Regulator rules Sandilands ‘grossly insensitive’ over disabled baby but did not breach rules

Kyle Sandilands has been cleared by the media regulator over his “spider baby” comments. However, his comments have been labelled “grossly insensitive”.

In May, the Australian Communications and Media Authority launched an investigation into jokes the controversial 2Day FM presenter made during a news bulletin on April 26.

During an item about a baby born in Pakistan with additional limbs after the death of its conjoined twin in the womb, Sandilands joked that the “spider baby” would have an advantage in the Olympics.

Audio of the spider baby comments:

Play

His comments drew complaints from the Sack Vile Kyle campaign which was set up in the wake of his attack on News Limited journalist Alison Stephenson. 2Day FM’s parent company Southern Cross Austereo is still fighting new licence conditions attached to the complaint about Sandiland’s attack being upheld.

But this time round, the ACMA has come down on Sandilands’ side.

The authority investigated whether the comments breached a licence condition aimed at protecting children in the wake of the infamous lie detector segment in which Sandilands quizzed a girl about her sexual experiences.

It ruled that as the child was in Pakistan, there was little likelihood of the comments causing it any harm. It said: “The ACMA found no evidence that the welfare or well-being of the baby concerned was, or was likely to have been, affected by the broadcast of the segment.”

The watchdog added: “The ACMA also considered whether the broadcast breached code provisions which prohibit the incitement of severe ridicule of a person because of their disability and the broadcast of material which offends generally accepted standards of decency.

“It found that while the broadcast conveyed severe ridicule and was grossly insensitive, it was not likely to incite severe ridicule of the child among listeners. Nor did the broadcast offend generally accepted standards of decency: although the comments were in poor taste and offensive to some, they were not, in the sense contemplated by the code, lewd, coarse or indecent.”

Comments


  1. David
    10 Aug 12
    12:32 pm

  2. Hardly a hanging offence, but childish and bad taste.
    True to form with this show.

  3. T
    10 Aug 12
    12:56 pm

  4. Oh come on!!
    I’m most certainly not Kyle’s biggest fan and agree that he’s crossed the line before, but this isn’t an example of this. If any other comedian or radio announcer said this, it wouldn’t be an issue.
    He’s on a hit list and can’t do anything right at the moment.

  5. Eric A Blair
    10 Aug 12
    12:58 pm

  6. ACMA should be ashamed – the direct ridicule isn’t the issue (although still relevant).

    The defense of the comments by the fact that the child will not be directly ridiculed is itself incredible.

    The direct prejudice against disability in general is the issue.

    What will it take to sanction Sandilands and have some effect? Is this really what passes for radio entertainment?

  7. Ivan Ardon
    10 Aug 12
    1:18 pm

  8. Witch hunt

    If he sinks he’s innocent

    If he floats he’s a witch

    Imagine the fervour if that baby was Australian and also fat. Eric and his pitchfork brigade would have Kyle’s head on a stake toot sweet.

  9. Jo K
    10 Aug 12
    1:27 pm

  10. While we’re on the topic of appropriateness, guides to reporting on disability tend to encourage journos not to use the term “disabled”…

  11. Matt
    10 Aug 12
    1:27 pm

  12. The man’s an ignorant moron. If you listen to him I’ve always just assumed you have a similarly challenged intellect.

  13. Mat Beeche
    10 Aug 12
    1:33 pm

  14. Were the other radio stations such as NOVA etc also investigated for their similar comments around the same topic?

  15. Tony
    10 Aug 12
    1:54 pm

  16. Other announcers did say the same thing and nothing happened. Sandilands has a target on his back. The show is Number 1. The majority of Sydney listen to it. Simple, get over it and move on.

  17. mumbrella
    10 Aug 12
    2:06 pm

  18. Hi Mat,

    No they weren’t – because there was no formal complaint from a member of the public.

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  19. falkous
    10 Aug 12
    2:55 pm

  20. there was no formal complaint because people with taste and morals don’t listen to the fool..

  21. Yuliana L
    10 Aug 12
    4:40 pm

  22. It’s just because he is the most controversial radio host that’s why people pick on him! I wonder if Hamish and Andy make jokes like this will they be labeled ‘grossly insensitive’ too?

  23. Richard Moss
    10 Aug 12
    4:56 pm

  24. @falkous

    People with taste and morals may well not listen to the “fool” but the “fool” is talking to everyone, including those with taste and morals.

    Listening to the audio attachment reveals more, in my opinion, than just the utterly insensitive and repeated statements and sound effects regarding the unfortunate Pakistani infant. There is the moment after he realises that there is a warning light, when he utters “oh no” and then continues to display utter contempt for his wider audience by referring to imagined letters from people so afflicted.

    A joke concerning a hypothetical person born with multiple limbs may well be funny, even intellectually stimulating, but a direct reference to an actual child picked specifically from the daily news, is crass and devoid of any form of higher thought or fellow feeling.

    In my opinion, he was acting like a little child who, in attempting to impress his playmates, has become overexcited and pissed his pants.

    However, it wouldn’t surprise me if those who should check his behaviour watch the ratings before making a statement or forming a decision to do so.

  25. Jamie
    10 Aug 12
    5:11 pm

  26. Move along….nothing to see here….

  27. Andy
    10 Aug 12
    5:30 pm

  28. I thought that we have a pretty good public health system here in Australia, surely Kyle has well and truly qualified for a larygnectomy by now?……What else does the poor fellow have to do in order to obtain one?

  29. ex-agency girl
    10 Aug 12
    5:39 pm

  30. The direct prejudice against disability in general is the issue here.

    I have a twin and it would devastate me if he died. My sister has given birth to a disabled child and that also was a terrible experience. It goes beyond the direct affect on the subject, and more to those who have to listen to his continual insensitive commentary. He’s quite frankly, foul – and very UN-Australian.

  31. richard moss
    10 Aug 12
    5:42 pm

  32. Sorry, I meant to say. Whatever!

  33. Betty Boo
    10 Aug 12
    7:43 pm

  34. I thought Kyle’s comment and sound effects he made were amusing – cruel but amusing.

    The kid affected lives in Pakistan – he’s never going to be directly affected.

    Storm in a teacup and I am not a Kyle fan nor a listener. (I’m old enough to listen to ABC Local Radio – 702 in Sydney).

  35. BrettD
    10 Aug 12
    10:07 pm

  36. One question: Would the decision have been the same if the baby had been in a Sydney hospital?

  37. richard moss
    11 Aug 12
    12:10 pm

  38. @Betty Boo

    “Cruel but amusing”?…. He was referring to a child with severe birth defects, so which is it, cruel but amusing, or maybe amusing but cruel? I will stick with cruel.

    [quote] ” The kid affected lives in Pakistan
    – he’s never going to be directly affected.” [unquote]

    How do you know? the internet serves the world and the story of the child got to us.
    Remember how our racist behaviour got back to India?

    Imagine if this were an Australian baby, and some English DJ suggested that Australia might have discovered a way to do better in the Olympic swimming.

    Sorry, I don’t think we can expect the physical distance between Australia and Pakistan to defuse bad taste and poor humour.

  39. Anonymous
    11 Aug 12
    10:55 pm

  40. The thing that really astounds me with all of this is that the ACMA ruling decided that Kyle’s comments did indeed ridicule this baby, were grossly insensitive and so on and yet they were not a breach of ‘generally accepted standards of decency’.

    Considering the ACMA have just enforced ‘decency training’ on staff at 2day fm you have to wonder what that would entail. Exactly what do the ACMA mean by decency? I would have thought that Kyle’s comments were far from it….