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Media Watch
Media Watch Cap 2006.jpg
Opener to the 2006 season of Media Watch
Directed by David Rector
Presented by Jonathan Holmes (since 2008)
Theme music composer Roi Huberman
Country of origin  Australia
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 20
Executive producer(s) Jo Puccini
Running time 15 minutes
Original channel ABC1
Picture format 576i (SDTV)
Original run 8 May 1989 – 6 November 2000
8 April 2002 – present
External links
Official website

Media Watch is an Australian television program broadcast by ABC1 and ABC2. It currently screens from 9.20 pm to 9.35 pm on Monday, repeated on Tuesday at 12.20 am. Despite the limitations of this timeslot and its small production budget, it has been one of the most controversial and influential programs on Australian television since its premiere on 8 May 1989.

The current presenter is Jonathan Holmes.[1]



Media Watch is viewed by some as a watchdog of the Australian media, that investigates and exposes media bias and breaches of journalistic ethics and standards.

Opening sequence of 2005 season.

The series initially presented a roughly even mix of amusing gaffes (such as miscaptioned photographs) and more serious criticism. Over the years, the emphasis has shifted towards the latter, although the show often begins or ends with a more humorous piece.

The show's presenters have taken some pride in the vehemence of the criticism it attracts; at one point, the opening credits were made up of a montage of such criticisms, prominently featuring a description of original presenter Stuart Littlemore as a 'pompous git'. In 2002, the then-editor of The Daily Telegraph, Campbell Reid, sent host David Marr a dead fish; a replica of it is now awarded as the Campbell Reid Perpetual Trophy for the Brazen Recycling of Other People's Work.[2] Known as "The Barra" and bearing the motto Carpe Verbatim, it is awarded annually for bad journalism and particularly plagiarism (a practice for which Reid was frequently criticised).

This ability to generate controversy led to the temporary cancellation of the show. In 2000, host Paul Barry was controversially sacked and in 2001, the program itself was axed by Jonathon Shier, the head of the ABC. However, in early 2002, after Shier was himself sacked in equally controversial circumstances, the show returned with Marr as the new host.[3] Whilst Media Watch was off air, Stuart Littlemore returned to the ABC to host Littlemore, a media program that ran for 13 episodes between March and May 2001.[3]

No media organisation is entirely safe from Media Watch, and it has criticised its own network, the ABC.[4] When David Marr was host from 2002 to 2004, the show often criticised Marr's employer John Fairfax Holdings. David Salter, a former executive producer of Media Watch, has suggested that it is "unwilling to subject Michael Brissenden, a journalist in the ABC's news and current affairs department, to the same level of ethical scrutiny it applies to others."[5] Robert Manne, a supporter of the show, also agrees it has historically had a left wing bias.[6]

The Australian, which is regularly criticised by Media Watch, has been a long term counter-critic of the show. In August 2007 it editorialised that Media Watch "lacks journalistic integrity and conducts its affairs along the lines of an insiders' club that pushes its ideological prejudice at taxpayers' expense".[7]

In June 2007, Media Watch strongly criticised The Daily Telegraph, among others, for failing to censor racist comments on their website forums,[8] but then failed to censor strongly anti-Semitic comments on its own web forum.[9] The ABC later launched an internal inquiry into Media Watch's reliance on IslamicSydney, "an Islamic website that peddle[s] anti-Semitic and jihadi messages", for this story.[10]

Cash for comments

In 1999, the program revealed that influential talkback radio hosts Alan Jones and John Laws had been paid to provide favourable on-air comment about companies such as Qantas, Optus, Foxtel and Mirvac, without disclosing these arrangements to listeners. It also persistently criticised the then Australian Broadcasting Authority (superseded by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in 2005) as impotent or unwilling to regulate broadcast media, and to properly scrutinise figures such as Jones and Laws. The revelations won Media Watch staffers Richard Ackland, Deborah Richards and Anne Connolly two Walkley Awards: the Gold Walkley, and the Walkley for TV Current Affairs Reporting (Less Than 10 Minutes). In 2004, Media Watch played a major part in forcing the resignation of ABA head David Flint, after it was discovered that Flint had sent Jones admiring and effusive letters at a time when the ABA was investigating Jones concerning further cash for comment allegations. The reports won Media Watch another Walkley, TV Current Affairs Reporting (Less Than 20 Minutes) to staffers David Marr, Peter McEvoy and Sally Virgoe.


At the end of the 2004 season, David Marr announced his intention to step down and return to mainstream journalism,[11] and former Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson became host for 2005;[12] at the end of the 2005 season Jackson returned to Four Corners.[13] Monica Attard began hosting the program 2006,[14] though stated she would not continue to be host when the show returned in 2008.[15] Jonathan Holmes is the current presenter.[16]


Season No. Season Start Season End Episodes Host Notes
1 8 May 1989 4 December 1989  ? Stuart Littlemore -
2 12 February 1990 12 November 1990  ? Stuart Littlemore -
3 11 February 1991 18 November 1991  ? Stuart Littlemore -
4 10 February 1992 9 November 1992  ? Stuart Littlemore -
5 8 February 1993 15 November 1993  ? Stuart Littlemore -
6 14 February 1994 14 November 1994  ? Stuart Littlemore -
7 13 February 1995 13 November 1995  ? Stuart Littlemore -
8 12 February 1996 11 November 1996  ? Stuart Littlemore -
9 10 February 1997 10 November 1997  ? Stuart Littlemore -
10 9 March 1998 2 November 1998  ? Richard Ackland -
11 15 March 1999 8 November 1999 35 Richard Ackland -
12 7 February 2000 6 November 2000 39 Paul Barry 1
13 8 April 2002 11 November 2002 32 David Marr -
14 10 February 2003 3 November 2003 39 David Marr -
15 9 February 2004 15 November 2004 41 David Marr -
16 7 March 2005 7 November 2005 36 Liz Jackson -
17 13 February 2006 30 October 2006 38 Monica Attard -
18 26 February 2007 12 November 2007 37 Monica Attard 2
19 18 February 2008 10 November 2008 39 Jonathan Holmes -
20 9 February 2009 9 November 2009 40 Jonathan Holmes -
21 2010 (TBD) Jonathan Holmes -
  1. ^  No episode was broadcast on 29 May 2000 due to ABC TV's screening of After the Corroboree? which was a forum on the future of reconciliation in Australia.
  2. ^  No episode was broadcast on 14 May 2007 due to ABC TV's screening of Bastard Boys.

See also


  1. ^ Welch, Dylan (27 November 2007). "Holmes is new Media Watch presenter". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  2. ^ "The Barra 2005". Media Watch. Retrieved 12 February 2006.  
  3. ^ a b Tabakoff, Jenny (2 April 2002). "The watchdog barks again". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  4. ^ Enker, Debi (9 December 2004). "Fifteen minutes of fame". The Age. Retrieved 4 December 2007.  
  5. ^ Salter, David (23 August 2007). "Watchdog must bite all hands equally". The Australian.,25197,22290268-13243,00.html. Retrieved 22 December 2007.  
  6. ^ Manne, Robert (4 April 2007). "The new bland and dull ABC". The Age. Retrieved 4 December 2007.  
  7. ^ "Old tricks back at Media Watch". Editorial (The Australian). 23 August 2007.,25197,22290476-16741,00.html. Retrieved 3 October 2007.  
  8. ^ "Have Your Spray". Media Watch. 18 June 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.  
  9. ^ "Media Watch fails racism test". The Daily Telegraph. 25 June 2007.,23663,21959678-10388,00.html. Retrieved 26 November 2007.  
  10. ^ Kerbaj, Richard (12 July 2007). "Media Watch's jihadi sources".,20867,22058577-7582,00.html. Retrieved 22 December 2008.  
  11. ^ Delaney, Brigid (6 October 2004). "Media Watch presenter to hand over reins". The Age. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  12. ^ "Liz new Media Watch host". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 February 2005. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  13. ^ Baker, Jordan (25 November 2005). "Media Watch on the prowl again for a host". The Sydney Morning Herald.  
  14. ^ Joran, Baker (7 December 2005). "Attard fronts Media Watch". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  15. ^ Matthew, Ricketson (17 September 2007). "Media Watch presenter steps down". The Age. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  
  16. ^ Welch, Dylan (27 November 2007). "Holmes is new Media Watch presenter". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2007.  

External links



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