Last Thursday on 2Day FM (and affiliated stations around Australia) Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O broadcast a segment involving a 14-year-old girl being asked questions about her sexual activity, while strapped to a polygraph. During the segment the girl revealed she'd been raped at 12. The mother of the girl was also involved in the segment.
As you'd expect, this broadcast has caused quite a furore, and has polarised opinion. The NSW Department of Community Services almost immediately launched an investigation into the matter and Sandilands was fired yesterday from his role as a judge on Australian Idol.
Many people believe that the mother is at fault for approaching the radio station in the first place. Others believe the fault lies solely with Austereo (owners of 2Day). And some blame Kyle Sandilands, because he was the one who showed the least professional behaviour in continuing the ask the girl about her sexual activity after she'd make the revelation about her rape.
I have started an online petition with a view to sending it, along with a letter of complaint, to Austereo. This is necessary in order to make an official complaint to the Australian Communications & Media Authority. In it I call for the immediate dismissal of Sandilands from the Austereo network.
I've also started a Facebook group, ostensibly to share the link to the petition, but also to hear people's opinions on the matter.
Some of the comments on the Facebook page mirror what I've read elsewhere since this incident took place, namely, that the mother should absorb the bulk of blame because she is responsible for the welfare of the child. While I agree with the suggestion that the mother has been negligent in her duty towards her daughter, there seems to be an implication that one person's culpability absolves any other party involved.
This is very much a cross between two fat fallacies, 'special pleading' and 'begging the question'.
In my opinion, everyone but the young girl in question is to blame. The mother was definitely wrong to do what she did, but how does that excuse the talent, producers and management of 2Day? Any claim that a call for Sandilands to be sacked is 'misdirected' is specious.
But why am I making him the target? Because DOCS can take care of the situation with the mother and daughter, and they appear to be doing that. ACMA will take care of Austereo if enough pressure is brought to bear. But Kyle & Jackie O? In the short term, that would be Austereo's call.
What's been their reaction to the mess? Dismissal? No. Suspension? No. The show has gone into http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/tv-radio/articles/2009/08/02/1249152508643.html.
Why am I calling for Sandilands to be fired but less severe punishment for Jackie O? Simply, because, while Jackie O laughed and joked about the situation as it was going to air, her immediate response to the girl's revelation of rape was to shut down the interview, but not before Sandilands had totally disgraced himself and professionalism when he asked, "Right . . . is that the only experience you've had?"
THIS is the reason he should be fired. If you could get to the nub of the reason he was fired by Ten, that's what you'd find. It wasn't the segment itself, these two have been feeding trite, banal, unfunny, tasteless hackery to their listening audiences for years and up till now only Media Watch has had the stones to call 'em on it.
Sandilands was so reprehensibly unprofessional that he blundered on like a borderline sociopath, when he should have done what any two-bit presenter would do if a situation went pear-shaped. Get the hell out of it and go to a commercial.
So, some people blame the mother and stupidly think the blame ends there. I don't. The guy is a cancer on broadcasting, and he needs to be excised.
On a final, hopefully more gentle note, my best wishes to the girl. I hope she is able to find the love, support and guidance she needs.
Below is the text of the online petition to recommend the dismissal of Kyle Sandilands from his position at 2DAY FM. Sign the petition here. You need do no more. I have already drafted a letter to Austereo and prepared a complaint to ACMA pending the response from Austereo.
Recently media personality Kyle Sandilands co-hosted a segment on his Austereo nationally-syndicated radio programme 'The Kyle and Jackie O Show' in which a 14-year-old girl was attached to a polygraph (lie detector) machine and asked questions about her sexual activity, at the behest of her mother.
Questioning by the mother led to the girl revealing she had been raped as a 12-year-old. Instead of bringing the interrogation to an immediate end, Sandilands continued to question the girl about her sexual activity.
It is our view that this behaviour on Sandilands' part was not only reprehensible and unprofessional in the extreme, it is in contravention of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice and Guidelines, Code 1.5 (a):
1.5 (a) All program content must meet contemporary standards of decency, having regard to the likely characteristics of the audience of the licensee's service.
Austereo's response to this was to place the programme in 'recess' ‘‘until we have completed an across-the-networks review of the principles and protocols of our interaction with our audience’’.
It is our view that Austereo's actions are insufficient. Further, we believe Mr Sandilands is unfit to broadcast in any capacity in the Australian media, as his actions have shown a complete and repeated disregard for the standards laid out in the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) codes.
We strongly recommend that Mr Sandilands' employment be terminated immediately, with a further recommendation that his co-host, Jackie O, also face stern disciplinary action.
A copy of this petition will be sent to ACMA, pending your response and further action in this matter.