As speculation about Alan Jones’ future at 2GB ramps up, his mates in the industry have lined up to recommend his contract be renewed.
Jones’ contract is up in a few months, and the question of whether it would be renewed has been debated since last year. He’s reportedly negotiating with other outlets including News Corp-owned Sky News.
John Singleton — a major shareholder in 2GB’s owner, Macquarie Media — gave an interview to The Daily Telegraph today, saying he would’ve already re-signed the contract if it were up to him. “He’s the one reason they are number one,” Singleton said.
In the Tele’s stablemate The Australian, Sky News after dark host and former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson is also singing Jones’ praises today. Richo says that 2GB “needs” Jones, and has praised Jones’ energy and generosity: “All I can say to his detractors is that if there was no place for Jones in Sydney radio, the media would be much poorer for his absence”.
While Jones’ ratings are still top, The Australian reports that Macquarie’s new majority owner Nine is conscious of keeping costs down (cited as the reason for letting Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt leave his own show on the network). Jones’ advocates have been citing the advertising dollars he brings in to the network as a reason to have him stay, but he’s also been a great cost to the network. Last year a Queensland court ordered a record defamation payout of $3.75 million over comments Jones made about the 2011 Queensland floods.
One of the few options Jones would have, if he were to continue his career in broadcasting, would be to extend his work at Sky News. He already hosts a weekly program on the channel’s after dark lineup. There are few, if any, other radio or television stations that would have the budget, audience or inclination for Jones’ style.
That style, which has been described as “bullying”, is what prompted an apology to Sydney Opera House boss Louise Herron last year after Macquarie Media bosses reportedly disciplined him. That debacle came around the same time as Jones used the n-word on-air while discussing the Liberal leadership. On Sky, he had to issue another apology last month to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for describing him as a “traitor to the nation” for endorsing former Liberal MP Julia Banks as an independent.
Turnbull’s previous interactions with Jones may have inspired current NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley’s own run-in on 2GB last week. Turnbull had said he would not “take dictation” from Jones during an interview, while Daley last week said he’d sack Jones and the rest of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust board over the state political stadiums issue.
Macquarie Media reportedly has until Wednesday to tell Jones if it wants to negotiate on his new contract.