When the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left at least 49 people dead on Thursday night, became known, I started watching Twitter. Two surprising themes stood out: people urged their social media followers to protect themselves from accidentally watching an extremely graphic 17-minute video of the attack, and separately, locals in New Zealand and Australia condemned local channel Sky News Australia. intentionally sharing parts of that same video with his viewers.
“We support our fellow New Zealanders”
Now broadcaster Sky New Zealand has taken the drastic step of removing Sky News Australia from its over-the-air broadcasts. “We stand by our fellow New Zealanders and have made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform until we are sure that the dire footage from yesterday’s events will not be shared,” Sky NZ said. wrote in a tweet since deleted archived by Buzzfeed.
Sky NZ later changed its message drastically, stating that the network is simply “working with our colleagues” on Sky News Australia “to ensure that the coverage does not compromise the ongoing investigations”, and suggests that it was a joint decision. with Sky News Australia to get coverage off the air.
We stand by our fellow New Zealanders and are working with our colleagues at @SkyNewsAust to ensure that coverage does not compromise ongoing investigations in New Zealand. We made the decision on Friday with Sky News Australia to replace their live news with sport.
– SKY New Zealand (@SKYNZ) March 16, 2019
But that does not match the statements of a Sky New Zealand spokesperson to the New Zealand Herald, which coincided with the original tweet: “We made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform while disturbing footage of the shooting was being displayed to avoid causing distress to our viewers. It will remain off the air until we are sure the footage is not will share. “
The change in messaging is especially weird because, from what I can tell, the two Skys aren’t exactly colleagues. Sky News Australia was part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire as of 2016, and is still listed as such on News Corp Australia’s brand page, while News Corp sold its stake in New Zealand’s Sky Network Television in 2013. As such Was there ever a subsequent acquisition that wasn’t widely covered, though?
The New Zealand police said last night that they had been doing their best to remove images of terrorist attacks from the Internet, a very difficult task, and reminded citizens that in New Zealand, the distribution of an “objectionable publication” it’s a crime:
We would also like to remind the public that it is a crime to distribute an objectionable publication and is punishable by imprisonment.
Once again, I want to assure the public that a large Police presence remains in the city for the time being.
– New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
A “plain English guide” to that law shows that it carries fines of up to 14 years in prison or a fine of up to $ 200,000 for an organization. But that law probably has nothing to do with Sky NZ’s decision to take Sky News Australia off the air, because there seems to be a built-in exception for broadcasters. (I am not a lawyer.)
the New Zealand Herald reports that Sky News Australia’s news coverage has been replaced, for now, by Fox Sports instead.