SBS executives this week scotched a rumour that the federal government would seek to have the popular TV show Queer As Folk taken off the air.

A parliamentary source told Sydney Star Observer this week that the show became a matter of discussion between the government and conservative independent Senator Brian Harradine during negotiations over the government’s new cross-media ownership legislation.

According to this source, Senator Harradine told the government his support for the bill was in part conditional on the removal of lewd programs -“ such as Queer As Folk -“ from the airways.

Spokespeople for Senator Harradine and government Senator Richard Alston denied the rumour.

The negotiations have been focused on policy issues. I’d be surprised if we were entertaining any issues outside the purview of the bill, Senator Alston’s spokes-person said, while Senator Harradine’s spokes-person said he was not aware of it being discussed.

A spokesperson for the SBS network said, As long as Queer As Folk is being made, we will screen it. The network planned to screen the program’s third series (currently airing in the US) in January, the spokesperson said.

Julie Eisenberg, the head of policy at SBS, told the Star that the network’s independence was guaranteed by legislation and that she was not aware of any instances of an attempt to influence programming by the government. The station’s code of practice also has an enshrined commitment to provocative and controversial programming, she said.

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