Yesterday ACMA chairman Chris Chapman announced that the regulatory body had “begun formal steps to impose a second licence condition on broadcaster 2DAY FM Sydney which would prohibit the radio station from broadcasting indecent content  and content that demeans women or girls.”

To recap — after a News Limited online journalist, Alison Stephenson, had written critically about his failed foray into television, 2DAY FM’s Kyle Sandilands called her a “fat slag”, a “bullshit artist”, a “little troll” and a “piece of shit”. He then went on to criticise her hair, clothes and bre-sts, and to tell Stephenson that “you should be fired from your job”.

As a result, advertisers deserted the program in droves. Listeners, on the other hand …

As Glenn Dyer points out today, Sandilands and Jackie O saw their share fall 1.1 points in the first radio ratings in February. Their share fell a further 0.4 points in survey two, out this morning. Their share has dropped from 11.2 in the final survey of 2011 to 9.7% in the latest results. They are now running third in breakfast behind 2GB’s Alan Jones (14.2) and Adam Spencer (10.4) on ABC 702.

But — and this is important — they remain dominant in the commercial breakfast stations broadcasting to younger listeners. These stations include Nova, 2MMM, Mix, WSFM and Sydney’s 95.3.

Who are these young listeners? Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Rhys Holleran said in a statement this morning:

“2Day FM’s core audience is women, predominantly young women … 2Day FM has built its significant audience over the past decade by broadcasting programs which appeal to women and their interests in a relevant and entertaining way.”

Sandilands is not an entity unto himself. Let’s not forget the producer of the program who failed to use the 10-second crash button. And Kyle’s co-host, arguably the most powerful woman on air in the country, who giggled in response.

Kyle’s comments cut to the core of the internal FM radio culture towards women. Well, let’s just say radio. Wendy Harmer told Crikey recently, women are “… everywhere but they’re not on the AM dial and more to the point they’re not in management in either AM or FM radio.”

At 2Day FM, they might be in the studio but when a man receives a lap dance at his office birthday party, as a gift from his female newsreader, or encourages a female intern to strip naked on a street corner, there’s something seriously wrong with the station’s attitude towards women. Not that that’s set to change.

Young women listen to this show. And here’s the thing — they’re not complaining and they’re not turning off.

The ACMA penalty, which David Salter in Crikey today equates to a slap care of a limp lettuce leaf,  includes a provision that 2Day must implement a training program for staff and contractors in relation to the proposed conditions. Somehow we doubt that’ll get taken seriously. As Holleran pointed out in his statement, ‘”our difficulty with the proposed licence condition is that terms such as ‘decency’, ‘demeaning’ and ‘undue emphasis on gender’ are broad and ambiguous and mean different things to different people.’”

Just ask Bruno.

Correction: In the original version of this editorial, it was asserted that yesterday’s ACMA press conference was the first to be held in six years. That assertion was incorrect. ACMA advises that the last formal  “press conference” was the release of their Reconnect  the Customer Report mid last year. The copy has been amended.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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