Four months ago, live on 2DAY FM, breakfast radio’s out and proud bad boy Kyle Sandilands verbally attacked News Limited online journalist Alison Stephenson. For commenting on his new poorly rating television show A Night with the Stars, Sandilands let forth with:
Fat slag, bitch, troll, ugly, piece of shit, not much titty.
“Watch your mouth girl, or I will hunt you down”, he threatened.
There was an outcry. A petition at Change.org set up by Melbourne law graduate Emily Hehir, called on sponsors to pull their advertising from the Kyle and Jackie O show, which provided a platform for “bullying, abuse, and misogyny’.
To date 34,525 people have signed. More than 100 sponsors have pulled out, losing Southern Cross Austereo an estimated $10 million.
On Tuesday, after a two month investigation, The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) found Sandilands comments breached the commercial radio industry’s code of practice.
“The Authority found the comments by Mr Sandilands deeply derogatory and offensive and in all the circumstances a licence condition is the appropriate response,” said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman.
So what is Sandiland’s penalty for intimidation and harassment? Nothing. He gets a slap with a wet lettuce leaf.
Sandilands pays no personal cost for threatening Stephenson.
As comedian Chas Licciardello tweeted: “Ouch! Kyle’s punishment for breaching ACMA standards? He’s now banned from breaching ACMA standards! This changes everything!”
While powerless to issue fines or penalties, ACMA has imposed a licence condition on 2DAY FM, which means that for the next five years the station can’t broadcast any indecent content demeaning to women and girls. (I’m not sure what happens after five years). If it does it could have its broadcasting licence suspended or cancelled.
But Southern Cross Austereo bosses have taken affront, saying they will fight it.
Sandilands may have shown “a flagrant disregard” for the guidelines on the portrayal of women on commercial radio. But he’s also a cash cow for the network. And you wouldn’t want to let decency get in the way of that.
Avoiding content that “offends generally-accepted standards of decency, demeans or is likely to demean women or girls, places undue emphasis on gender, uses overt sexual references in relation to a woman’s physical characteristics, and/or condones or incites violence against women” is “onerous” and “unworkable” according to Southern Cross Chief Executive Rhys Holleran.
Quick, get this guy a copy of Sexism for Dummies.
Offending women and minorities seems to come with the job. Just ask Kyle and Jackie O’s guest and talent producer Bruno Bouchet, who was exposed recently for a vulgar comments on a personal website (since removed) called Brunolovesboobs.org.
The blog included a photograph of a man dressed as a giant, used sanitary napkin. His site also included racist comments including against US President Obama.
The Sack Vile Kyle blogspot contains a history of Sandiland’s appalling behaviour from 2000 to the present. Remember the shocking 2009 incident with the 14-year-old girl strapped to a lie detector test and interrogated about her sexual history? She revealed she had been raped.
Reading this history you can’t help wonder why he still has a job and how his employers have the gall to fight a ruling that says he needs to stop vilifying women.
It doesn’t seem to matter what Sandiland’s does, the rewards keep flowing. Soon he will be promoted a judge on Channel 7’s Australia’s Got Talent. Female contestants be warned.
Austereo likes to trumpet its popularity among young women listeners. Encouraging them to accept their own objectification and messages which contribute to the second class status of women is not doing them or anyone else any favours.
Young male listeners receive a message that this is all done in the name of entertainment: that violence against women is just a bit of fun and we should all laugh along. And that if you engage in it you will attract fame and fortune.
The mistreatment of women and girls is a blight on our country. Austereo and Sandilands are contributing to this. No more excuses. It needs to stop.
As published in the Sunday Herald Sun April 1, 2012