By VERONICA ANASSIS
2GB has cancelled the NRL competition with Alan Jones, after the pullout of its major sponsor over Jones’ remarks towards New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The sponsor, an automotive parts retailer, withdrew support for the “ultimate NRL experience with Alan Jones” promotion on Thursday 22 August, after Jones aired that Arden should get “backhanders” and “a sock [shoved] down her throat.” The sponsor changed their ads to afternoon slots, but they’re set to lose $70,000 in bonus advertising from the move.
The other key affiliate − NRL− chose to launch the nation-wide promotion, days after the comments were widely accused of inciting “violence against women.” NRL’s continued support for Alan Jones is questionable in light of the recent allegations towards its players.
Rugby League has received a reprise of criticism for a culture of “violent misogyny,” following yet another player − Jack de Belin − committed to trial for sexual assault in July. But a sports media expert speculates it’s unlikely this is a sign that NRL condones Jones’ comments.
“Football codes are often the first social institutions to take on issues in society, such as marriage equality, and stopping racism and other forms of vilification… The NRL would also point to their creation of a women’s competition to demonstrate they are pro-equality” a sports media academic told City Hub.
“However, the football code also has to operate as a business, because they need to fund grassroots programs, infrastructure development, and paying the athletes” he said. “2GB may be a media rights partner of the NRL, and so the NRL [might] want to keep that relationship healthy, because the media company pay a lot of money …for their media rights.”
NRL have long been affiliated with the Alan Jones Breakfast Show. 2GB also hosts NRL Live. The station confirmed the NRL competition will continue, but with show host Ray Hadley.
Gone too far?
Alan Jones’ latest round of spitfire has created an onslaught of backlash, starting a domino effect of sponsor drop-outs, most recently Commonwealth Bank. Online groups are raising petitions to have Jones sacked, claiming his quips are dangerous and problematic.
“Inciting violence against women is not a joke. Doing so as a media broadcaster is heinous” said women’s group Doctors Against Violence Against Women.
“Violent language, metaphorical or literal, contributes to an environment where women are not free to speak, and in some cases may validate the violent behaviour of male perpetrators.”
“We call on 2GB and their sponsors to reconsider and end their association with Alan Jones, given his repeated damaging language directed at women he disagrees with.”
Jones told Nine News that he does not have a problem with women, in response to observations that his diatribes are often directed towards powerful females.
Business as usual
The shock-jock is no stranger to spouting calls-to-violence, with a long resumé of sexist vitriol.
In 2012, he declared that “women are destroying the joint” urging Julia Gillard be “shoved” in a “chaff bag.”
In 2017, he described Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s head as “in a noose.”
Jones was also linked to inciting participation in the Cronulla race riots in 2005. He read a text that invited listeners to “support the Leb and wog bashing day,” declared by The Australian Communications and Media Authority as spurring “violence or brutality.”
The popular radio veteran has been successfully sued 19 times for defamation. Yet his contract was renewed by Macquarie Media in May. Advertisers that pulled out support in 2012 − like Mercedes Benz − were back in 2019.
But critics say Jones’ nine lives may be less to do with a system that supports men in power: it’s down to a media culture that rewards “vile utterances” with advertising and ratings. Shock-jock culture in Australia is a cash-cow, that is not likely to abate.
“There will always be a media company that is willing to take on the risk of publishing the shock jock if it means they can make a lot of money from selling air-time to advertisers” said the sports media academic.
“The current political climate and nature of media consumption these days makes it less likely the shock jock will fade away. Contemporary political debate is characterised by a polarised, populist discourse that feeds an ‘us against them’ rhetoric on both sides.”
Alan Jones has since responded to the fall-out insisting the online public had “misinterpret[ed] things.”
“Of course, I would not wish any harm to Jacinda Ardern,” Mr Jones said, who later apologised.
2GB have reportedly put their problematic DJ on “notice” for his latest outburst. Only time will tell if, finally, time’s up for Alan Jones.