The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been met with an uproar on social media amid reports an ABC news presenter has been stepped down over an on-air gaffe on Sunday.
News anchor Natasha Exelby was caught examining a pen on ABC News 24 on Sunday night before the in-studio camera cut to her following a reporter's segment. Her startled reaction to the mix-up is reportedly the reason the ABC has decided to remove her from all on-air roles in the future, according to News Corp.
Former Wake Up! co-host Exelby was reportedly told by the ABC she has been removed from future newsreading duties following the blooper.
Journalists, media personalities and ABC viewers were quick to react on social media on Monday night to express their anger over the reports, labelling the possible move "brutal", "rough' and "ridiculous".
On Monday night a Change.org petition was also launched calling for the reinstatement of Exelby and intervention of ABC CEO and Editor-in-Chief Michelle Guthrie.
"If journalists, presenters and news readers were sacked every time they made an on-air gaffe - they're be none left!" the petition reads.
While Exelby is yet to comment on the reports, she responded to her slip-up on Sunday by saying she has to take responsibility for the incident as a "professional", according to News.com.au.
"I can understand why people found it funny, and it was certainly me at my most raw. But I also have to take some responsibility here. I'm a professional and what happened was far from professional," she said.
A spokesperson for the ABC declined to confirm or deny the reports that Exelby would be continuing on-air duties in the future, calling her a "casual contributor, not a staff member".
"Natasha Exelby is a casual contributor, not a staff member. She has been booked for occasional on-air shifts when needed, and also does other occasional shifts for the ABC News channel," a statement released by the ABC said.
"Contributors work out their shifts with managers on a per needs basis. Details of individuals' shifts are confidential to them and not something we make public comment on."
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