Indigenous station comes under fire for shock jock air time

BY AMY MCQUIREMAY 4, 2011

 Originally published in Tracker Magazine

Shock-jock Alan Jones…. his radio program is being broadcast into remote Aboriginal communities around the nation.

NATIONAL, May 4, 2011: An Indigenous community radio station, which broadcasts into 31 Aboriginal communities, says it has been forced to run conservative Sydney shock jock Alan Jones for the past two years because of a lack of funding for black broadcasting.

The Townsville-based 4K1G has been running Alan Jones at 11 am on weekdays for the past two years.

It also runs Ray Hadley in the 10-11 am slot on weekdays.

That’s 10 hours of conservative talkback each week, and it is the only station in the city that a listener can tune in to both radio hosts.

Alan Jones is also syndicated to a number of community broadcasters around the country, with Territory FM in Darwin, also being drawn into the debate about whether he should have a spot on its airwaves.

4K1G General Manager, Ms Linda Saltner, acknowledged the broadcasting of Jones was not an ideal situation, but the decision was ultimately a financial one, based on the need to attract sponsorship.

She also says that she has just recently received the all clear to pull Alan Jones and Ray Hadley. But there was no word on when this will happen.

“Any black media will tell you, it’s not the easiest thing to sell sponsorship for black radio,” she said.

“That’s the country we live in. We have to try and create a balance and move forward the best way we can.

“… It’s not a matter of filling the hours. It’s a matter of generating revenue.”

Ms Saltner said funding for remote broadcasters had been cut, making it hard for stations to keep even the electricity on.

“It’s very hard for black media to be sustainable, especially when every media station in this whole country is struggling to survive.

“Everything is inflating, yet all our funding is cut. At the end of the day, people have got to survive.

“You can ask any Indigenous media station, we are all struggling. We need to have better access to funding.

“No black media can say we get (sufficient) funding and resources to be operational. We’re always trying to generate sponsorship.

Ms Saltner says that in that two years, they have never received a complaint about the airing of Jones.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Tracker commercial broadcasters could be aired on community radio as long as content was tagged as a sponsorship and such arrangement complied with licensing conditions.

ACMA said it could not determine any possible licensing breach unless it was able to act on a complaint. It had received no complaint about the situation.

But the General Manager of Sydney community radio station, 2SER, Mr Anthony Dockill, said he was shocked to hear an Aboriginal radio station was showcasing views like those regularly expressed by Jones.

“I was made aware of 4K1G after I became aware of two other community radio stations running Alan Jones,” Mr Dockill told Tracker.

“It was surprising to me when I heard of those two stations, but it shocked me when I heard an Indigenous station was running them,” he added. “I can’t see how the material that Hadley and Jones regularly cover is of interest to those communities.”

Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) general manager, Kath Letch also told Tracker that some community stations were reliant on commercial programs due to finances.

“Programming and content is clearly a decision for each individual community broadcasting station and station’s have their own structures and policies for reaching those decisions,” Ms Letch told Tracker.

“That said, I’m not convinced the Alan Jones program aligns well with the primary objectives or guiding principles of community broadcasting.

“It’s very successful in the context of commercial radio of course, but community broadcasters play a different role, both in broadcasting and in their relationship with their local communities.

“Unfortunately the community broadcasting sector has very limited funding support and this can increase the reliance on networked programs in some instances.”

Mr Dockill said he did not consider the need to generate sponsorship sufficient justification for retaining Alan Jones.

“Community stations need to stay on air and they need to raise money,” he said. “But the flip-side is the community station can’t make programming decisions based on commercial grounds.”

 

ALAN JONES AND THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY

  • 1992: “[Australians are] getting no say when you [Aboriginal people] say this is your nation, it’s not, it’s Australia’s nation… They [average Australians] are being asked to pay taxes to fund people who are seeking title to productive land to which they’ve made no contribution to its productivity”. – Alan Jones in an on-air clash with prominent Aboriginal activist Charlie Perkins.
  • 1997: The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) lodges defamation papers against Jones in the Supreme Court over a broadcast he made about a successful native title claim at Crescent Head by Mary-Lou Buck on behalf of the Dunghutti people.
  • 1998: The Supreme Court found Jones had defamed prominent Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson over a series of broadcasts in which he alleged Mr Dodson had overcharged for organising  a conference and was exploiting his Aboriginality.
  • 2000:  Jones is ordered to apologise to Aboriginal people throughout NSW by the NSW Administration Decisions Tribunal after it found he had racially vilified an Aboriginal woman who had won a case after she was discriminated against by a Dubbo real estate agent. Later in the year, Jones won an appeal due to a legal technicality.

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