Macquarie Radio Network (MRN) has indefinitely suspended all advertising on 2GB's Alan Jones show, with executive chairman Russell Tate accusing consumers of "cyber-bulling" advertisers and trying to "destroy companies".
MRN revealed it had indefinitely suspended all advertising from Jones' show yesterday as a result of the "cyber-bullying" its sponsors had received, following Jones' infamous remarks that Julia Gillard's father "died of shame" because of her "lies".
MRN executive chairman Russell Tate said: "What we are seeing here is a 21st century censorship via cyber-bullying".
"The nature, tone and volume of the reaction to Jones’ remarks, and in particular the threats being made through social media to companies advertising in Jones' program and the disruption being caused to their businesses, have made it necessary for MRN to call some 'time out'."
Jones' comments resulted in a barrage of social media attacks against Jones and the brands associated with the network. The controversy has been led by a 110-thousand strong Change.org petition urging people to get in contact with the network's sponsors, which has resulted in hundreds of users pledging a boycott if brands didn't cease sponsorship.
“We have to conclude that the avalanche of telephone, email and Facebook demands to our advertisers to 'boycott' the Alan Jones Breakfast Show, and the threats to destroy their businesses if they don’t comply, are coming almost entirely from people who do not listen to Alan Jones or 2GB at all – probably never have done and never will," Tate said.
"Strangely we have heard very little on this issue from the same social media groups which are attempting to destroy the companies who have the hide to advertise with the highest rating radio station in Sydney.
"All of their focus is destructive. They are simply making life as difficult as possible for the staff of companies whose crime apparently is advertising on Sydney’s highest rating breakfast radio show.
"Now, in Australia these people of course have the right to express their views to anybody who wants to listen, about any subject they want, including Alan Jones and his radio show.
"What they do not have the right to do is on the one hand decide for our listeners who and what they are going to hear on the radio station they choose to listen to, and on the other hand decide for Australian based companies which media outlets they will or won’t use to advertise their products and services.
"They do not have the right to interfere with freedom of choice and they do not have the right to attempt to censor – not Alan Jones, not this radio network, not the people who choose to listen to it and not the companies who choose to advertise on it."
The remarks saw over 70 major advertisers including Woolworths, Harvey Norman, Honda and Telstra pull their advertising from the show.
Tate added: “We have taken this unprecedented decision to suspend advertising in the Alan Jones Breakfast Show until further notice so that all of our advertisers are on an equal footing, can regroup and discuss with us the way forward and how we together deal with these attempts to damage great Australian businesses."
It has been reported that this move is likely to cost the network millions of dollars. A 30-second spot on Jones' program costs upwards of $500, with a live announcement costing in excess of $1000.
“The decision obviously comes at a very significant short term cost to MRN. It is an insignificant price to pay for our audience to be able to listen to what they choose to listen to, and for Australian companies to advertise where they choose to advertise.”
The famed broadcaster, who has since apologised, made the remarks at Sydney University's Young Liberals' fundraising dinner last month.
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