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KIIS 1065 mpox comments breach decency standards


The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found comments made during a broadcast of the Kyle & Jackie O program about gay men and the mpox virus breached decency rules under the Commercial Radio Code of Practice. 

An ACMA investigation found that the segment, which discussed the outbreak of mpox in Australia, included offensive comments by Kyle Sandilands that stereotyped gay men and assigned blame to them for the spread of the virus.  

The ACMA found that the overall sentiment of the segment stereotyped gay men as irresponsible in regard to their sexual health, this made them the prime carriers of a virus that presented a danger to the community and, as a result, they were not deserving of sympathy or compassion. 

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the comments were derisive and insulting and were not in keeping with standards of decency expected by the audience.

“We acknowledge that the program’s audience does not expect the presentation style of either the program or the presenter to always be formal and nuanced,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Although there was a basis at the time for a public discussion about mpox that involved reference to gay sexuality, the segment went beyond any acceptable standards by conveying that gay men were irresponsible, were a risk to the community and did not deserve any sympathy even when presenting for medical assistance.”

“Broadcasters have a responsibility to maintain appropriate levels of decency, and in this case the comments by Mr Sandilands were overly disparaging and insulting.”

The broadcast pre-dated the findings in a separate ACMA investigation into the Kyle & Jackie O program that discussed the Tokyo Paralympics and was also found to have breached the Commercial Radio Code of Practice decency provisions. 

Following that investigation, as part of a court-enforceable undertaking accepted by the ACMA, the licensee agreed to deliver sensitivity training to the program hosts, producers, censors and other relevant staff. The licensee must report back to the ACMA on its progress every six months for two years, with the next report due on 17 September 2023. The licensee will incorporate the findings from this most recent investigation into that training and reporting regime.

MR 23/2023

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