The Macquarie Radio Network has suspended all advertising on Alan Jones’ 2GB breakfast show as the fallout continues from Jones’ comments that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father ”died of shame”.
More than 70 companies have already pulled advertising from Jones’s breakfast radio show, including Freedom Furniture, Mercedes-Benz, Challenger and Woolworths.
Announcing the suspension of advertising, Macquarie’s executive chairman Russell Tate said boycotts of advertisers as a result of Jones’ remarks had made it necessary for Macquarie to “call some time out”.
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”The avalanche of telephone, email and Facebook demands to our advertisers to ‘boycott’ the Alan Jones Breakfast Show, and the threats to destroy their businesses if they don’t comply, are coming almost entirely from people who do not listen to Alan Jones or 2GB at all – probably never have done and never will,” Tate said.
He criticised the boycott of advertisers and said it was just making life difficult for staff of companies whose “crime” was advertising on Sydney’s highest rating breakfast show.
“What we are seeing here is 21st century censorship, via cyber-bullying,” Tate said.
“We have taken this unprecedented decision to suspend advertising in the Alan Jones Breakfast Show until further notice so that all of our advertisers are on an equal footing, can regroup and discuss with us the way forward and how we together deal with these attempts to damage great Australian businesses.”
Tate described the pressure being put on Macquarie advertisers as “totally unwarranted”.
“The decision obviously comes at a very significant short-term cost to MRN,” he said.
“It is an insignificant price to pay for our audience to be able to listen to what they choose to listen to, and for Australian companies to advertise where they choose to advertise.”
The move by Macquarie to suspend advertising follows reports yesterday that Mercedes-Benz Australia-Pacific has demanded that Jones return the black 2012 S-Class Mercedes given to him as part of his sponsorship deal, after the company stopped all radio advertising with 2GB.
Mumbrella reports Mercedes-Benz made the decision to pull its advertising before Jones’ comments about the Prime Minister but nevertheless Jones called the Mercedes-Benz executive who demanded the return of the car a “gutless wonder” on his show this morning.
The fallout has also extended to Woolworths executive Simon Berger who announced his resignation on Friday after it was revealed he donated a chaff bag to the Liberal Club dinner where Jones made the controversial comments.
Jones had signed a jacket made from the chaff bag, which was donated to the function, after previously saying on air that the Prime Minister should be put in a sack and dropped into the ocean.
However Bob Peters, of Global Media Analysis, told SmartCompany last week he did not think the crisis would prove to have any more impact than “a short-term blip”.
“It’s a controversial right wing comment and that panders exactly to Alan Jones’ audience and to the 2GB listeners,” Peters says.
Jones is no stranger to controversy and managed to bounce back from widespread public outcry after the cash for comment scandal and his involvement in the Cronulla riots.
“Look at what happened with Kyle Sandilands and the Austereo network, there was very little damage,” Peters says.
“It won’t stick.”