The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found radio presenter Kyle Sandilands breached radio code of practice last year when he labelled News Limited journalist Alison Stephenson a “piece of shit” following her negative report of his TV show, A Night with the Stars.
The media authority found the comments he made were derogatory and said steps were being taken to impose new licence conditions on Sandliland’s employer, 2Day FM.
“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.
In its findings, ACMA said the remarks breached the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice 2011.
But Mr Chapman said the ACMA found the comments did not breach the code prohibition on inciting serious contempt or severe ridicule on the grounds of gender.
“Although the comments conveyed hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule on the grounds of gender, they were not considered likely to incite those feelings in others,” he said.
“From now on Sandilands will be prevented from broadcasting any material that is likely to demean women or girls or face a loss of licence,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
In January, ACMA announced it would investigate Sandilands’ conduct – saying it was acting on complaints about the radio host.
Late last year, Sandilands sparked controversy when he said of News Limited journalist Alison Stephenson:
“You’re a piece of shit. This low thing, Alison Stephenson, deputy editor of news.com.au online. You’re supposed to be impartial, you little troll…. You’re a bullshit artist, girl. You should be fired from your job… Watch your mouth or I’ll hunt you down.” He also called Ms Stephenson a “fat bitter thing” and attacked her hairstyle and breast size.
The audio is here if you want to hear it yourself.
Following his comments, an online petition was launched pressuring sponsors of Kyle’s radio show to pull their support.
At the time, the organiser of the petition Emily Hehir wrote for Mamamia about what she was doing. Here’s what she had to say:
We must make it clear to companies who promote and associate with these archaic attitudes that we won’t stand for it. This week I joined with over 26,000 others, calling on advertisers to boycott the Kyle and Jackie O show as long as it provided a platform for bullying, abuse and misogyny. The extraordinary public reaction to the petition I created – and the ensuing exodus of advertisers – shows that it will be harder and harder for brands to get away with perpetuating the lowest common denominator.
We must also start conversations that promote the infinite ways of being a “success” – and there are so many ways to create and promote these authentic narratives that don’t rely on stereotypes. We can start by encouraging compassion: towards ourselves and each other. We are so indoctrinated into criticising women that it is almost subconscious. Foster the beauty of diversity, nuance and imperfection in whatever way you can. The more it is honoured the more legitimacy it will have in our society.
We must also challenge the mainstream media to do better. Show us women who are courageous or smart, and not just as the subplot to their physical beauty. We have a responsibility to demand more from the media – if not for ourselves then for the younger women watching and listening – and challenge the attitudes that underpin the content on our airwaves. Attitudes that lead to a man thinking it is legitimate to pass judgment on national radio on the worth of a woman’s opinion based on her ‘titty’.
You can read the full post here.
After the petition, Mazda, Telstra, Crazy John’s, Harvey Norman, Holden, retail giant The Good Guys, Blackmores, Fantastic Furniture, Vodafone and Medibank pulled their sponsorship.
His comments are now believed to have cost his employer, Southern Cross Austereo, up to $10milion in sponsorship.
Kyle later apologised for his actions. In an open letter, he said:
“I took my remarks too far and for that – and the offence caused to [journalist] Alison Stephenson and those exposed to my comments – I sincerely apologise,” he said.
“I regret the impact this has had on our clients and our hard-working staff, who have had to weather a storm of criticism in the media and on social networks.”
You can read more here.
Following the ACMA ruling, media commentator Chas Licciardello tweeted:
What do you think?