The ABC announced on October 31 that it was axing the popular satirical TV panel show The Glass House — one day after NSW Liberal Senator Connie Fierrvanti-Wells attacked the show in a parliamentary estimates committee hearing examining "ABC bias".
Hosted by comedians Wil Anderson, Corrine Grant and Dave Hughes, The Glass House has been attracting an average of 728,000 mainly young viewers each episode, its highest ratings since it went to air in 2001, making it one of the ABC's most popular shows. Last year, the show won an Australian Film Institute award, and was nominated again this year.
Fierrvanti-Wells said: "One of your presenters, Corinne Grant, is also the public face of the unions' anti-government IR campaign. She has also evidently produced a radio ad for the unions. I have to say that a very cosy arrangement between the unions and the ABC troubles me." Grant chaired a rally against the Work Choices legislation in 2005.
Kim Dalton, director of ABC TV, claimed that it was an "unfortunate coincidence" that the axing of The Glass House occurred in the current context of politically motivated attacks on the ABC.
Fans of the show have responded sceptically to the "unfortunate coincidence". A message posted on The Glass House website guestbook on November 10 read: "It's disappointing that in a time of war, death, drought, world poverty etc. that Little Johnny needs to focus his government's resources on the death of free speech."
The Glass House is the first ABC TV show to be axed since the announcement of a new $280,000-a-year "chief censor" position at the ABC to monitor program content for alleged political bias, although comedy programs were to be exempt from the examinations.
In a November 1 media release, Greens Senator Bob Brown commented: "This government has consistently made a fool of itself on climate change, on the war in Iraq and on refugees and for five years Wil Anderson, Corinne Grant and David Hughes have delighted and entertained us by pointing this out. Now the plug has been pulled on this high-rating entertainment show — what will be the next show to go at the ABC?"