A number of radio stations in New Zealand and Canada and one in Australia have decided to ditch songs of Micheal Jackson from their broadcasts after fresh allegations of sexual abuse resurfaced since the documentary Leaving Neverland was out.
The 'King of Pop', Michael Jackson, is in the news again. Since the recent HBO documentary Leaving Neverland aired around the world, the darkest part of the late superstar has emerged again - allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against children. A number of countries around the world have decided to take off MJ's songs from radio stations probably till the entire controversy subsides. The allegations are nothing new. MJ was charged with widespread child sexual abuse along but was cleared of all charges. There have been a number of children who had been to his home. While Jackson's family claims that he was very fond of children, he was however not an abuser. The documentary brings into the limelight the personal testimonies of two men who had been friends with the late singer as children and put forward some explosive and rather graphic allegation of rape. According to a report in The Guardian, dozens of radio stations around the world such as in Canada and New Zealand have removed Michael Jackson’s music from their playlists after allegations resurfaced following the airing of the documentary.
In New Zealand, the main public broadcaster and its major commercial rivals with a listeners' base covering more than half the population have unitedly opted against playing any songs of the singer. The main public broadcaster, RNZ has defended its actions and said that it had applied “editorial judgment” to any music it played. It added that MJ did not currently feature in its plans. According to MediaWorks, pulling out all songs of the late singer was “a reflection of our audiences and their preferences.”
The company owns nine major commercial radio stations and confirmed that the artist had been pulled from all playlists at all its stations, soon after the documentary aired. Dean Buchanan, director of another major broadcaster, NZME explained the company's decision in taking off all MJ's song and said, “Playlists change from week to week and right now Michael Jackson does not feature on them.” The documentary shows the personal testimonies of two men who speak about what went down when they were with Jackson as kids.
Wade Robson and Jimmy Savechuck, now in their 30s spent a considerable amount of time with Jackson since the 1980s and even accompanied the late singer on his tours. Robson knew MJ since the age of 7 and grew up to be quite popular in the dance and choreography circuit. He choreographed the famous NSYNC song Bye Bye Bye and also worked with Britney Spears. While earlier an ardent MJ supporter he has even testified in support of Jackson in court when allegations of sexual abuse surfaced against the singer in 2002. Safechuck first met Jackson in 1988 while they both shooting a Pepsi commercial.
Along with the New Zealand radio stations, 3 major Canadian radio stations have also banned Jackson’s songs. The owner of CKOI and Rythme, the Montreal French-language stations and the English-language channel, The Beat confirmed that MJ's music had been pulled off as of March 4. The media company Cogeco is also one of the channels that have taken MJ's songs off the air. Speaking about the move, Christine Dicaire, a spokeswoman said the move that applies to 23 smaller radio stations was a response to listener reactions to the documentary.
In Australia, Nova Entertainment Group that reaches over 8.4 million Australians each week through stations like Smooth FM, have decided to stop playing MJ's track according to the Daily Mail. Paul Jackson, Nova Entertainment's Group Programme Director, said the decision was made to meet their audience in the current context. He said in a statement, "The decisions we make about the music we play on any of our stations are dependent on the relevance to the audience and the current context.
It further reads, "In light of what is happening at the moment, smoothfm is not currently playing any Michael Jackson songs." While there were reports of even the BBC banning Jackson's songs, the public broadcaster has clarified that each piece of music was considered on their merits by each network. It is still unclear whether the ban is permanent or temporary in these countries.