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KIIS 1065’s Kyle & Jackie O breaches decency standards

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An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation has found radio station
KIIS 1065 in breach of rules relating to generally accepted standards of decency due to comments made by Kyle Sandilands about the Virgin Mary and Christian beliefs. 

The investigation found KIIS 1065 was not in breach of rules relating to inciting hatred and severe ridicule because of religion.

The ACMA investigated an episode of Kyle & Jackie O that aired on 18 September 2019 after receiving 180 complaints alleging that the segment was offensive and incited hatred and ridicule of Christians.

The ACMA investigation made under the Commercial Radio Code of Practice found the broadcast contained offensive statements to listeners of faith and the wider community.

“Australians are generally tolerant of irreverent humour and critical discussion about religion. But they would not expect a host of a broadcast program to derisively criticise people’s intelligence because of their religious beliefs,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“Mr Sandilands overstepped the mark in terms of the generally accepted standards of decency in this case.”

The investigation found that the high threshold for a breach of rules relating to inciting hatred and severe ridicule because of religion was not reached.

“While the comments were offensive, they lacked the necessary element of likely incitement, in all the circumstances, of hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule in the audience, which is the test in the rules,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

The ACMA notes the extensive actions taken by the licensee and Mr Sandilands at the time of the broadcast, including on-air apologies, issuing a licensee statement, removal of material from its website and reaching out to religious leaders in the community.

In response to the ACMA’s findings, KIIS 1065 has also counselled Mr Sandilands and will ensure its staff legal compliance training will reference the broadcast and breach findings.

The ACMA considers these actions as sufficient remediation by the licensee in this case particularly given it has not had any breaches of the decency provision, across any of its programs, in the past 10 years.

MR 34/2020

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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