ACMA receives over 100 complaints about Alan Jones’ Jacinda Ardern comments

The regulatory body which enforces radio’s code of conduct – The Australian Communications and Media Authority – received over 100 complaints about Alan Jones’ latest controversy.

ACMA told Mumbrella Jones’ broadcaster, 2GB, had 60 days to respond the complaints, upon which they will either be considered ‘dealt with’, or they may be escalated.

Jones has apologised for his comments, but Macquarie’s boss has given him his final warning

Consumers who take issue with content broadcast on commercial radio must complain within 30 days of the broadcast. Jones’ comments – in which he suggested Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison shove a sock down the throat of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and that Ardern should be “backhanded” – went to air on 15 August, meaning the window has now closed.

“The ACMA has received over 100 complaints regarding the comments made by Mr Jones about Jacinda Ardern,” an ACMA spokesperson told Mumbrella after the window closed.

“Under the co-regulatory system, the ACMA will refer complaints to the broadcaster in the first instance.

“If the complainant does not receive a response from the broadcaster in 60 days, or is not satisfied with the response, they may refer their complaint to the ACMA.”

2GB is bound by the Commercial Radio Australia Radio Code of Practice.

Material that the code deems not suitable for broadcast includes content which “is likely to incite or encourage violence or brutality or present gratuitous violence or brutality”, and that which “is likely to incite in a reasonable listener hatred against, or serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, any person or group of persons because of age, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preferences, religion, transgender status or disability”.

A further stipulation reads: “Program content must not offend generally standards of decency (for example, the use of unjustified language), having regard to the demographic characteristics of the audience of the relevant program.”

Jones comments were made in August, and led to widespread backlash on social media. Numerous advertisers then took a stance against the program, including big spenders Coles and the Commonwealth Bank.

Initially, Jones was unfazed by the exodus, claiming that for each advertiser which departed, another would simply take its place.

The tone has since shifted, however, with Jones being told by his employer if he mis-steps again his contract will be terminated.

In addition, last week Macquarie Media’s chairman Russell Tate wrote to advertisers apologising for getting it wrong, and offering up meetings between clients, station management and Jones himself.

The note also revealed the content of Jones’ show, and the wider content of Sydney’s 2GB and Brisbane’s 4BC, was in review.

Last week’s letter from Tate (Click to enlarge)

Macquarie Media is in the midst of a take-over bid from Nine, which already owns just over 50% of the company.

In the most recent radio ratings survey, 2GB in Sydney had a market-leading 13.4% share, down 0.6 points from the previous survey. Alan Jones in breakfast had a 17.1% share, down 0.3 points, but still well ahead of the competition.

In Brisbane, 4BC is far from the market leader, with a 6.7% share, placing it in seventh place. The breakfast show fell back 1.4 points to a 7.5% share in the most recent ratings results, which also places it in seventh.

The survey period, however, covered 26 May to 29 June, and 14 July to 17 August. Jones made the comments on 15 August, so any real audience knock-on effects won’t be seen until the release of the next survey on 1 October. That survey covers 14 July to 21 September inclusive.

Macquarie Media has been approached for comment.


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