‘Racially charged phrase’: 2GB breaches decency requirements

• The station released an apology within hours of the broadcast

Harbour Radio Pty Ltd – the licensee of radio station 2GB – breached the Commercial Radio Code of Practice in an Alan Jones Breakfast Show segment broadcast on 23 August 2018, reports The ACMA.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation examined Alan Jones’s use of a racially charged phrase and found it offended against generally accepted standards of decency.

“The phrase used by Jones has not been acceptable as part of everyday speech in Australia for some time and does not belong on our airwaves,’ said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

Numerous complaints were made to the ACMA about the 2GB broadcast and the fact that it was not the first time Jones had used the phrase on air.

The station released an apology within hours of the broadcast and Jones provided an on-air apology the next day in which he acknowledged the phrase was offensive and not appropriate for the broadcast.

2GB responded to complainants acknowledging that the phrase should not have been broadcast. As a result of the ACMA’s investigation, 2GB management has agreed the phrase will not be used on-air again.

The ACMA considers these have been appropriate responses by the licensee to this breach under the co-regulatory framework for commercial broadcasting.

The ACMA did not find a breach of the likely incitement of “hatred” or “serious contempt” or “severe ridicule”. Although the licensee broadcast a phrase widely considered racist, the ACMA did not consider that the high threshold test of incitement was met, as required for a breach of this provision.

The ACMA notes that the time taken to complete this investigation has been longer than preferable. This was a result of the licensee requiring additional time to respond to the ACMA’s enquiries due to the availability of its presenter.

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