Alan Jones has escaped a charge of inciting his listeners to violence, after accusing a government department of behaving in a way “that leads people to murder”.
But he has been found guilty by the Australian Broadcasting and Media Authority, ACMA, of breaching two sections of the industry’s broadcasting code.
It’s the first time in ACMA’s history that such a judgement has been handed down. So Jones can be proud of setting a new benchmark.
In layman’s terms, Jones’s spray against the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) in December 2010 was judged by ACMA to be factually inaccurate and unbalanced.
The shockjock’s tirade was sparked off by a farmer whose life and business had been “destroyed” — according to Jones — by the department’s pursuit of him for illegally clearing native vegetation.
Jones’s version of events contained a number of factual accuracies, according to the complaint upheld by ACMA. It also failed to present “significant viewpoints” as is required under Section 2.2 (c) of the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice.
There has never been an adverse judgement under this section since it was introduced in 1993.
In addition to bending the facts and ignoring alternative views, Jones also played the man, as he so often does. He named an employee of DECC, whom he claimed was responsible, branded him “a turkey” several times, and advised him to “start checking the address of the nearest Centrelink office”. He then told his listeners, “this bloke who’s giving you grief, we’ll find out where he goes next”.
ACMA and Jones’s employer, radio station 2GB, are currently discussing what remedial action should be taken.
There are six similar complaints against Jones and 2GB still waiting in the rack, this time over his broadcasts on climate change. Expect more of the same in about 6 weeks time.