Senate to investigate threat to sack Phillip Adams 11/09/00 : LUSENET : Friends of the ABC : One Thread

The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September, reports as follows: - NATIONAL

Senate to look into ABC 'threat to sack Adams'


Claims that the ABC board wanted radio host Phillip Adams sacked will be investigated by the Senate.

Labor's Senator Chris Schacht will grill ABC management in estimate hearings in November over what he says is prima facie evidence that the Coalition is interfering politically with the staff of the ABC.

Senator Schacht said he wanted to know whether it was true that the network manager Mr Steven Alward and editor Ms Amanda Armstrong, under pressure from the board, threatened to sack Adams.

"If they didn't get it from the board, did they do it on their own bat?" he said.

If so, Senator Schacht said, he wanted to know if they had been disciplined.

On July 6 Mr Alward and Ms Armstrong told Adams, a strident critic of the Prime Minister and host of Late Night Live, that he was to be sacked at the behest of the ABC board, according to a report in The Bulletin this week.

"If we don't sack you, we'll get the sack ourselves," Alward allegedly told Adams.

"And we've got to protect the network" Armstrong added.

Adams was then offered a deal in which his Late Night Live slot would be cut from eight hours a week to two and moved to a Saturday afternoon. His $150,000 salary was also to be cut by two-thirds. Immediately after Alward and Armstrong left, Adams reconstructed the conversation on a tape recorder.

Using that recording 12 days later, he wrote a six-page account of the exchange to the chairman of the ABC board, Mr Donald McDonald, who is a close friend of the Prime Minister.

"Given the media speculation about my tenure, and the allegation that you're the driving force behind my death sentence, I think you should know the details of what occurred at my home on Thursday, 6 July at 11 am," the letter says, according to a copy The Bulletin said it had obtained.

Mr McDonald wrote a letter denying there was a plan to sack him or that the board had ever discussed his dismissal.

Adams, who was alarmed that his letter had been made public, has said he believes Mr McDonald's denial.

Mr McDonald has handed the matter to the ABC's director of radio, Ms Sue Howard, and the new managing director, Mr Jonathan Shier, who has been overhauling news and current affairs programs at the national broadcaster since his arrival in March.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000

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