TV networks brought to heel


Some of Australian’s best-loved female television personalities are at serious risk of workplace injury or even death because of what they are expected to wear on camera, the CFMMEU has warned.

And it’s all because they are being forced by station managements to wear ridiculous high-heels on dangerous and cluttered TV sets, the union often at the forefront of occupational health and safety says.

An exclusive Bug investigation has shown it’s not just female presenters on trashy commercial networks that are at risk; ABC news icon Juanita Phillips also has been forced to wear high heels that, in the words of the CFMMEU, make her look like a “street walker plying her trade down at the Cross”.

Joanna Snipes, industrial officer with the Comfortable Footwear Makes Moving Easier Union (CFMMEU), says viewers can often sense the stress these female presenters are under as they try to navigate narrow walkways in their high heels.

“In the case of Channel 9 Sydney news, the concern on the face of their weather presenters (Amber Sherlock, pictured above) is often palpable as they walk backwards alongside their weather wall on a shiny surface barely a half-metre wide,” Ms Snipes said.

“And with a change of presentation format over at the ABC’s Sydney studios, Ms Phillips now has to stand for part of her news broadcast, her four-inch heels clearly on view (also above). You can tell she’s far from happy.

“What is management thinking,” Ms Snipes said. “Do they think these ladies are heading off to a ball or a cocktail party after they present their broadcasts?

“Television studios are notoriously cluttered and messy. There are cables and wires everywhere.

“Are we to believe these professional women walk on set in comfortable, safe flats and then pop on these ridiculous high heels because their superiors, more often than not males, think they look sexier or have more viewer appeal, or heaven forbid, are more believable  in high heels?”

A spokeswoman for Ms Phillips told The Bug the news reader was too emotional to talk about the issue.

“Do you know how long this striking, statuesque woman had waited for someone to take up her cause and that of other on-screen women presenters,” she said.

“Exactly what are the high heels for? To make women’s bottoms poke out more to satisfy male viewers! The whole thing’s disgusting.

“Since Juanita has been forced to wear those high heels, she’s noticed more and more studio crew and hangers-on calling her ‘toots’ and ‘sweetie’ and asking if she’d like a drink after work.

“Juanita has simply asked me to pass on just two words to The Bug: ‘Thank you!'”

Management at Nine and the ABC were unavailable for comment as this story went live but spokespeople for Grant Denyer and Steve Jacobs did ring the Bug office to plead that the story be spiked.

And several unidentified on-camera women told The Bug they actually enjoyed wearing high heels because they did in fact remind them of when they did work the streets.

STOP PRESS: ABC Publicity this morning sent The Bug a statement and some “before and after” images explaining that when Juanita Phillips “roamed around the news set” high heels were necessary to ensure her eyeline was suited to on-screen graphics and her “general screen presence”.

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