hats appear on Elmo and Zoe’s heads instead.”

Also, “at 11 minutes, Count von Count, a vampire puppet character, appears to count the hats.”

And, “at 13 minutes, Abby Caddaby calls her mother on her phone to ask for help, saying, “I need a spell.”:


Furthermore, the character of Abby Caddaby, who is described as a “three-year-old muppet fairy in training” is depicted in the program as a fairy, and has fairy-type wings on her back, and carries a pink fairy wand, which she uses to cast spells … The casting of spells in this context is not considered to constitute a depiction of witchcraft … While young children may mimic Abby’s use of a wand, and wear fairy wings, this is not considered to be dangerous behaviour”:


ACMA agreed with the ABC’s ruling and concluded that the themes contained a very “low sense of threat of menace.”