Sydney radio station 2GB has dropped all advertising on its breakfast show after recent comments by its host.
Presenter Alan Jones made comments off-air (but in public) about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard – saying her father, who passed away unexpectedly last month, died of shame after his daughter told lies in Parliament.
Now owners Macquarie Radio Network and Alan Jones himself are now in the middle of social media backlash and online petition calling for Jones to be sacked and for advertisers to pull sponsorship.
Both the station management and Jones immediately apologised for the comments.
Macquarie Chairman Russell Tate said that the decision to drop advertising was influenced by threats on social media against advertisers on Jones show.
In making the announcement, Tate has said; “There is almost universal agreement that Jones’ remarks were unacceptable, wrong and inexcusable.
“Alan himself acknowledged that from the moment he first advised me of them. Alan Jones’ audience, those who listen regularly to his program, also agree that his remarks were unacceptable. From research we have conducted over this weekend with them, it is also clear though the great majority acknowledge his apology and have not significantly changed their attitude towards the Alan Jones Breakfast Show.
“Importantly, nor is there any indication from regular listeners that their attitudes towards companies advertising in the program has changed adversely.”
“Since we now know these things to be fact, we have to conclude that the avalanche of telephone, email and Facebook demands to our advertisers to “boycott” the Alan Jones Breakfast Show, and the threats to destroy their businesses if they don’t comply, are coming almost entirely from people who do not listen to Alan Jones or 2GB at all – probably never have done and never will.”
Tate went on to say that the social media campaign against Alan Jones amounts to censorship through cyber-bullying.
“We have taken this unprecedented decision to suspend advertising in the Alan Jones Breakfast Show until further notice so that all of our advertisers are on an equal footing, can regroup and discuss with us the way forward and how we together deal with these attempts to damage great Australian businesses.”
“The decision obviously comes at a very significant short term cost to MRN. It is an insignificant price to pay for our audience to be able to listen to what they choose to listen to, and for Australian companies to advertise where they choose to advertise.”
The survey Macquarie have conducted over the weekend was a brief one distributed to 2GB listeners and probed the attitude of people towards Jones, and his programme, since the news of the comments regarding the Prime Minister and her late father were made public.
Macquarie shares fell heavily this week, closing on friday at 55c, down from 65c when the news of Jones comments broke. This means a current market valuation of $41m for the consolidated business.
It would appear likely that the share price may come under pressure when the ASX opens tomorrow.
There has been no comment as to the duration of the advertising withdrawal by Macquarie.
Reproduced in part from Radio Today Australia.