Just a few days ago Alan Jones announced his impending retirement.
Today the ACMA announced the findings of its investigation into Jones’ breaches of decency and accuracy, coming down against Jones and the new licensee of 2GB, Nine Entertainment.
Nine Entertainment, which now holds the licence for Harbour Radio, had the Preliminary Investigation Report since December 2019.
The ACMA always provides licensees with opportunities to comment prior to reaching a finding. It is normally two weeks, but in this case, due to the Christmas break, additional time to respond was requested by the licensee. After responses in January and April, the ACMA made its final determination.
An ACMA spokesperson has told radioinfo: “In this case, the final findings did not change from the preliminary view.”
The timing was exquisite because, with Jones having already quit, the ACMA decided not to proceed with issuing penalties.
In her announcement the ACMA chair made reference to previous public undertakings (following the Ardern incident) by then Harbour Radio chairman Russell Tate, that Jones would be sacked if it happened again.
While the Ardern finding by the ACMA was not new for Nine Entertainment, and not a reason to break Jones’ contract, which was signed after the incident occurred, the other element of the complaint signals a more serious area of danger for the new owners, accuracy.
In relation to accuracy, the ACMA’s investigation found a number of statements made in a segment about climate change policy were not accurate. Jones addressed these today in his on air statement.
While the accuracy issue was already dealt with in relation to climate change, there may soon be another accuracy issue looming in relating to Jones’ recent stance on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ACMA has confirmed to radioinfo that it already has received two complaints about his comments on the Corona Virus pandemic. Under the co-regulatory system, the ACMA has told radioinfo it “will refer the complainants to the broadcaster in the first instance. If the complainant does not receive a response from the broadcaster within 60 days, or is not satisfied with the response, they may refer their complaint to the ACMA.”
The ACMA deals only with the licensee not the talent. It is the broadcaster that is responsible for the actions of its talent. Only after complaints have been dealt with by the licensee can they be officially escalated to the regulator.
An ACMA spokesperson has told radioinfo: “We have not yet received any complaints that have returned from the broadcaster.”
With Jones retiring at the end of this month, he will not likely have to make any more statements as a result of ACMA investigations, but the licensee (Nine Entertainment, owner of Harbour Radio) may still have to deal with any adverse findings about Jones’ accuracy even after he is gone.
Related report: Fordham preps for breakfast at Alan’s home studio during his week off, and click Alan Jones in the tag cloud below to read more about 2GB’s retiring breakfast presenter.