Kyle Sandilands ‘counselled’ by ACMA over Virgin Mary remarks
An investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority over controversial comments made by KIIS FM shock jock Kyle Sandilands has reached its conclusion today.
The ACMA said it received over 180 complaints after Sandilands’ offensive remarks about the Virgin Mary and Christian beliefs during the Kyle & Jackie O Show on KIIS 106.5 Sydney.
The show aired on 18 September 2019, with ACMA saying the Australian Radio Network-owned station was in breach of rules “relating to generally accepted standards of decency”.
KIIS FM was not, however, in breach of inciting hatred or severe ridicule because of religion.
Sandilands joked that the Virgin Mary was impregnated “behind the camel shed”, causing an uproar from the Christian community. He apologised on-air from his LA studio a week later.
“I get upset that I’ve caused a lot of grief to a lot of people,” he said. “It was a joke and it was a hugely bad decision, poor taste. I didn’t realise the gravity of it and it really upset a lot of people.”
Passionate protesters were parked outside the ARN Studios in North Ryde, Sydney, for over a week calling for the sacking of Sandilands by station management. Their cries fell on deaf ears.
An ARN spokesperson told Radio Today it accepted the ACMA’s position, also thanking the regulator for its consideration of the “extensive steps” taken to address the offence.
“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,” they said.
“Australia’s Christian and Muslim faith leaders accepted Kyle’s apology, which was also published in a public joint statement,” adding that the apology remains on the KIIS FM website today.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said Australians are generally tolerant of irreverent humour and critical discussion about religion, but that Sandilands crossed the line.
“Sandilands overstepped the mark in terms of the generally accepted standards of decency in this case,” O’Loughlin said in a statement on Tuesday (September 8).
“While the comments were offensive, they lacked the necessary element of likely incitement.
The ACMA acknowledged steps taken by Sandilands and KIIS FM after the comments were made, including the removal of online content and reaching out to religious leaders.
In response to the ACMA’s findings, KIIS 106.5 has also “counselled Mr Sandilands” and will ensure its staff legal compliance training will reference the broadcast and breach findings.