Kyle and Jackie O in trouble with ACMA over ‘disparaging’ Tokyo Paralympics comments

KIIS hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson are in hot water with the Australian media regulator over their “disparaging” comments on The Paralympics athletes on their breakfast show.

The Australia Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ruled on Tuesday that two broadcasts of the Kyle & Jackie O show in September 2021 that discussed the Tokyo Paralympics breached the “decency” code of practice.

KIIS hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson

During the initial segment, Sandilands recounted having watched the Paralympics and stating that some of the things were “horrific”, which the regulator considered a strong and negative term.

Additionally, Sandilands described the actions of “blind” soccer players “throwing themselves on the ground like sausages” and recounted how a “blind” athlete had “landed on his arse” as a result of being vision-impaired, which the ACMA considered as a ridicule of the athletes’ performance.

The ARN station defended in its submission that regular listeners of The Kyle and Jackie O Show are accustomed to its format and presentation.

“The type of language employed by the hosts sometimes includes some low-level coarse language that is ordinarily reserved for private conversation but is in keeping with the expectations of the Program’s audience,” the submission read.

“Mr Sandilands is well known for his turn of phrase, colourful vernacular and blunt manner … Our expectation is that regular Kyle & Jackie listeners would not have been offended by the Paralympics Segment.”

However, the ACMA said the submission did not suggest the demographic of The Kyle and Jackie O Show audience would have different standards about commenting on people with disabilities than the Australian community.

Furthermore, a segment aired two days later was found to be in breach of the “decency” provision again, where Sandilands threatened a named journalist who had criticised the program by telling them to “expect a visit from me”.

“Well mate if I can’t come and see you, I’ll send around one of me […] mates just to remind you of your manners. No; that’s not a threat, that’s a guarantee,” Sandilands said.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said: “Threatening and intimidating an individual is an unacceptable response to criticism and an entirely inappropriate use of broadcast media.”

The radio duo were also pinged by ACMA over a “decency” breach in 2020, when Sandilands’ comments that the Virgin Mary “lied” about falling pregnant to a “magical ghost” when “someone chock-a-blocked her behind the camel shed” attracted 180 complaints.

Following the Paralympics review, KIIS has employed a second censor to assist its primary censor to monitor its output against the code of practice. Program hosts, producers, censor and other relevant staff will also undergo sensitivity training.

The station will also conduct an independent assessment of the existing controls it has in place and report back to ACMA in two years.

In the latest GfK radio survey, the Kyle & Jackie O show has bumped 2GB’s Ben Fordham off from its top spot at breakfast, while KIIS ended 2GB’s 18-year reign as Sydney’s #1 radio station.

ARN was approached for comment.


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