The head of a major regional radio network says there are no plans to dump embattled broadcaster Alan Jones from its line-up.
Stations in Albury and Deniliquin today announced plans to pull the plug on the Alan Jones Breakfast Show after it was revealed the Sydney shock-jock claimed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father died “of shame”.
But Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Rhys Holleran today told Fairfax Regional Media he had no plans to follow suit unless listeners demanded it.
“I know Alan Jones is a controversial broadcaster and nobody is agreeing with any of the comments…but he didn’t say them on air on our radio stations, he said them in another capacity,” Mr Holleran said.
“At this point in time I’m fairly relaxed about it but that doesn’t mean I agree with his comments.”
Jones enjoys a strong following in dozens of conservative towns and cities in rural and regional NSW and Queensland.
In NSW, his show is broadcast in Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, Goulburn, Orange, Lithgow, Port Macquarie, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Cooma and Mildura.
It is also heard in Mareeba, Cairns, Charters Towers, Townsville, Innisfail, Longreach, Mackay, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Moreton Bay and Mt Gambier.
A one-hour version of the program runs on eight Southern Cross Austereo stations in rural NSW and Queensland, Mr Holleran said.
The Jones show has long been “well received” in the communities it is aired in, Mr Holleran added.
He said media companies faced new challenges in gauging the extent of any listener backlash, which will become evident once Jones returns to their airwaves on Tuesday.
“If the listeners have a genuine reaction and don’t want the program on, then the program won’t be there,” Mr Holleran said.
“But the difficulty you have in this day in age is trying to distil between who are the real listeners and who are the people that purport to be listeners on social media sites. This is a very real problem for sensible people.
“We tend to react to the real listeners, not the ones that purport to be.
“The dimensions of our business I think have probably changed in recent years. Our advertisers are important, our listeners are very important and we’ve got people who aren’t our listeners becoming increasingly a voice in our business.
“I think at the end of the day we’re there to serve the people that listen to us…and the broadcasting codes are there to make sure we do that.”
Albury radio station 2AY dumped Alan Jones from its line-up today following a flood of negative feedback from listeners.
2AY boss Mark Taylor said the response from listeners made the decision simple and it would not be revisited.
An online petition for calling for Jones to be sacked has so far attracted 28,000 signatures in less than 48 hours.