But pulls a punch on his bosses with an iron fist. The pack of journos gathered at the ACMA media conference were baying for the blood of Kyle Sandilands who had last November attacked one of their own calling her a number of things that ACMA has found she should never have been called. But Kyle was nowhere to be seen, leaving ACMA chairman Chris Chapman to patiently explain over and over that he has no jurisdiction over Sandilands, only the people who own the station at which he works.
Try as they might, the journos from the gossip pages could get no joy from Chapman. “What do you think of Sandilands?”, one ventured to ask him.
“My personal view of Mr Sandilands is irrelevant, my relationship is with the licensee,” answered Mr Chapman.
“Does that mean that Sandilands gets off scott free?” another asks (with some indignation this time.) Once again, all Chapman could do was re-iterate that ACMA has no power over individuals, only broadcast license holders. But when asked whether he wishes that ACMA had more power he hints that the lack of it has caused him some frustration over the years.
You could almost hear the word “bummer” from the tabloid press. There’s no fun, and not much of a story, in hunting down the “licensee” – in this case an entity called Today FM Sydney Pty Ltd. And who speaks for them? Only the readers of the financial press and specialist media publications like this one would know the name of Southern Cross Austereo CEO Rhys Holleran (left) let alone what he looks like.
radioinfo asked him what the tabloids wanted to know, “What then has Today FM Sydney Pty Ltd said to Kyle to pull him into line?” Mr Holleran told us, ‘We accept that (as the licence holder) we have a responsibility. Everyone just assumes that we have done nothing internally and that’s not correct. We don’t give a running commentary on discussions we have with any staff. That’s not fair to the staff members concerned.
“We have some 2,000 employees and Kyle’s a significant one of those. And we understand that there’s a lot of media interest around that too. But at the end of the day we are happy with the way the matter has been dealt with within our company.”
Having resigned themselves to the fact that Kyle himself won’t be jailed, pilloried or even fined millions of dollars, the tabloid columnists want to know what then is the grave punishment that will be meted out upon the licensee?
Looking ever the stern pedagogue, Mr Chapman explains that there will be “an additional licence condition” imposed upon the holder of licence 3032.
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Put simply, if Kyle or anyone else on the station says anything at any time over the next five years that’s anything like what he said last year, particularly if it is demeaning to females, then ACMA could suspend or even cancel 2Day’s broadcast licence.
Then to emphasise the all encompassing harshness of the condition Mr Chapman turns to a more colloquial phrase, saying “these new conditions will be in force 24/7/52/5.”
Already the licensee, through Mr Holleran, has indicated that, “It will pursue all available remedies to have the licence condition revoked.
“Our difficulty with the proposed licence condition is that terms such as ‘decency’, ‘demeaning’ and ‘undue emphasis on gender’ are broad and ambiguous and mean different things to different people. The ACMA has issued no guidance on the licence condition and in light of that, we consider the condition to be unworkable,” says Mr Holleran.