An Australian couple was shocked and disturbed to discover the image of their daughter on television last week not only being displayed but also made fun of by sports commentators. Michael and Melanie Richmond said the image of their 18-month old daughter, Bella, was used without their permission during a Thursday night broadcast of “NRL Footy Show.”
The 10-second clip of the program shows six broadcasters laughing on air after a Channel 9 commentator compares the baby to 52-year-old former Australian rugby player Peter “Sterlo” Sterling. Sterling claims on air that the photo was submitted by a friend of the couple.
According to Michael, the Avalon family said the photograph used was a Facebook image of their infant daughter, a photograph that the program was never given permission to use on air. The couple is also claiming commentators called their daughter “ugly” before the comparison comment, AU News reported Monday.
“We were going to let it go, but we can’t,” said Michael, who said the couple is considering taking legal action against the network after never receiving a response from the show’s producers. “Someone has put our baby on TV. We want to get some feedback on what our legal options are now,” he said.
The family, which Michael said posted the photo on a Facebook page one year prior to the program’s use, is still looking for retribution despite understanding the image was placed on a public forum. "That fact is that somewhere, somehow a producer has gotten a photo of my daughter and made the decision to put it on television,” Michael said. “I know it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but she’s just a baby. It’s not cool.”
A Facebook statement from the "Footy Show” claims the image was not taken from the couple’s Facebook page and was sent in from a viewer to air on the show’s “Look-A-Likes” segment. The statement also insists producers have been in contact with the family since Friday, despite the couple's reports, apologizing for the image use saying, “We never intended to cause hurt to them or their child and, of course, apologize if it did.”