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Boycotting hate radio

October 9th, 2012

When the move to boycott Alan Jones began a week or so ago, the ‘savvy’ conventional wisdom of media experts was that advertisers might pull their ads for a while, but that they would be back as soon the fuss died down. The recent examples of Rush Limbaugh and Kyle Sandilands were cited in support of this claim. I don’t know about Sandilands (is there any info on advertisers who publicly dropped him, then returned?) but I don’t think Limbaugh’s case supports this claim, and the decision of 2GB to run Jones ad-free makes it even more problematic.

In the US, it seems that, far from returning to Limbaugh, big corporations have concluded that advertising on hate radio of any kind is a losing proposition, now that people outside the immediate audience are paying attention to what they are doing. Far from returning to Limbaugh they are pulling ads across the board, in favor of straight news shows, or away from radio altogether. The new model for hate radio is narrowcasting, as practised by Glenn Beck, who relies on his own merchandise and small advertisers. That’s commercially viable in a country as big as the US, but it ensures that Beck remains a marginal figure, with none of the influence he had in his days with Fox. Limbaugh hangs on, but he’s a much diminished figure, who no longer inspires terror, even among Republicans.

The 2GB “ad-free” strategy seems like a panic move. The obvious problem is that you are either ad-free or you are not. So, presumably they are planning on a relaunch, in which a bunch of advertisers return simultaneously, and with a fair bit of publicity. If I were the PR director of a major national company, I don’t think I’d be keen to be part of that. So, their best bet is to line a bunch of rightwing small businesspeople who are willing to take one for the team. Perhaps that will carry him long enough for some bigger companies to sneak back, but I doubt it. The boycott campaigners are seeking commitments to stay away through 2013. With no ads running anyway, making such a commitment, and getting loads of good publicity as a result, seems like a no-brainer for most companies.

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  1. Katz
    October 12th, 2012 at 08:53 | #1

    Terje. Pay attention. I hope that this needs to be said only once.

    Alan Jones is a part owner of radio station 2GB. At the moment Jones and the other part owners are burning cash keeping Jones on air. I have no objection to Jones continuing to burn his cash in this manner for as long as he likes, until he is ruined financially, hopefully.

    I am with Voltaire on this. Jones is stubborn. He may well prove to be incorrigible. Clearly, most of his sponsors are more tractable. Jones may replace his tractable sponsors with incorrible sponsors. Good. I will know who they are and I and an unknown number of others will boycott their goods and services.

    So, which new would-be sponsors are willing to take the risk? Not many it seems. How long is Jones prepared to burn cash? Until it runs out I hope.

    Therefore, under those conditions I’m glad that Jones is not yet off the air.

  2. Tom
    October 12th, 2012 at 09:02 | #2

    @Jack Strocchi

    Jack, I don’t exactly see how does boycotting conflicts with liberalism. It is consistent with libertarian viewpoint (i think) if it is an entity with authority (e.g. the government) which imposes a ban or regulation towards a certain behaviour that will harm “liberty”.

    However if the consumers have freedom to purchase goods and services, they should also have the freedom to not purchase a goods and services. In this case it is not the government which is imposing a ban on Jones but the consumers themselves. It is also the freedom of the businesses which if they perceive that sponsoring a broadcaster will harm their business, to pull their sponsorship.

    In a democracy, there is never such a thing of liberty for all, there is only liberty for the majority’s decision. For example, if there is enough public support to ban Jones from boardcasting, that is a democratic decision and that harms the liberty of Jones (or conflicts with the freedom of speech). What about the process of voting? Does having a government (whether a regulative or laissez faire) elect which is not of your choice conflict with liberty? I hope you libertarians see how free for all can never be achieved.

    As regards to Jones, I personally do not think much of his “die of shame” comment because it is expected from him as he had been abusive of political figures or private figures who he hates. I would much prefer to boycott him on the grounds of his racist comments and influencing violence (Cronulla riots) rather than an abusive comment to Gillard’s father (although theres not much difference strictly speaking).

    @TerjeP

    Although I don’t like to, I think Jones will survive this like Kyle Sandilands.

  3. John Quiggin
    October 12th, 2012 at 09:46 | #3

    “I would much prefer to boycott him on the grounds of his racist comments and influencing violence ”

    As I pointed out in a previous post, Al Capone was done for tax evasion. As with Capone, Jones had too much pull with (for example) the ABA under David Flint in the cash-for-comment case to suffer any consequences for these earlier offences, but if it weren’t for them, he could have passed off the latest one as an isolated lapse of judgement.

  4. Tom
    October 12th, 2012 at 10:27 | #4

    @John Quiggin

    Nothing to disagree with there.

    I do agree that his previous comments is the reason why a lot of people are signing the petition. The point which I wanted to make though (maybe I haven’t explained myself properly), is that people who are signing the petition to boycott might be doing it for his previous offensive comments rather than this particular one.

    It is understandable that the other side might perceive this boycott as being a political movement because it started with an abusive comment which involved a political figures close relative. Although I understand that his comments gave the chance for a petition to boycott; it felt like to me, hypothetically speaking, that we are going to court suing someone for a charge which is more difficult to convict when the person have convicted far worse offenses.

  5. Fran Barlow
    October 12th, 2012 at 10:30 | #5

    @TerjeP

    Singo and Carnegie have deep pockets. Apparently Singo has a horse running at Caulfield tomorrow. Perhaps Jones should hope for it to win.

  6. Tom
    October 12th, 2012 at 10:37 | #6

    @Tom

    “when the person have convicted far worse offenses.”

    Misused of the word convicted there, should of being committed far worse offence

  7. frankis
    October 12th, 2012 at 10:43 | #7

    @TerjeP
    Some people only fight fights they know they can win; such people don’t fight – or win – often. Many people prattle a lot on blogs.

  8. Ron E Joggles
    October 12th, 2012 at 11:49 | #8

    @TerjeP
    I’d be very surprised if Jones is off air any time soon. His loyal audience will continue to listen, and the agencies which place advertising will follow the ratings – why would ad execs give a rat’s arse about the vicious bile Jones delivers? – they’re not listening!

    And the campaign to boycott advertisers will soon peter out, and those who don’t come back will be replaced.

    It would be nice if Jones himself decided to quit, but what else would he do? No supportive partner to go home to, no loving children awaiting his thoughtful advice. Perhaps he could take up golf, or swimming laps. Woodwork? I think he’ll tough it out.

  9. JB Cairns
    October 12th, 2012 at 11:54 | #9

    Alan Jones has denied being a part of cash for comment.

    I think we can safely say now he is mad like Steve Kates. These people live in another universe.

    Facts are not a part of it.

  10. rog
    October 12th, 2012 at 18:27 | #10

    @Fran Barlow Singo is a majority shareholder, Carnegie relatively small.

  11. rog
    October 12th, 2012 at 18:29 | #11

    Malcolm Turnbull writes that social media has accomplished far more than the regulator ACMA. As usual Turnbull is too quick to judge; ACMA promotes self regulation.

  12. Patrickb
    October 12th, 2012 at 21:48 | #12

    @Steve at the Pub
    “an effective critic of the ALP”
    Crazy talk. Jones preaches to the converted. He hasn’t constructed a single argument that would withstand mile examination. Witness his arithmetical problems with percentages. You’ve got nothing.

  13. Patrickb
    October 12th, 2012 at 21:59 | #13

    @TerjeP
    Ah … TerjeP … you and your “understandings” … we are but children …

  14. TerjeP
    October 13th, 2012 at 08:15 | #14

    It’s Saturday. I think he is off the air today.

  15. Jim Rose
    October 13th, 2012 at 09:46 | #15

    is there anyone on commercial morning radio that is anything other than a shock jock?

  16. Patrickb
    October 13th, 2012 at 11:30 | #16

    @TerjeP
    And if money was all people care about then wouldn’t the The Australian have folded years ago? Clearly you should know the answer to your own question, money isn’t all they care about. Perhaps they think that they have some influence over the political debate, much more than the rest of us. Is that possible??

  17. Fran Barlow
    October 13th, 2012 at 11:54 | #17

    @Jim Rose

    Is there anyone on commercial talk radio in a major Australian city who isn’t a shock jock? Is there such a thing as a left-of-centre shock jock on radio anywhere in the English-speaking world? Don’t think so.

  18. Katz
    October 13th, 2012 at 14:00 | #18

    Absolutely correct Terje.

    Jonesy isn’t burning cash today.

  19. Jim Rose
    October 13th, 2012 at 15:00 | #19

    @Fran Barlow
    you defined the geography of your question see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_talk_radio

    the demographics of who listens to talk radio is the key issue. the shock jocks give the audience what they want. if there is a market there, someone will supply it.

  20. TerjeP
    October 13th, 2012 at 15:10 | #20

    @Patrickb Tounge was in cheek. Sorry if it wasn’t obvious.

  21. TerjeP
    October 14th, 2012 at 07:16 | #21

    @Jim Rose

    The way the term “shock jock” is used in Australia any commentator on commercial radio is one by definition. If we used the term correctly it would be applied to interviewers on program’s like “A Current Affair” which conduct surprise interviews on people in car parks and at their front door. Commercial radio commentators invite people in for interviews and don’t sneak around their homes to surprise them.

  22. Jim Rose
    October 14th, 2012 at 08:11 | #22

    Fran, you defined the geography of your question see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_talk_radio

    the demographics of who listens to talk radio is the key issue. the shock jocks give the audience what they want. if there is a market there, someone will supply it.

  23. rog
    October 14th, 2012 at 11:55 | #23

    @Fran Barlow Philip Clark was on 2GB for a while http://www.wallmedia.com.au/clark.htm

  24. Fran Barlow
    October 14th, 2012 at 15:33 | #24

    @Jim Rose

    Thanks Jim … although it seems the remainder are syndicated rather than local and often not “talk” in the sense of callers ringing in.

    I rather suspect we will never see a left-of-centre “shock jock” largely because left-of-centre audiences don’t like being talked at, talked over or talked down to and because we place a more value on reason and evidence in forming inferences than in feelings and faith.

    Of course, that probably explains why it doesn’t work in a commercial setting. Commerce demands certainty — black and white judgements — and for the host-announcer to have Voice of God status. Nuance is a killer for sales. Accordingly, it is little wonder that the audiences attracted to left-of-centre announcers are much less merchantable.

  25. Jim Rose
    October 14th, 2012 at 16:27 | #25

    Fran, no side of politics is free of bias. For example, what Americans call liberals tend to give government actors both more credit and blame for economic and other outcomes.

    If anything, a lack of education was a good predictor of having left-wing views. It was in the past when the working class was solid Labor voters.

    see http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2012/09/the-greens-versus-labor-geographic-and-educational-dimensions.html#more

    the big difference between safe Labor electorates with huge Green votes and equally safe Labor seats with low Green support is the proportion of university educated residents. It is good to see that Labor is still the party of the working class.

    the Greens are the heirs to the 19th century British Tory Radicals: combining strong support for centralised power with a paternalistic concern for the poor and a back-to-the-earth localism to be imposed on others but which presents no threat to their comfortable middle class lives. the Greens just mouth the prejudices of Trollope’s 19th century Tory squires: they attack further expansions of industry and commerce as impossibly vulgar because it is ‘ecologically unfair to their pheasants and wild ducks’.

  26. Fran Barlow
    October 14th, 2012 at 17:16 | #26

    @Jim Rose

    Fran, no side of politics is free of bias

    True. Everyone has a perspective. Of course, if everyone is ‘biased’ then the concept of bias is problematic.

    If anything, a lack of education was a good predictor of having left-wing views.

    I suppose it depends on what you describe as ‘leftwing views’.

    It was in the past when the working class was solid Labor voters.

    The party was populist and socially conservative, so not ‘leftwing’. They smashed the miners strike with troops in 1949, remember?

    I’m going to simply laugh at your summary of the attitudes of Greens. Classic Blot.

  27. Jim Rose
    October 14th, 2012 at 18:48 | #27

    fran, the labor party used to be full of socialists. tried to nationalised the banks etc in 1949 too.

    the greens have aristocratic vision in which the knowing ones would order society for the rest of us. Environmentalism is the opportunity to combine virtue and selfishness. Always about ordering the less enlightened other people but hating it when the boot is on the other foot.

    progressives against progress are no more than nineteenth-century conservatives reloaded. environmentalism poisoned the Left’s historical optimism.

  28. Fran Barlow
    October 15th, 2012 at 09:27 | #28

    @Jim Rose

    fran, the labor party used to be full of socialists. tried to nationalised the banks etc in 1949 too.

    If you form a capitalist government and use the capitalist army to smash a strike against the capitalist mine-owners, not only can you not claim to be “socialist”, you can’t even claim to be trade unionist.

    One might add, though it is superfluous here, that the ALP was, inter alia a party of White Australia and express racism, which again excludes if from claiming leftist credentials. Leftists are inter alia egalitarians, supporters of the extension of equity to all of working humanity. They were also deeply hostile to equality for women, supporters of the imperialist side in Malaya, Korea and Vietnam. Again, this is hnot something consistent with leftism.

    The ALP was a party with some communitarian populist positions on some domestic policies but it was not in any fundamental political way, to be distinguished from the Menzies-era conservatives, during the 25 years following WW2. In some states, the grouper elements never even left. Post-1970 they began adopting some more liberal communitarian positions as the imperialist position began to deteriorate in Vietnam, but this was episodic — as the later Hawke period showed and even then it didn’t amount to leftism. The Whitlam regime tacitly backed the Indonesian takeover in East Timor.

    The Hawke-Keating “reforms” were, not unreasonably from their POV, welcomed by the official conservatives and backed by them. During the early 1990s the regime backed mandatory detention for asylum seekers. By 2001 they were backing punitive rendition to Nauru and Manus, a position that marks them still.

    They are today in every meaningful sense, a party of the centre-right. They are to to the right on some policy matters of almost all centre-right parties in Europe. They are to the right of NZ’s conservatives on gay marriage and refugees (and arguable the US centre-right Democrats). They are less ambitious on climate change than even the British Tory party. The have declined to institute a broad-based resources rent tax on minerals. They support occupying other countries and their Foreign Minister supports assassinating a foreign head of state as a vehicle for “peace”.

    None of this has anything to do with leftism.

  29. Ernestine Gross
    October 15th, 2012 at 17:48 | #29

    I have no idea what the history of the ALP and the Greens and associated hypotheses, the subject of the discussion between Fran and Jim Rose, have to do with ‘boycotting hate radio’.

  30. Jim Rose
    October 15th, 2012 at 17:53 | #30

    Fran, your conception of the Left is not broad church.

    The Left has a long history of racism. Apartheid was found in the 1920s after a general strike of white unions led by English socialist émigrés.

    U.S. Unions supported racial discrimination and lobbied for Asian exclusion laws right from the start. An example from 1874: the U.S. Cigarmakers Union was the first to persuade manufacturers to put a union label on cigar boxes. This was to differentiate the product from those made by unorganised Chinese immigrant labour.

    Marx’s anti-Semitism is well-known from his letters over decades. Marx’s analysis of colonialism as a progressive force makes him a fellow traveller of P.T. Bauer.

    The ultimate problem of socialism is its incompatibility with democracy. Too many ideas of the Left assume that they are the face of the future, rather than just another political party that will hold power as often as not.

    On reflection, I understand why you want to put all left-wing parties to date down a memory hole: they were racists and sexist from the get-go by nature rather than by aberration.

  31. rog
    October 16th, 2012 at 06:02 | #31

    @Ernestine Gross No and I wonder if Jim Rose has actually read the Antony Green article.

  32. Ron E Joggles
    October 16th, 2012 at 06:10 | #32

    “I’d be very surprised if Jones is off air any time soon. His loyal audience will continue to listen, and the agencies which place advertising will follow the ratings. And the campaign to boycott advertisers will soon peter out, and those who don’t come back will be replaced.”

    Was I right, or was I right?

  33. John Quiggin
    October 16th, 2012 at 08:17 | #33

    @Ron E Joggles

    Too early to tell. It appears that no major brands advertised this AM, and the ads weren’t even included in the online feed. They can’t sustain the show by relying on rightwing small businesses for funding.

  34. Ikonoclast
    October 16th, 2012 at 09:11 | #34

    @Jim Rose

    “The ultimate problem of socialism is its incompatibility with democracy.” – Jim Rose.

    Jim, have you worked for any democratic capitalist businesses lately? Last time I looked (and worked for them) they were authoritarian hierarchies organised on the basis of ownership and wealth. It is capitalism that is incompatible with democracy. Socialism and democracy are very compatible in, for example, worker cooperatives. Don’t make the mistake of equating Soviet communism with socialism. Soviet communism was in fact a State Capitalist Dictatorship.

    The evolution of modern China illustrates how compatible are Party dictatorship and capitalism. The US has evolved into an Oligarchic Capitalist semi-dictatatorship. Time and again we see how compatible are political dictatorship and economic dictatorship. Capitalism IS economic dictatorship.

  35. Fran Barlow
    October 16th, 2012 at 09:48 | #35

    @John Quiggin

    Noting the point that the history of left-wing throught is not on topic … I will refrain from further back and forth. Stipulated — I reject @JimRose’s characterisation of the matter. It ixs the right that is the source of racism and elite power.

    On the Jones matter …

    It would be wrong to say that all the businesses returning are “small”. Suzuki Australia, Westend Mazda, Masterton Homes and Dee Why Grand Shopping Centre are probably “medium”.

    A campaign to target these businesses and others is already in progress here: on.fb.me/PyyXcQ

  36. Fran Barlow
    October 16th, 2012 at 10:20 | #36

    Update:

    @JennaPrice Jenna Just spoke to Suzuki hq. They have pulled all advertising on Jones show. Advertising agency has let them down says boss.

  37. John Quiggin
    October 16th, 2012 at 10:47 | #37

    @Fran Barlow

    I’d count Suzuki as large, but they’ve already said it was a mistake.

    West End Mazda is trashing the Mazda brand. They might get some business from Jones fans, but at the expense of the Mazda brand as a whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are getting an earful from corporate HQ right now.

    The others are, as you say medium rather than small – I suspect they’ve made a bad call, particularly the shopping centre. I wonder, for example, if they have Woolies or Coles as anchor tenants.

  38. Fran Barlow
    October 16th, 2012 at 11:01 | #38

    @John Quiggin

    They seem to have a Coles plus Harris Farm Markets, Westpac, St George, Bakers Delight, Bottlemart …

    I will contact these stores directly to let them know how their advertising dollar is being spent.

  39. MartinK
    October 16th, 2012 at 14:49 | #39

    @John Quiggin
    “Too early to tell. It appears that no major brands advertised this AM, and the ads weren’t even included in the online feed.”
    Probably stating the obvious, but I’m sure putting the ads on air but not online was exactly the targetting they wanted.

  40. Fran Barlow
    October 16th, 2012 at 15:44 | #40

    This afternoon, Dee Why Grand Shopping Centre and Paul’s Warehouse have pulled their ads from the Jones show.

    Dee Why Grand commented in response to my email in part:

    Dee Why Grand Shopping Centre’s advertising contract is with the station 2GB, in which the advertising spots are spread throughout the day with no allocated times under the contract. However, we now have advised the station to restrict the centre’s advertising outside the weekday morning programme.

    I responded:

    While I congratulate you on this step back from open support of Mr Jones, I really would prefer that you entirely broke commercial dealings with 2GB until such time as Mr Jones ceases to have a beneficial interest in the position of MRN.

    I suppose we will see what happens.

  41. Jill Rush
    October 16th, 2012 at 22:58 | #41

    It seems that while 2GB thought it was worth putting their toe back into the water that the stew is still boiling. The social media campaign is showing no sign of letting up or letting the corporate world off with a lukewarm warning. The radio station may have bottomless pockets but the advertisers are wanting to sell product not provide a charitable service to 2GB. I guess we can say Ron E Joggles that you weren’t right.

  42. TerjeP
    October 17th, 2012 at 01:40 | #42

    There is some reporting here along the lines of Frans comment:-

    http://m.smh.com.au/national/advertisers-pull-out-of-alan-jones-show–once-again-20121016-27p5k.html

    Alan Jones is still on the air. And as the story indicates 2GB are dabbling with reintroducing advertising to his time slot.

  43. rog
    October 17th, 2012 at 03:24 | #43

    Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/DestroyTheJoint?

    It seems some advertisers are unaware and when contacted were quite willing to end their support

  44. John Quiggin
    October 17th, 2012 at 04:39 | #44

    I saw Candelori’s restaurant quoted as an advertiser who is staying on. That’s not surprising

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/donor-law-broken-at-ofarrell-lunch-20120908-25l0e.html

    and, surprise, surprise, Masterton homes gets an unflattering mention.

    So, Jones will keep some advertisers, but the supply of businesses that can rely entirely on rightwing customers/political connections is limited.

  45. Fran Barlow
    October 17th, 2012 at 10:50 | #45

    @John Quiggin

    Candelori posts as “Generic Person” on pollbludger (William Bowe’s Crikey Site) and is a hard core coalition supporter.

  46. Ron E Joggles
    October 17th, 2012 at 21:55 | #46

    @John Quiggin
    “They can’t sustain the show by relying on rightwing small businesses for funding.”
    I hope you’re right! And may Alan Jones return to the anonymity he so richly deserves.

  47. TerjeP
    October 18th, 2012 at 04:07 | #47

    So, Jones will keep some advertisers, but the supply of businesses that can rely entirely on rightwing customers/political connections is limited.

    They don’t need to. If they advertise on the Jones show they potentially win sales from some of his listeners and potentially lose sales from those participating in the boycott. They can still access the rest of the population through other media. And most of the population is neither part of the boycott nor an Alan Jones listener.

    p.s. Alan Jones is still on the air. Now apparently with more advertising flowing back.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-news/businesses-back-alan-jones-not-bullies/story-e6freuzi-1226498100398

  48. rog
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:19 | #48
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