Lucky for Kyle, it’s a Man’s World

Staff Writer


Wendy Harmer is an author, journalist, and editor-in-chief of The Hoopla website

You want to know what I hear about Kyle Sandilands?

Austereo programmers are well aware that his antics are dragging 2DAY-FM through the mud, but their private worry is: “Who have we got to replace him?”

Although, after yesterday’s ratings saw his show dip below 10 percent, they may be having an urgent look about.

I’ve always defended Kyle as being technically, a good broadcaster – fearless, feisty and fast on his feet. Despite his failings, in no way do I condone the very personal and hurtful bashing he or Jackie O have had to endure.

As for the things Kyle’s been saying about me on air lately? It’s been appalling, all round.

However, while we’re all agreed that “we need to talk about Kyle”, 2DAY-FM management has been asleep at the wheel.

They know he delivers car crash radio. They actively encourage him to drive faster. But, like all shock jocks, he needs an air bag.

That’s not only a decent delay button (at last) but, more to the point, the guidance of decent men who hold their audience of young women in the highest regard.

(And FM programmers are men. There are only three women in senior programming roles in FM radio across the nation.)

A senior radio insider told me that if the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) – which yesterday imposed a new licence condition on Austereo that prohibits it from broadcasting “indecent content or content that demeans women or girls” – was seriously armed by the government it would have imposed a $500,000 fine on the station.

ACMA has warned 2DAY-FM that a repeat of offences which have been deemed to be “deeply derogatory and offensive” would see the station facing a suspension or cancellation of its broadcasting licence.

They have said there may be more to come if the station does not uphold “decency”.

Southern Cross Austereo released a statement saying that the conditions imposed on it are “unworkable”. The CEO, Rhys Holleran said he would do everything he can to stop the new checks and balances.In an article in the SMH by Julian Lee, lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons, Katrina Rathie said: ”It shows a loophole. Kyle dodges a bullet and gets off scot-free and 2DayFM gets a lashing with a feather.

”[The authority's] enforcement powers are virtually zero. It has no power to discipline presenters and I think the court of public opinion would want that.”

Heard of a gummy shark? As it stands, that’s ACMA. Can’t really blame the chairman, Chris Chapman. Seems he’s as frustrated as the rest of us.

Interesting, isn’t it, that Jason Akermanis (left) was kicked off air because he called the late, great AFL sporting champion Jim Stynes “nasty” but that Kyle remains on air after his tirade against News Limited journalist Alison Stephenson: “You’re a piece of shit. You’re a bullshit artist, girl. You should be fired from your job… Watch your mouth or I’ll hunt you down.”

The sacking of Akermanis was delivered by the radio station. Not a government authority. Take note.

Women Australia-wide are watching this saga with great interest. As consumers we will have the last say.

In the past 24 hours I have heard arguments from radio blokes who should know better:

“In seven years of broadcasting, 300 days a year, 3 hours a day, Kyle has crossed the line just four times. That’s a pretty good record.”

“Would it have been different if Kyle had slagged off a bloke?”

“What is ACMA going to do to us? They’ve never suspended anyone or changed anything. Nothing changes.”

“There are other broadcasters who are worse. Has anyone looked at Triple J? And Twitter and Facebook? Forget it. The horse has bolted.”

“And what about those AM guys? They get away with murder!”

The radio industry had better lift its game, and fast. We won’t hunt you down. We’ll just turn you off.

BTW: There is one very interesting development in the ACMA ruling. From now on, if you have a complaint about this, you need not go to the station, but can complain instead directly to ACMA here. Chairman Chris Chapman promises he will be listening.


Wendy Harmer is an author, journalist, and editor-in-chief of The Hoopla website, which you can see here.

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