Cricket Australia has withdrawn its sponsorship from KIIS FM following a “distasteful” stunt during the now infamous Steve Smith press conference.
During Smith’s conference, KIIS FM producer Pete Deppeler, known as “Intern Pete”, decided to take a “change of tact” when speaking to the disgraced former captain.
Deppeler said to Smith, “I want to let you know from the perspective (of the) non-sports community of Australians, to see you upset tonight is very sad.”
“Mate I’ve got to tell you … hold your head high for what you have done because what’s actually been worse is what Davina and Dean did on Married At First Sight.”
The comments drew an immediate backlash from viewers on social media, with journalist Leigh Sales even taking to Twitter to condemn Deppeler’s actions.
The person from the @kyleandjackieo who made a statement during the Smith remarks – utterly ill-judged and awful.
— Leigh Sales (@leighsales) March 29, 2018
When asked if Cricket Australia had pulled sponsorship, ARN said, “We’ve yet to hear directly from Cricket Australia however we’re very willing to talk through any questions or concerns that they may have”.
B&T has contacted Cricket Australia for comment.
KIIS FM has released a statement from an ARN spokesperson insisting it was an attempt to “inject warmth” into the conference.
“As you can hear when you listen to the audio of the question, Pete genuinely felt for Steve, as he tried to inject some warmth and light to what was a difficult situation.”
Meanwhile, Pete has issued a public apology.
“If I had the opportunity I’d like to apologise to Steve. I do feel for the guys and I think my timing definitely wasn’t right on that. So I am truly sorry to Steve.”
KIIS FM hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O also commented on Pete’s actions during this morning’s show, and wholeheartedly stood by the producer.
“… They [haters] want his mother dead. What sort of people are these people? It’s a f**king game… This kid could have killed himself over the weekend because of all the hell he’s been put through. Imagine if he’d taken his own life because some flog somewhere who’s so obsessed with cricket wanted him dead?”
Jackie O said: “Intern Pete was in trouble over the weekend … I woke up to the news. I didn’t even know what was going on until the next day. I’m cringing at the thought.”
“Who cares? It’s a cricket game at the end of the day … he got death threats, people threatened Intern Pete with death — these are loons,” Sandilands added.
“We didn’t know he was going to [ask the question], but I still support him — I couldn’t give a shit.”