Are young women crying out to be demeaned on radio?
There was only so much the Australian Communications and Media Authority could do to sanction 2DayFM over Kyle Sandilands’s sledge against news.com.au journalist Alison Stephenson.
But I’m most interested in what Southern Cross Austereo CEO Rhys Holleran had to say in response to ACMA this morning. Essentially Sandilands’s boss reckons it’s “unworkable” for 2DayFM to comply with ACMA’s ruling it refrain from broadcasting material that “offends generally-accepted standards of decency, demeans or is likely to demean women or girls, places undue emphasis on gender, uses overt sexual references in relation to a woman’s physical characteristics, and/or condones or incites violence against women.”
Holleran said: “Our difficulty with the proposed licence condition is that terms such as ‘decency, ‘demeaning’ and ‘undue emphasis on gender’ are broad and ambiguous and mean different things to different people.”
Amazingly, this is in spite of 2DayFM’s audience being “women, predominantly young women.” Holleran said: “2Day FM has built its significant audience over the past decade by broadcasting programs which appeal to women and their interests in a relevant and entertaining way”.
Yet by his argument, the station cannot continue to appeal to this audience of young women while also promising not to demean them.
Here’s the thing. ACMA has called on 2DayFM to abide by “generally-accepted standards of decency.” It’s not rocket science to work out what is “generally accepted”, especially with the aid of modern social media, where thousands of members of the public are happy to point out the line to you when you cross it.
The producers at 2DayFM do know what they are doing. This past weekend Sandilands’s co-host Jackie O put on the public record that she too knows what she’s doing.
They get paid bucketloads to know where the “generally accepted” line is. The problem here is not incompetence, it’s the idea that being demeaned is what their audience wants, and if anyone knows what their audience wants it’s this lot - the ratings prove it.
So the saddest thing to come out of this saga is the conclusion that 2DayFM knows its audience better than anyone, and that audience would be put at risk by the station having to treat women with respect.
ACMA can try what ever it likes to clean up the airwaves, but as long as there’s a sizable group of young women who enjoy listening to other young women being put down, there’s nothing the broadcast watchdog, or anyone else, can do about it.
That’s just depressing.
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