Russell Tate dismisses social attacks on Jones as 'spam'

Macquarie Radio Network (MRN) chairman Russell Tate has belittled the social media campaign targeting Alan Jones and his sponsors, arguing it is nothing more than "spam".

This morning's return of advertisers to the Alan Jones show follows the network's temporary suspension of all sponsors due to claims of "cyber-bullying" and social media attacks.

MRN chief executive Russell Tate told AdNews: "A lot of this is essentially spam. People have got the right to boycott products, they can do whatever they want, but no-one has the right to disrupt businesses and tell them how they operate.

"We've got no problem with people expressing their views but what was happening was the consequential destruction of businesses.

"People choose to listen to Alan Jones but there's plenty of other choice and if advertisers choose to engage with them, they should be able to do that without their businesses being blown up."

Tate, speaking about the network's advertising suspension, said: "What we wanted to achieve was to give us time to discuss what had gone on with our advertisers. We wanted to interview the audience, and we wanted everybody to understand how to deal with the tone and volume of the social media messages. We have made a lot of progress with advertisers."

He also said the network had been in talks with the people leading the social media campaigns. "We initiated discussions with some organisers behind them, some which have been constructive and some which have not been."

MRN sales director Mark Noakes said the suspension gave the company the chance to "consult directly with the social media campaigners" and said the network will continue to keep "all lines of communication open".

Despite declining to name the returning advertisers, he said: "The line-up changes from day to day and week to week and is available to anyone who chooses to listen."

Tate also spoke about the length of the suspension and the future of the Alan Jones show. "There was never any fixed time. We'll see what happens. We've achieved what we've wanted, got a lot of advertisers happy to return and we'll see where that takes us."

The social media backlash was sparked by Jones' remarks that Julia Gillard's father "died of shame" because of her "political lies", and has seen several Facebook pages condemning Jones and his sponsors. It has seen a resurgence this morning following the return of advertisers, with users continuing to condemn sponsors and pledge a boycott of their products.

Jones has since apologised for the remarks but has also called his critics "jealous" and deemed the social media campaign "cyber-bullying".

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