Boycotting hate radio

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.

148 thoughts on “Boycotting hate radio

  1. @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.

  2. 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.

  3. @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.

  4. 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’.

  5. 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.

  6. “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?

  7. @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.

  8. @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.

  9. @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:

  10. Update:

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

  11. @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.

  12. @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.

  13. @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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. @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.

  17. 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.

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