What started as a humorous on-air gaffe by newsreader Natasha Exelby has turned into social media outrage for ABC News after it was reported the newsreader has been demoted from her on-air role.
Video of a distracted, then shocked Exelby went viral on the weekend, and generated plenty of humorous responses from other media presenters whom have been caught in similar situations.
However, all that positivity quickly turned negative after The Daily Telegraph reported Exelby had been informed has been axed from news reading duties due to the incident.
A spokesperson for the ABC has tonight declined to confirm if Exelby will continue in an on-air role at the network telling DeciderTV:
"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.
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.”
Exelby has also declined to confirm her reported demotion telling News Corp “it would be inappropriate for me to comment”.
Updated - 12pm April 11: ABC News Director Gaven Morris has now denied media speculation that Natasha Exelby had been demoted, telling DeciderTV:
“Live television is a demanding art and slip-ups will happen — our presenters are humans, not robots. We take on-air standards extremely seriously, but we don’t expect perfection. No one would ever be punished for a blooper and, while it isn’t appropriate to publicly discuss confidential details of people’s personal work arrangements, this has not happened to Natasha.
“Media reports that Natasha has been “banned”, “barred” or “fired” are untrue. Natasha is a freelance journalist who works as a contributor. She has been rostered for various shifts and has been assured since yesterday that we want that to continue. While she is not currently doing any on-air shifts, this will be subject to normal performance management. I have spoken to Natasha and conveyed our regret that this has attracted such attention.”
This is not the first time Exelby has been involved in an on-air gaffe, in 2013 she was forced to apologise after laughing throughout a news report concerning an Indian building collapse in which 10 people were killed including 5 children.
In 2014 she was sacked as one of 3 hosts of TEN’s Wake Up breakfast program after the show had been on-air for just 3 weeks.
This story updates.