Alan Jones has called a Mercedes-Benz executive a "gutless wonder" after the company asked for the return of the broadcaster's sponsored car, while also describing an online campaign against him as "cyberbullying".
His employer, the Macquarie Radio Network, yesterday took the unprecedented step of suspending all advertising on Jones's breakfast show on 2GB, after a week of sustained pressure that has led to it losing more than 70 sponsors and advertisers.
The move is a response to a sustained campaign via social media and email targeting businesses that support the program.
It comes after Jones apologised for his comments that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father "died of shame".
This morning the promotions played during his program were for 2GB shows or for segments hosted by Jones.
Jones opened his show at 5.30am saying Australians have the right to boycott his show, but they don’t have the right to decide where companies can advertise.
"They do not have the right to interfere with that freedom of choice, or should not," he said.
"And they don’t have the right, or should not, have the right to attempt cyberbullying of people who listen to this program or advertise on it."
Jones said his comments about the Prime Minister had not been civilised, but he had apologised for what he said.
"These false petitions are anything but civilised. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
"This is, as I said, a forensic campaign based on petitioning businesses.
"Virtually jamming up emails, jamming up switchboards, trying any threatening tactic they can to make businesses cease to be associated with this program.
"They get hold of the sponsors, they provide a direct link to the complaints section and then you sit in front of a button and you go all day.
"Businesses have great difficulty doing business while withstanding that stuff, but they shouldn’t have to.
"If this is not illegal, it ought to be.
"As I said, if it happened anywhere else in society, this kind of bullying or harassment or intimidation or threatening conduct, the police would be called in.
"If it happened at a Rugby League grand final, if it happened at a restaurant, or a picture theatre, this behaviour would not be condoned."
Jones said much of what has been written about him "drips with hatred".
"We’ve spoken to advertisers, they want to stay.
"Some are annoyed at the decision we’ve taken not to advertise. The decision has one purpose and one purpose alone: give innocent, hard-working people employing advertisers a break from cyber-terrorism, a break from bullying, a break from harassment.
"If there are people out there who agree with this tactic of cyber-harassment and cyberbullying and cyber-terrorism, well put you hand up and say so.
"C’mon, find the guts to say so: 'I agree that this is a legitimate tactic'."
Listeners called the program throughout the morning and supporters' calls were put to air.
Jones also angrily denied that he had any contact with Mercedes-Benz over the car he drives.
The car company's corporate communications manager, David McCarthy, said Mercedes-Benz has demanded Jones return the black 2012 S-Class given to him as part of his sponsorship deal.
"A lot of people have bought Mercedes-Benz cars as a result of my advocacy. I’ve bought them myself.
"But to pretend that I’m out there as some kind of bludger driving a car that they gave to me and ‘we want it back’ and 'if we don’t get it back', says this bloke McCarthy, 'then we’ll be the first person to come along and we’ll repossess it by the end of the month'.
"I repeat: these people ended a contract with 2GB, the contract had nothing at all to do with me.
"The contract provided that we advertised their product on this program, which we did. They got very significant benefit from the product and they provided a vehicle.
"Honestly, how many untruths can be told in order to achieve some kind of advantage?"