Sky News was 'wrong' to give Blair Cottrell airtime. Advertisers might show just how wrong it was

Sky News was ‘wrong’ to give Blair Cottrell airtime. Advertisers might show just how wrong it was

Blair Cottrell
Sky News has apologised for inviting Blair Cottrell on to the network last night to discuss his far-right and extremist opinions on immigration.

Why the network ever thought it was appropriate to legitimise the dangerous and extreme views of the United Patriots Front leader by inviting him on air in the first place, and calling him an ‘activist’ in the process, might now be a better question for advertisers.

Many of those advertisers have already been under pressure to pull their money from the network  — following a campaign last month after disgusting comments about Senator Sarah Hanson-Young were aired on Sky’s Outsiders program.

That campaign, led largely by Sleeping Giants Oz, had considerable success, seeing  Outsiders running mostly advertising-free for a number of episodes. It saw a number of major organisations agreeing to review how they’re spending their advertising dollars, including UBank, Scenic, Citi Bank, ANZ, NIB and BayerANZ. These advertisers have not appeared on Outsiders since.

Balsam Hill, a provider of Christmas goods, publicly withdrew its advertising support  for Sky News last month.

Sleeping Giants Oz is a social media based organisation aiming to stop anti-Semitic, sexist, homophobic and racist views appearing on news sites and television, by targeting advertisers. It’s an Australian version of a similar US campaign, that has had considerable success in creating advertising blacklists against programs and sites airing racist and misogynistic views, including against the far-right wing site, Breitbart.

It’s success appears to stem from its persistence in calling out advertisers, naming them on social media and encouraging others to request that they address how they’re spending their money.

At the time of publishing, another major advertiser agreed to pull its support for Outsiders, with Luxury Escapes saying they will have their ads removed.

Meanwhile, some of Sky’s biggest names have also hit back at the Cottrell interview, with Laura Jayes calling Cottrell an “arsehole” and David Speers saying he “100% agrees with Jayes. “It was wrong to have this guy on Sky News.”

Last year Cottrell was found guilty under Victoria’s racial vilification laws for inciting contempt, revulsion or ridicule of Muslims. He was part of a trio fined $2000 each. He has expressed misogynistic and pro-Nazi views in the past, including stating that a photograph of Adolf Hitler should hang, “In every classroom and every school, and his book should be issued to every student annually.”

He has also previously stated that he has manipulated women by “using violence and terror .. We use what we have got to get what we want.”

Cottrell was invited onto the Adam Giles Show, where he shared his views about the need to protect people from “foreign ideologies”. The studio interview was pulled from Sky’s online platform within hours of it airing.

That followed a tweet from Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge saying he will refuse to go on Sky until it gives a full apology and “clear commitment to never again air this man’s hateful views”. He called on other politicians who “care about decency” to boycott Sky News.

There have also been calls (as were previously made following the comments about Hanson-Young) for Virgin to block Sky in its lounges.

It could be advertisers that do the talking on this one, whether publicly or not.

Apologies from the boss of a television network after a self-described racist has been given free airtime to express his views are not good enough.

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