Australian network ABC has been slammed after reportedly banning TV journalist Natasha Exelby from appearing on-air following her daydreaming gaffe during a news bulletin.

Exelby was caught playing with a pen when the camera cut back to her at her desk during Saturday's evening bulletin, reported The Daily Mail.

Her shocked response gave viewers a good laugh but her bosses were less than amused.

And now a legion of supporters have blasted ABC for its "ridiculous, humourless overreaction" to the TV presenter's on-air blooper.

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Exelby was told on Monday she had lost her news-reading position and had been 'banned' from any more on-air work, The Daily Telegraph reported.

A spokesperson for the Australian Broadcasting Company told Daily Mail Australia: "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."

Exelby told News Corp: "It would be inappropriate for me to comment."

She did, however, take to Twitter to thank followers for their support - which has been flooding in since the incident.


In their supportive messages, many prominent journalists revealed the same thing had happened to them more than once.

Wendy Harmer, the host of Mornings on ABC Radio, tweeted to Ms Exelby to say she fell victim to gripping daydreams often.


Fairfax reporter Latika Bourke said she would not be where she was today if she had been punished so harshly for a similar mistake.


A Change.org petition was also set up, calling on ABC to reinstate the journalist - and it has 1181 supporters.

The scandal surrounds footage of the journalist, who was in the middle of presenting an evening bulletin on ABC News 24, when she found herself being filmed staring mindlessly at her pen, unaware she was live on air.

A news report had just finished when the bulletin cut back to show Exelby inside the public broadcaster's Sydney studio not looking at the camera.

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She was seen with her head down and fiddling with a pen for a few seconds before realising she was back in the spotlight.

A clearly shocked Exelby, with her eyes wide-open, threw down her pen in a flash and simultaneously let out an audible gasp.

Shaken by the lapse in concentration, she quickly recovered to handball the next story over to the sports desk, complete with a wry smile.

"Now to sport with Meredith Sheehan," she said.

It is not the first time Exelby has seen herself reporting on the news become the news.

In 2013, while working at Channel 10, she was forced to apologise after laughing while presenting a news report about a tragic accident.

"I just wanted to apologise," Exelby said later in the bulletin.

"I got a case of the giggles a little bit earlier while reading some very serious news and if I have offended anyone I am sincerely sorry."

In the same bulletin, she also said of Irish adventurer Allan Dixon who had just been interviewed on air by her colleague Matt Doran: 'Maybe he will get to be one little leprechaun, who knows?'

Doran had asked Mr Dixon if he was 'attached' before throwing to Exelby and saying: "We were taking about recruitment of a different kind there but obviously you thought Allan was well qualified for the job".