Macquarie Media apologises to Alan Jones’ advertisers and commences review of 2GB’s content

Radio broadcaster 2GB has commenced a PR offensive, writing to its advertisers to apologise for Alan Jones’ on-air conduct, and offering clients meetings with both management and Jones to hear their views on how the station can recover.

In a letter sent to 2GB’s advertisers from its parent company Macquarie Media, chairman Russell Tate also revealed there would be a full review of content on the Alan Jones Breakfast Show, which will then extend to all programs on Sydney’s 2GB and Brisbane’s 4BC.

All of 2GB’s content will be reviewed

Jones’ latest controversy commenced back in August when, on-air, he suggested Australian prime minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock” down the throat of his New Zealand equivalent, Jacinda Ardern, to silence her on climate change.

Jones subsequently claimed he meant to use the more common and less aggressive phrase “put a sock in it”, and it wasn’t until he re-listened to the audio that he realised he’d over-stepped the mark.

Community backlash, however, caused multiple advertisers, including the Commonwealth Bank and Coles, to pause their media spend with the program.

In the letter to advertisers dated today, Tate said the incident highlighted how disruptive “offended groups” could be to media outlets.

“Throughout this incident, we have experienced the ability of offended groups to greatly amplify their complaints, and to actively disrupt you, our clients and your staff, who have done no more than seek to engage with the audience which chooses to listen to us,” Tate said.

“Of course we have seen valued commercial partners withdraw from Alan’s program, but the fact is we got it wrong in the first place and we must now do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen again.”

Macquarie Media has already put Jones on notice, announcing his two-year contract – which goes through to mid-2021 – will be terminated if he mis-steps again. Tate, however, wanted to re-assure advertisers the broadcaster is trying to fix the problem, not just waiting for it to happen again.

“To that end, we have already commenced, with Alan’s encouragement and support, a full review of the 2GB/ 4BC Breakfast Show’s content, presentation and controls, with a specific focus on audience/ third-party engagement. That review will extend into all 2GB/ 4BC programs.”

Jones ‘supports the review’

Tate said the Ardern incident brought into sharp focus the need for all Macquarie Media broadcasters to ensure that the words they use, and the debates they engage with, are respectful and reflect the standards expected by today’s listeners, clients and the wider community.

“Our Macquarie stations and presenters will of course continue to initiate and encourage debate on important issues and argue passionately for the causes, values and actions in which we and our audiences believe. But we must do so in a language and tone that all contemporary Australia finds acceptable,” he wrote.

Tate concluded the letter with an apology and an offer: “I will close by apologising sincerely, on behalf of Macquarie and Alan, for any disruption caused to your company as a result of remarks made by him. Alan and I are happy to talk and meet with as many of our advertisers as possible over the next two months to hear your views on how we can best serve your business, but in the meantime, I would be very interested to hear any comments or thoughts which can help us do that.”

Mumbrella understands over 100 brands have either pulled advertising from the program, or taken a public stance saying they will not place money with the station.

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.

The full letter can be seen below.

Click to enlarge


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