Departing 2GB radio host Alan Jones has been ordered to make an on-air correction for comments about climate change and Jacinda Ardern.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found Jones, and the radio station, breached broadcasting rules for comments in August 2019, including Jones’ suggestion that Prime Minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down [the New Zealand PM’s] throat”.
Jones also said he hoped Mr Morrison “gets tough here with a few backhanders”, and “I hope he goes for the throat” when meeting Ms Ardern at the Pacific Islands Forum.
The statements sparked an outcry, and the media regulator received more than 125 complaints.
- Read the ACMA’s full report here
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the comments were not appropriate for public radio broadcasting in today’s Australia.
“The repeated use of violent metaphors by Mr Jones and his apparent encouragement of aggressive silencing of Ms Ardern was highly offensive and did not meet contemporary community expectations,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“This was evident in the public display of outrage from the community, actions by advertisers and actions by then chairman of Macquarie Media, who publicly stated any recurrence of this type of comment would result in the termination of Mr Jones’ contract.”
Jones also apologised on air later that day, following it up with an on-air clarification the next day and a written apology to Ms Ardern. 2GB also told the ACMA it had counselled Jones.
“Acknowledging that the broadcast had caused offence to many in the community, 2GB did not oppose ACMA’s breach finding in relation to decency,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“Given the imminent retirement of Mr Jones from 2GB and the actions taken by Macquarie Media and Mr Jones at the time, the ACMA is not taking further action against the licensee for breach of the decency rules.”
Last week, Jones announced his retirement from radio after 35 years, citing health concerns. He will front his last show on May 29.
The ACMA also found there were errors in a 2GB segment about climate change policy.
They included a claim by Jones that biomass is a fossil fuel, and the incorrect presentation of figures relating to Australia’s and New Zealand’s percentage of energy use from solar and wind. The ACMA said the comparisons were not based on like-for-like data.
Ms O’Loughlin said broadcasters had a responsibility under their industry code to use reasonable efforts to ensure they presented accurate facts.
“The factual error and inconsistent information were used to incorrectly portray that Australia generates more of its energy from renewables than New Zealand,” she said.
As well as the Jones’ on-air correction, 2GB will incorporate the investigation findings into staff training.