Comment from Peter Saxon
What does radio management call a man who’s won 214 surveys in a row? Sir!
Jones is 2GB’s rainmaker, responsible for attracting millions of dollars of revenue through his breakfast show and for starting each day with a huge audience that sets up a springboard for every subsequent shift. For that he is feted like a rock star by management, ready to cater to his every whim. But there’s a limit to what they’ll put up with.
Call them fickle, if you will, but they love it when the money’s rolling in and hate it when they have to pay out. That’s management for you!
And boy did they hate it when a Queensland court ruled against Jones and 2GB in a recent defamation case and awarded the plaintiffs, the Wagner family, $3.7 million for Jones’ persistent campaign against them, without sufficient evidence to back up his claims. With costs, yet to be awarded, the final payout could be double or more.
According to a report in the Australian, the 2GB board of directors was so unhappy with the outcome, they took the rare step of having a ‘word’ with Mr Jones. We can only imagine the dressing down that took place, ‘Now look here, old chap, you can’t go around accusing people of murder when you don’t have a skerrick of evidence. It simply won’t do’ Not when it costs $3.7 million, no.
Worse still, they’ve reportedly insisted that Jones pay a good chunk of the damages bill out of his own pocket.
They were also unhappy with the way that Jones treated Opera House GM, Louise Herron on air and threatened her with her job because she wouldn’t accede to using the Opera House sails for horse racing adverts. MacRadio CEO, Adam Lang agreed with a comment from the floor of a recent shareholders meeting that the interview was “unbecoming and inappropriate.”
An article in the SMH suggests after the Fairfax / Nine merger is completed, with Nine the major shareholder, they may not hold Alan Jones in the same esteem as his current employer has done and speculated whether his contract which is up for review next year will be renewed.
He has done much good in his career… championed many worthy causes. But he’s also hurt some people along the way, threatened them with their jobs, without authority to do so, or carelessly tarnished their reputations.
In his own defence, Alan Jones sees himself as an entertainer, not a journlist and therefore, presumably, not bound by the same standards of fact checking. In 2011, he told Tim Burrowes at Mumbrella, “It’s called the Alan Jones show. Much of my stuff is opinion. I’m a broadcaster. I don’t pretend to be a journalist and I don’t know what that means anyway – they’ve got a certificate or something.”
“If those opinions lack validity or if those opinions are extreme or if they are overly provocative, they won’t listen. I’ve stood the test of time.”
In 2012, following innacurate statements he made about carbon dioxide emissions, the ACMA found that he’d breached the commercial radio codes of practice and orderd 2GB to ensure that he undertake journalistic training on “factual accuracy and significant viewpoints.”
It seems he prefers to give lectures than take them.
When he co-opted the Wagners as fodder for his entertaining breakfast show, Jones was unaware of the enormous ‘talent fees’ they would eventually extract for the part they played. Perhaps his share of the $3.7 million will get his attention where the ACMA and their forced jounalistic lectures failed.
Regardless of what mere mortals may think or engineer, Alan Jones’ career going forward could well be determined by mother nature. You don’t need 2GB “insiders” to whisper that his health is deteriorating. Regular listeners are aware that he’s been spending more and more time away from the mic and in hospital beds. Only the other day he was rushed off to Emergency suffering severe back pain. This, after undergoing major back surgery earlier this year.
Of course, we wish Mr Jones a speedy recovery. The latest prognosis is that he could be back on air by Monday.