From the 2019-20 ABC annual report:
Children and young people– Principles: The ABC aims to provide children and young people (under the age of 18) with enjoyable and enriching content, as well as opportunities for them to express themselves. (p184-5).
In a bombshell report on Friday, the federal government’s Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) cleared ABCTV of broadcasting pornography to 15-year-old schoolchildren. The alleged porn was in the ABC’s nine-part At Home Alone Together “comedy” series that started last May 13 and ran on Wednesdays at 9pm.
The ABC’s own quasi-independent complaints panel last November 4 cleared ABCTV by dismissing a complaint on a technicality while ignoring the substance of the complaint.
The complainant (myself) then appealed to ACMA, which ignored technicalities and did deal with the substance of what any normal viewer would regard as the pornographic content. ACMA, however, considers that the (alleged) pornography complained of, does not even warrant the ABC’s maximum MA15+ classification warning, and that the ABC’s self-classification of At Home Alone as “M” was correct and adequate. “M” is “Mature” and of moderate impact. “MA 15+” is strong impact. The ABC’s two full-time and two part-time content raters gave only Episode 7 of At Home Alone an MA15+ rating; the rest got “M”s. 
ACMA has invited me, if dissatisfied, to kick my complaint further upstairs to the Federal Ombudsman, which I did at the weekend. My previous analyses of the ABCTV material are published here and here.
I now need to describe the ABC’s filth for teens once again. Then I’ll document the ABC’s refusal to consider the complaint, and next you can read chapter and verse of ACMA’s bizarre defence of its ABC acquaintances last Friday. Finally, I discuss official moves to reform the anomaly of ABCTV rating its own programs.
Incidentally ACMA has threatened:
NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited.
I assume my disclosures are authorized by ACMA in the interests of governmental transparency and accountability. If not, I’ll have to hole up for half a decade in Canberra’s Ecuadorian Embassy in the style of the ABC’s perpetual hero-of-disclosure Julian Assange. I might well earn not just Walkley Awards for journos but a Sydney Peace Prize Gold Medal.
The ABC had blurbed that At Home Alone collected “Australia’s best comedians and revered actors to give audiences advice on how they can live their best life in the time of COVID-19.” At Home had 13 directors, 11 producers and nearly 50 writers. What audiences actually get from this talent bank is obsession with big (even giant) penises, and many illustrated and animated varieties of intercourse, including a man raping a dog (left). Teen viewers are deluged with coprophilia, homosexual and heterosexual fellatio, cunnilingus and women as sex objects and/or nymphomaniacs.
For example, a graphic about “triple penetration” [Episode 4, from 12.50 minutes in] shows a stylised naked woman crouched on all fours, straddling a naked man who reaches up to grasp her torso. The prone man is penetrating her vaginally. Behind the crouching woman, another naked man kneels, penetrating her anally while grasping her hips. The “triple” element involves a standing man grasping her head to push her mouth onto his penis. The ABC production team has enlivened the graphic with animation to show the rear and front thrustings.
In brief, to save readers suspense, ACMA finds that
while we acknowledge the lack of ambiguity surrounding the activity depicted, we note the rudimentary animation style employed, the lack of visual detail, the absence of real people, and the relative brevity of the depictions. We noted that warnings of sexual references and coarse language were provided and considered that any potential offence was likely to be justified by the editorial context of a satirical program about life during the coronavirus lockdown.
The ABC officially recommends the episodes – all currently available on iView — to 15-year-olds and upwards. Ninety-eight per cent of children aged 15 are at school. Even at Year 12, 89 per cent of girls and 80 per cent of boys in 2018 were at school. The ABC’s “M” rating guide includes that
the less explicit or less intense material will be included in the M classification and the more explicit or more intense material, especially violent material, will be included in the MA15+ classification. Most themes [for “M”] can be dealt with, but the treatment should be discreet and the impact should not be strong… Generally, coarse language that is stronger, detailed or very aggressive should be infrequent, and not be gratuitous.
The commercial channels would run a mile from broadcasting filth, not just from moral scruples but because filth would be poison to advertisers. Case in point: in 1992 Channel 9 ran a show, Australia’s naughtiest home videos. It included a man with his head wedged between a dancer’s breasts, animal genitalia and animal sex, a man lifting a barbell with his penis and footage of a couple having outdoor sex. The network’s owner, Kerry Packer, was watching the show at home. He lifted the phone and ordered: “Get that shit off the air!” The production team hastily complied, lying to viewers about “a technical problem”. They filled in the rest of the hour with a repeat of a serial. In contrast, ABC chair Ita Buttrose and her executives, far from phoning in to say, “Get that Home Alone shit off the air!” cited it as “morale-boosting” in the ABC’s 2019-20 annual report:
Other morale-boosting new programs included At Home Alone Together, a comedic take on the lifestyle magazine genre that went from concept to screen in just six weeks.
I initially thought ABCTV’s sex graphics, including the animated triple penetration, were the work of ABC content creators. For example, end-credits acknowledge the work of two “Motion Graphics” specialists. However, a colleague has drawn my attention to Redtube, said to be the world’s most-visited porn-sharing site, where sex ads occasionally feature the very same animated graphics. Possibilities include
# ABC content creators took the graphics from Redtube (most likely)
# Redtube took the graphics from ABCTV (least likely) or
# Both Redtube and ABCTV took the graphics from a third party (possible).
If adventurous readers can discover the origin of the graphics, please let me know.
As I described last October, the tone of At Home Alone is set from three minutes into Episode 1 by a Harry Potter send-up. Actress Becky Lucas in role says,
Maybe it’s another wizard girl from another house and she wants to suck your dick or lick my … I would love to give Dobbie a little gobbie…I would love to be moaning like Myrtle.
In Episode 2 in a woman’s erotic fiction fantasy a male character opens his pants to expose his large penis, and the female says, “All right let’s have a look. My, my we have been working out! You can’t beat the real thing, welcome to cougar town.” Then she kneels to fellate him. (11.00)
In Episode 9, a couple move into a “tiny house” and the male explains, “We want a house that best suits our very busy, very heterosexual lifestyle.” It appears some ABC people need to clarify that they are heterosexual. The tiny-house couple are soon squabbling over their cramped space, and the male says, “Maybe if we moved into your vagina we would have a bit more room.” 
George Orwell said that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. All the episodes of Home Alone are filth, but some are filthier than others, like Episode 4’s “Important Message for Footballers”. A woman in voice-over says Home Alone has “introduced a bonk ban to keep [AFL] players safe. A cup of tea is fine, vaginal contact is out.” (A full-screen graphic shows two simplified human having sex in missionary position. In all instances the figures’ intercourse is animated.) “Discussing literature is all good, vigorous rogering is bad.” (The animated man enters a woman from behind while she leans against a table.) “A sunset stroll is fine, triple penetration is bad.” (I’ve already described that one). “So does that mean I can’t behave like a footballer any more?” “No, urinating in public is still fine (man urinates against a lamp post) but sex is out (woman rides man in reverse cowgirl position). Taking a dump in a hotel is fine (man defecates in a hotel corridor). Just don’t have sex while you take the dump. (Man defecates while entering a woman from behind). Simulating sex with a dog (a standing man holds a dog waist-high), that was never really fine.” “But can I still bonk if my penis is 2 metres long and I socially distance throughout the bonk?” (Man with 2m penis enters a clothed woman apparently without underwear from behind while she leans against the foot of a bed. The giant penis is pixelated in unusual ABC concern for possibly innocent 15-year-old schoolchildren and adults of a mental age greater than 13). The voiceover comments on the monster penis, “While we are all extremely impressed, no, that is not allowed.”
It’s a challenge to allocate responsibility for Episode 4, rather like allocating responsibility for hiring Victoria’s private quarantine guards. That particular episode lists two executive producers, one series producer, five producer/directors, and one contributing director, plus a “Screen Australia production executive”. It is striking that Episode 4 had its own ABC “Editorial Policy Adviser”, one Simon Melkman.
Keep in mind that the ABC actually announces that Episode 4 is “Recommended for people 15 years and over.” The sex-with-a-dog graphic calls to mind the earlier 2013 ABC incident with Chaser Boys mocking The Australian’s ABC critic, journalist Chris Kenny, by pasting his facial features on a man with his pants down mounting a labradoodle. A label said: “Chris ‘Dog Fucker’ Kenny”. Kenny sued the ABC which dug in for nearly a year but finally reversed course and gave him cash and apologies.
Episode 8 of At Home Alone features a “glory hole” in public toilets which allows one man to fellate another anonymously through an aperture hole in a wall. I didn’t know about “glory holes” until 2016, when I was checking some green-gay performance art – see “Sex Pistils at the Oz Council Bathhouse”. The ABC “joke” substitutes handshakes through a larger wall-hole, in lieu of fellatio. The “comedy” writers — more than 50 0f them — also do a mock Four Corners exposing “the shady corporate underbelly” of frustrated business men unable to shake hands. Instead they visit the hole at a “disgusting public toilet” or “shake spot”. The hole is also large enough for banknote payments to be first passed through. Dialogue: “It’s 50 bucks for a handshake, or 70 for a nice firm one.” “What about a wet one?”
Next, “depraved members of amateur sporting teams” – the ABC seems to have special animus against footballers – line up at multiple holes for “consecutive shakes”.
ABCTV grossness has no lower limit. Senior producers of the At Home series include several of the team that made the low-rated and mercifully dumped Tonightly show. In one Tonightly episode in March 2018, comedian/presenter Greg Larsen called Australian Conservative candidate Kevin Bailey “a c**t”. In the four-minute Tonightly rant, which was pre-approved by ABC executives for broadcast, there were eight “c***s” and two “f***s”. Everywhere else, mind you, the ABC professes feminist credentials.
You’re probably wondering why Episode 7 of Home Alone got the sole “MA15+” rating. It’s actually not the worst for crassness. It has a character “Mary Seymour” bragging about her “multiple lovers”, and she thanks one elderly lover for “bringing me to arousal in the shower this morning”. She tries to get a romance going for a very old lady [19.30] by giving her conversation cards reading, “What is your favorite blow-job technique?”, “Who gave you your first orgasm?” and “Are you good in bed?”
Episode 5 is particularly gross, notwithstanding its mild “M” rating. “Mary Seymour”says: “People think things start slowing down in the bedroom but I have never been more sexually active. I love penises of all shapes and sizes [illustrated with half a dozen eclairs: she licks cream from one of them].”
Young man to Mary: I love to curl up in your arms and read a book
Mary: Well I like to see your dick and while working towards arousal get my big breasts out. Maybe I should get into my maid’s uniform
Older man: F**k yeah.
It’s a rare episode of Home Alone that doesn’t have half a dozen big-dick references. In Episode 4, for example, bogan Nate says, “Stealing is fine — morals are only for rich people. Well that was a success. I nearly got pinched for the salami [pulls a huge salami out of pants] but I just told them that I had a really big dong.” He wobbles the foot-long salami like an erect penis. A placard says, “Nate says: Pretend salami is your dick.”
In Episode 5, TV gardener Costa Georgiadis is naked but with pixelated privates. He prunes his pubic hair with a brush-cutter. The sketch cuts to series presenter Ray Martin — a longtime ABC darling — fingering Christmas decorations and saying, “Nice balls.” In another skit, Martin pretends to audition as another character, saying, “Hey, I’m Jason, you wanna see my (bleep) dick?”
Episode 6 could be sub-titled ‘Defecation City’. At 2.50 minutes in we get a “parenting tip” from an actor sitting on the toilet: “Doing a poo is a great way to talk shit online.” Six minutes later, and actress Becky Lucas in character is discussing with her beau why a fly landed on her. “What are flies attracted to?” and they both reply, “Like shit, turd, poop, poo.” Beau says, “Maybe I have equated you with that in my head now. You are shit, so I’m moving on.” An adult sister says to her adult brother, “You make me feel like I want to take a shit on your head.” Their emotion chart reads “Pooping, Horny, Anger, Sadness.” Episode 8 ends with a placard, “F**k that’s yum as sh*t.”
HERE’S the resume of how the ABC’s notionally “Independent” Complaints Review Panel dealt with my first complaint last October. The ABC says complaints can be referred to the panel only if they were originally lodged within six weeks of the date of broadcast. This is a mere technicality, apparently based on the fact that the ABC deletes unimportant recordings after six weeks. I received the following reply from the panel on November 4:
Audience and Consumer Affairs will generally not accept for investigation complaints lodged more than six weeks after an item was broadcast or published. As you have not indicated that any special circumstances apply in this instance, we decline to investigate your complaint.
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs
In fact my complaint did note special circumstances: “My complaint is probably past six weeks of the screenings but I have accessed the programs – as many 15-year-old’s would, through iView. I trust the six week test will not be used to invalidate my complaint.”
My appeal to ACMA was a rare event. In 2018-19, ACMA handled only seven classification complaints about all television broadcasting. Here’s what I got on Friday (January 22) from ACMA:
From: Broadcasting <Broadcasting@acma.gov.au>
Date: 22 January 2021 at 09:53:56 AEDT
Thank you for your recent correspondence to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA), in which you raise issues about compliance with the harm and offence provisions of the ABC Code of Practice 2019 (the Code). We thank you for raising this matter with us.
We appreciate your patience while we gave due consideration to the issues raised in your complaint.
We understand you were concerned that seven of the At Home Alone Together episodes included sexual references and depictions that exceeded the program’s classification. In particular you were concerned that this would endanger the welfare of schoolchildren aged 15 years and over.
We have carefully assessed your complaint, including reviewing copies of the broadcasts and considered the relevant provisions from the Code. Extracts from the harm and offence provisions of the Code are at the end of this email for your information.
The relevant broadcasts were classified M, with consumer advice that variously included ‘adult themes’, ‘sexual references’ and ‘coarse language’.
The ABC’s Associated Standard on Television Program Classification states that, at the M level, most themes can be dealt with, but the treatment should be discreet and the impact should not be strong, sexual activity may be discreetly implied, and coarse language may be used.
The content of concern largely consisted of verbal sexual references and innuendo. We also carefully assessed the ‘bonk ban’ sketch that you described in detail from episode four and noted it was a series of animated graphics of sexual acts undertaken by stick figures (akin to the pictograms typically used on toilet doors to denote figures of different sex). It did not contain any nudity or implied, simulated or actual sexual acts by real people. [Describing the animated persons engaged in sex acts as “stick figures” is sheer sophistry, as a glance at our illustration confirms].
In program classification, verbal sexual references are generally considered to be less impactful than visual depictions. Graphical or animated representations would also have correspondingly less impact than depictions of real people performing or simulating sexual acts. [More sophistry. Check out the pornographic cartoon industry or Japanese “manga” comics].
Impact, and therefore classification, is also influenced by the amount of visual detail.
In summary, we have conducted a detailed assessment of your complaint. While we appreciate that the matter was of concern to you, and taking the above matters into account, including the program context, we consider that, while the ‘bonk ban’ sketch was more impactful than other material you had cited in your complaint, the material we reviewed was unlikely to exceed the M classification. Consequently, it is unlikely to constitute a breach of the ABC’s Code and as a result, we will not be taking further action.
Your complaint has been logged in our database to help identify potential recurring or systemic issues with legislation, codes of practice and standards…
Thank you again for raising this matter.
Content Investigations Section
At the bottom of the reply there was this:
Relevant Code extracts: Standard 7.1 of the Code states that content that is likely to cause harm or offence must be justified by the editorial context.
Standard 7.2 of the Code states: ‘Where content is likely to cause harm or offence, having regard to the context, make reasonable efforts to provide information about the nature if the content through the use of classification labels or other warnings or advice’.
Standard 7.3 of the Code requires the ABC to ensure all domestic television programs – with the exception of news, current affairs and sporting events – are classified and scheduled for broadcast in accordance with the ABC’s Associated Standard on Television Program Classification.
The whole issue of classification is sensitive at the highest level of federal politics. ABC and SBS alone have the privilege to rate their own TV shows. Other TV broadcasters’ material is subject to external and official ratings supervision. In 2018 the ACCC urged an inquiry dealing with “a nationally uniform classification scheme to classify or restrict access to content consistently across different delivery formats”. This led early last year to a departmental inquiry and report run by ex-bureaucrat Neville Stephens AO that is still under wraps.
Communications and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher is soon to decide on the classification issues, which got no mention in his Green Paper on television last November. The ABC submitted strongly that any interference with its self-rating would compromise its independence and value to Australian as a cultural standard-bearer. Indeed, such a move would have “a chilling effect”. It submitted:
The [ABC] Corporation maintains a rigorous Editorial Policies framework to ensure that high standards are met and the ABC is accountable to audiences through the co-regulatory regime with the ACMA. The ABC Editorial Policies state that the Corporation’s broadcast and publication of comprehensive and innovative content requires a willingness to take risks, invent and experiment with new ideas, while taking care not to gratuitously cause harm or offence.
The submission also includes:
The Corporation recognises that it has a privileged place in the media landscape, with access to spectrum and public funding. It is required, among other things, to broadcast programs that contribute to a sense of national identity, inform and entertain, while reflecting the cultural diversity of the Australian community…
The introduction of any new classification regime must take account of the independent editorial decision-making processes of the ABC…
The ABC believes any dilution of its independence, however subtle, may have a chilling effect on its ability to fulfil its core functions, including delivering diverse, innovative and sometimes controversial content to audiences.
This dynamic framework for classification allows the ABC to take chances with programs that commercial media cannot or will not support. Public broadcasters nurture new talent and support cutting-edge program-making…
ABC audiences can understand precisely what to expect at each classification level and can rest assured that the decisions made by ABC classifiers have been made as objectively as possible. The existing approach is effective, audience centred, responsible and responsive.” [As if.]
The 2020 ABC annual report says (p81):
Classification has progressively exhibited heightened sensibilities with respect to editorial concerns in children’s programming, which has led to a significant increase in the number of episodes being referred for review. There is far greater oversight of children’s programming in terms of the content’s compliance with non-classification matters, such as ABC Editorial Policies…
The ABC believes online protection of children and young people under the age of 18 is a shared responsibility between the ABC, the parent or guardian, and the child, and aims to ensure that children and young people who engage with the ABC’s online spaces understand the possible risks they face and how to minimise them.
The report says: “The trust with which Australians regard the ABC indicates the standard of its content at a time of declining trust in institutions and in media organisations in particular.” (p104). Personally, I trust the ABC to produce disgusting material for teenagers and to staunchly defend the practice, as if accountable to nobody.
Tony Thomas’s new book, Come To Think Of It – essays to tickle the brain, is available here as a book ($34.95) or an e-book ($14.95)
Material classified MA15+ deals with issues or contains depictions which require a more mature perspective. This is because the impact of individual elements or a combination of elements is considered likely to be harmful or disturbing to viewers under 15 years of age. While most themes may be dealt with, the degree of explicitness and intensity of treatment will determine what can be accommodated in the MA15+ category – the more explicit or more intense material, especially violent material, will be included in the MA15+ classification and the less explicit or less intense material will be included in the M classification.
 The embassy as everyone knows is in the Canberra suburb of O’Malley, 10 kilometres south of the city centre.
 “Abnormal interest and pleasure in faeces and defecation.”
 At Home Alone Together‘s contempt for women screened just a couple of months after the ABC’s International Women’s Day extravaganza featuring a cringe-worthy “all-female line-up across capital city Local Radio, ABC Classic and RN, as well as 24 hours of songs, stories, and discussions from female artists and presenters on triple j, Double J and triple j Unearthed.” (Annual Report, p67).
 A point worth noting is that films’ ratings is far more stringent than for television. With films and videos, MA15+ stands for “Mature Accompanied” and is legally restricted to over 15s or younger children accompanied by an adult. Young solo film-goers may be required to show proof of age on entry or when buying a DVD.
 ABC top executives’ love affair with At Home Alone Together bore fruit last October in the promotion of its “ever-genial” creator Nick Hayden to Head of Entertainment, replacing Josie Mason-Campbell, who had exited in the course of a budget-led restructure last June. She cited Home Alone as part of her entertainment track record, saying, “I have been privileged to work with the ABC and to lead a ridiculously talented and creatively brave factual and entertainment team.”
 It ranked 520th of all websites in the world last year. For proprieties sake we provide no link to it.
 The latest ABC annual report says, “Avoid the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice...”
 The ABC promotes Martin as “beloved national treasure Ray Martin”. Other lefty celebs with walk-on parts included Leigh Sales, Sydney red-bandanna-man Peter FitzSimons, Dr Norman Swan and Andrew Denton, plus elderly ex-priest and friend to the Occupy movement Father Bob Maguire.