• 19 FEB 07
    • 0

    #650: Cancer fight ‘cost my job’ at Toowong (Courier Mail)

    The Courier Mail (Australia)

    February 19, 2007 Monday
    First with the news Edition

    Cancer fight ‘cost my job’
    BYLINE: Melanie Christiansen

    ‘I believe I was taken off air because of my role in
    supporting breast cancer victims and my ABC
    colleagues’ Ian Eckersley

    A SENIOR ABC sports presenter has quit his job,
    claiming he has been victimised for speaking out about
    the breast cancer cluster, which forced the national
    broadcaster to evacuate its Brisbane studios last
    year.

    Ian Eckersley, pictured, who acted as staff spokesman
    during a six-month investigation of the cancer
    cluster, said he was informed by email last week that
    he would no longer present the sport on the weekend
    television news.

    ”It was a terrible way to learn of such a major
    decision affecting my 17-year career at the ABC and I
    was deeply hurt to find out in that manner,” he said.

    There has been no specialist sports presenter on the
    ABC’s weekend television bulletins since the Toowong
    site was closed just before Christmas.

    Since then, reporters have worked from a temporary
    newsroom at Mt Coot-tha with the bulletin’s presenters
    operating from studios in Sydney.

    But Mr Eckersley said he had expected to be back on
    air when a new temporary television news studio at
    West End was ready next week.

    He said he did not accept his manager’s explanation
    that the decision was taken for logistical reasons.

    ”I believe I was taken off air as sports presenter
    because of my role with the staff reference group in
    supporting breast cancer victims and my ABC
    colleagues,” he said.

    Mr Eckersley said he was left in an untenable
    position, with no option but to resign and now
    intended to talk to his lawyer about possible legal
    action against the national broadcaster.

    But ABC network head Alan Sunderland yesterday
    rejected any suggestion Mr Eckersley had been
    victimised.

    ”I’ve got to say in the current climate, I find it
    very disturbing he would attempt to link this decision
    to the breast cancer issue,” he said.

    ”I just cannot for the life of me understand how that
    can possibly be substantiated or sustained.”

    Mr Sunderland said the decision not to have a
    specialist sports presenter was based on the
    logistical difficulties of having the newsroom and the
    news studio operating from separate locations about
    half an hour apart.

    With the opening of the West End news studio next
    week, the ABC’s Brisbane operation will be split
    between seven sites.

    That does not include a facility at Channel Seven on
    Mt Coot-tha, where the ABC spent up to $50,000 before
    deciding not to move in.

    ABC managing director Mark Scott told an estimates
    committee hearing last week a decision had been taken
    that the site was ”not an optimal place for us”.

    JOURNAL-CODE: CML

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