Macquarie Media — owner of Sydney talkback station 2GB and Brisbane’s 4BC — has spent decades defending its lineup of shock-jock radio hosts against public attacks and legal threats. But, in a new case, CEO Adam Lang is now the plaintiff. Lang has commenced defamation proceedings against The Daily Telegraph and its editor-at-large Matthew Benns over an article about the departure of former 2GB host Chris Smith.
The full-page story published in July called Lang a “smiling assassin”, suggesting he’d cost Macquarie Media millions of dollars through a series of “management bungles”. It cited Smith’s very public resignation, contract negotiations with broadcaster Alan Jones, the management of Sports Radio, and the Talking Lifestyle station which shut down after 18 months.
The article — which also scored a spot on the newspaper’s front page and was distributed widely online — said Lang had lost the respect of Jones, whose on-air blunders have lost 2GB hundreds of advertisers and accrued millions in defamation payouts. In a ruling last year, Jones and Macqaurie Media were ordered to pay a record $3.75 million in a defamation case taken up by Toowoomba’s Wagner family over comments broadcast by Jones on his breakfast program. It was just the latest in a long line of payouts and settlements in defamation suits against Jones, which total millions of dollars over his career.
According to the court documents seen by Mumbrella, Lang is arguing that the article has implied he is an “incompetent” manager, has cost the company millions, is a “sadistic executive”, and has created a toxic workplace. He said he’s “been brought into hatred, ridicule and contempt”, “been gravely injured in his character and reputation” and “suffered hurt and embarrassment”.
While Lang’s lawyers wrote to the paper requesting an apology, it seems the Tele has taken a leaf out of Macquarie Media’s book and is standing by its reporting.