A defiant 2GB boss has refused to distance himself from Alan Jones despite the mass walk out of major advertisers in response to the broadcaster's fudged apology to Julia Gillard on Sunday.
Asked for his response to the desertion of advertisers and sponsors from the station, Russell Tate, the chief executive of 2GB's owner Macquarie Radio Network, said: "When there's a response it will be between me and my sales team and our individual advertisers. The relationship with advertisers is a private one and a commercial one. There won't be a response, there isn't one and that's the end of it."
As of 6pm, major advertisers Coles, Woolworths, Dilmah (tea), ING Direct (banking), Bing Lee (electrical retailer), Freedom furniture, Lite 'n' Easy (diet foods), Mercedes-Benz, the Australian International Motor Show and Challenger (financial services) had publicly announced they were ending or suspending their relationships with either the Alan Jones program or 2GB.
(Some did not specifically buy advertising time on Jones's program, but rather time across the station, which meant their ads could appear on the show without their direct knowledge.)
Mr Tate said he wasn't sure how many advertisers had withdrawn. "I don't even know the extent of it, mate, to tell you the truth at the moment," he said.
"I'll be talking to my sales guys a bit later on. What our clients want to say about their relationship with 2GB is their business, obviously. What I want to say about our relationship with our clients to the media is nothing."
Asked if the situation had put strain on the relationship between the station and its star broadcaster, Mr Tate insisted "Alan will be back as planned on air tomorrow morning".
Asked if the 71-year-old could be expected to address the issue again, Mr Tate repeated "Alan will be back as planned on air tomorrow morning. I suggest you listen."
Meanwhile, the petition started by 22-year-old Sydney student and credit union worker Nicholas Lochner at 10pm on Saturday night has attracted more than 45,000 supporters. The petition, which calls on 2GB and advertisers to "immediately cease association with Alan Jones over 'died of shame' comment", was the fastest-growing petition in the 12 months the Australian arm of campaign platform change.org had been in operation.
Last year, the Vile Kyle campaign against Kyle Sandilands prompted a similar withdrawal of advertising support from Sydney station 2Day FM. According to change.org — which presents itself as a value-neutral host of campaigns — more than 60 advertisers bailed on Sandilands' breakfast show, at a cost to the network of an estimated $10 million.
However, many later returned.
In other developments, regional radio stations 2AY (Albury) and 2QN (Deniliquin) have dropped Alan Jones's program from their schedules, while campaigns have been launched to strip Jones of his Order of Australia medal and calling on Woolworths to sack Simon Berger, the manager of community and government relations who presented Jones with a jacket made of chaff bags at the Young Liberals fundraising dinner at which the broadcaster made his now infamous remark that the Prime Minister's father had "died of shame" over his daughter's "lies".
And it's goodnight from us ... what the sponsors said
Telstra on its Facebook page: We take matters like this very seriously in relation to public sentiment and the reputation of our brand. Telstra will not support the Alan Jones breakfast programme.
Coles on Facebook: We share your view that the comments made by Alan Jones were insensitive and we have taken action to suspend all advertising on Alan Jones' show. This suspension was effective as of 10am this morning.
Dilmah on Twitter: We reject as inappropriate Alan Jones' comment about the PM's late father. We are suspending support.
ING Direct on Twitter: ING has removed any advertising on the Alan Jones show on 2GB as of Monday 1 October.
Bing Lee on Facebook: Does not condone the comments made by Alan Jones and will be removing all advertising from his programs going forward.
Woolworths on its own Facebook page: To be clear, we do not and have not recently sponsored this program. From time to time we have had advertising during this program, however, this morning we have made a decision to suspend this advertising. We've acknowledged that a staff member, in a private capacity, attended the Young Liberals function where Mr Jones made some offensive comments about the Prime Minister. Woolworths in no way supports the comments made at that function. We thank you all for your feedback.
Mercedes-Benz on its Facebook page: Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific has instructed its dealers to cease any form of advertising on the Alan Jones show as our company does not condone such inappropriate comments.
Freedom on its Facebook page: In light of our customer feedback, and after internal review - we would like to confirm that Freedom has withdrawn advertising from 2GB.
Lite'n'Easy via Facebook: We do not support or endorse the comments made by Alan Jones and we are not a sponsor of 2GB or Alan Jones. Thanks to your post we have investigated this matter further and we have since discovered web based advertising that randomly runs across variance media outlets (such as 2GB). We are currently in the process of removing this web based activity.
Harvey Norman via Twitter: We value the feedback here and have escalated these comments to management.