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Issue #1568      10 October 2012


People power shocks shock jock

Alan Jones’ prime time morning show on Sydney radio station 2GB went to air on Monday without the usual advertising that the station relies on for income and profits. Several regional radio stations have discontinued broadcasting his program. Media sources estimate the loss of income from the Jones’ morning show is around $400,000 a week. The shock jock had gone too far this time, telling a Sydney University Liberal Club function that Prime Minister Gillard’s father had “died of shame” because of her political lies. The situation was compounded by Jones reportedly autographing a chaff bag jacket which was being auctioned.

The use of chaff bag was a reference to previous on-air remarks by Jones that Gillard should be put into a chaff bag and thrown out to sea. The only thing Jones appeared really sorry about was that his comments had been publicised by a journalist who had attended the function. His first apology even failed to say “sorry”. But the biggest shock for Liberal Party supporter Jones and 2GB was the strong response of the public which resulted in a number of advertisers pulling the plug on Jones or 2GB itself.

Jones, like a number of other red neck, radio shock jocks, has been going “too far” for too long with his ultra right-wing social and political commentaries, inciting racial hatred, fostering fear and hatred of Muslims, attacking trade union “bosses”, exposing “dole cheats”, and reactionary positions on other issues. His base, his audience, is predominantly working class. For various reasons they find security or comfort in his apparent support for their concerns in a big hostile world where they have little power or influence. They see him as a crusader taking on politicians, local councils, corporations (not their advertisers or sponsors of course) and others rorting the system or cheating the small guy.

From time to time Jones, John Laws, Kyle Sandilands (2Day FM) and other shock jocks are reported for racial vilification, sexist or other unacceptable comments that breach the broadcasting code or other legislation. Years later, after inquiries and tribunal challenges the radio station may end up paying a fine. For the offending shock jock and station, it is business as usual, no loss of licence, no sacking. In fact they often turn the situation around as an “attack on free speech” to rally support from their regular listeners.

The station is attempting to point the finger at those supporting responsible broadcasting. MRN Executive Chairman Russell Tate said, “the nature, tone and volume of the reaction to Jones’ remarks, and in particular the threats being made through social media to companies advertising in Jones’ program and the disruption being caused to their businesses, have made it necessary for MRN to call some ‘time out’.” He also made a reference to “21st Century censorship, via cyber-bullying.”

And while the likes of Jones appear to be a voice for the “little guy” in a big world where they feel powerless, the reality is their power base is the ruling class. A quick look at some of Jones’ advertisers and sponsors reveals the source of his power and whose interests he really serves. They included Woolworths, Freedom Furniture, ING Direct, Challenger Financial, Toyota, Mazda, Frod, Medibank, Bing Lee, Harvey Norman, Big W, Virgin, 7-eleven, McDonald’s, Slater and Gordon, and Mercedes-Benz.

But there is another source of power, and that is the people. In just a week, more than 100,000 people spoke out against the poison that Jones spreads, calling on advertisers to pull out and for 2GB to sack Jones. It was the power of the people, of consumers, and the fear of boycotts that resulted in more than 70 of Australia’s biggest brand names pulling the plug on his show or the radio station itself. and hundreds of other social networks campaigned using emails, facebook and other means, or contacted 2GB and advertisers directly.

It is important to keep the momentum going. This can be done through Facebook and Twitter petitions, endorsing actions, contacting 2GB and advertisers, warning advertisers they will be boycotted if they return and calling for Jones to be sacked. “Our campaign has always been about demanding a basic level of decency and humanity from our public figures. Something Jones has never shown,” said.

Next article – Stop Press – Chávez re-elected President of Venezuela

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