An ACMA investigation has found 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.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin, said, “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.
“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.
An ARN Spokesperson said, “ARN accepts the ACMA’s final decision and findings regarding the breach of the Commercial Radio Code in relation to decency standards and no breach of the code in relation to inciting severe ridicule on the basis of religion. ARN thanks them for taking into consideration the number of extensive steps ARN took to address the broadcast of September 18, 2019.
“At the time of the broadcast, ARN recognised the sensitivity of the content and acknowledge that its broadcast caused a level of concern in some sections of the community.
“ARN has not had any breaches of the decency provision in the past 10 years and regrets any distress caused by the segment. In the time immediately following the broadcast, ARN took a number of actions to remedy the situation, including broadcasting Kyle Sandilands’ unprecedented, lengthy and sincere on-air apology which also remains available on the KIIS website. Australia’s Christian and Muslim faith leaders accepted Kyle’s apology, which was also published in a public joint statement.”