Australia’s media watchdog has opened a new investigation into recent comments by radio host Kyle Sandilands that a baby born with extra limbs was a “spider baby” and would have an unfair advantage at the Olympics.
It comes just weeks after the Australian Communications and Media Authority declared “decency” to be a condition of 2Day FM’s license. That followed a separate investigation into Sandilands’ attack on a female journalist last November, whom he called a “fat slag” and a “piece of shit” after she reviewed his television show unfavourably.
The latest incident occurred on the Kyle and Jackie O breakfast show on April 20, following a news story regarding successful surgery to remove limbs from a baby born in Pakistan with six legs …
NEWSREADER EMMA DUXBURY: Pakistan have successfully removed the extra limbs from a baby born with six legs.
KYLE: I saw this, I saw the picture of this baby.
JACKIE O: He had six legs!
KYLE: Spider baby!
EMMA: He apparently had a conjoined twin that never actually formed, so it was half the baby was on the other baby.
JACKIE O: But doesn’t that make four?
KYLE: I think the other twin had a few extra legs as well.
EMMA: They’re calling them legs but I think it was two misshapen arms and two misshapen legs.
JACKIE O: And where was this?
KYLE: All sticking out of the baby’s groin.
JACKIE O: No, no, no, what country?
EMMA: In Pakistan.
KYLE: Spider baby.
JACKIE O: Poor little thing.
KYLE: Imagine it going to the Olympics and you look next to you and there’s spider baby [makes spider noises]. And you think: I’ve got no chance. Trust me, being up against spider baby [makes high-pitched spider noises]. Oh there’s the flashing light [the flashing red light was introduced by Southern Cross Austereo when controversial material is discussed to encourage Sandilands to change the subject]. Babies might write a letter, I’d better shut up … [puts on high-pitched voice] ‘I’m a baby that also has a strange leg, so I took great offence.’
JACKIE O: Move on.
EMMA: Losing phone reception on a train will soon be a thing of the past. City Rail says it’s going to switch on tunnel reception in the CBD tunnel system by the middle of this year.
KYLE: [Continues to make high-pitched spider noises.]
EMMA: Turn your microphone off … I’m out … [Giggling.]
KYLE: Stop it girls. Come on, the show must go on.
EMMA: [Giggling.] I can’t, I’m done.
ACMA this morning confirmed to Crikey that an investigation has begun after a valid complaint was received following the April incident.
“We’re aware that ACMA is investigating the comments and that we’ll submit the responses required but we do not believe there is any substance to the complaint,” a spokesperson from Southern Cross Austereo told Crikey.
On May 16 the media watchdog handed down its final ruling on its last investigation into Sandliand’s “fat slag” comments, ruling they were “deeply derogatory and offensive, and amounted to a breach of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice 2011“. The commercial radio code states:
“All program content must not offend generally accepted standards of decency (for example, through the use of unjustified language), having regard to the demographic characteristics of the audience of the relevant program.”
As part the broadcaster’s repercussions for the incident, all content on 2Day FM must abide by general standards of decency or the station could lose its license.
As well as the warning light implemented by Austereo management, there is now a 30-second delay on the live show. Two trained censors listen to the Kyle and Jackie O show and flag any potential legal issues as they arise. These additional precautionary measures were implemented prior to ACMA’s May ruling.
The Kyle and Jackie O show wasn’t the only radio show to discuss “spider baby”, with The Fitzy & Wippa show on Sydney’s Nova also joking about it “being nicknamed the human centipede” and quipping “there’s your first ever 100 metre winner from Pakistan at the Olympics” (with a sound clip playing “six-legged baby!” ) and “there’s talk of a world tour but most airlines couldn’t promise the extra legs room”.