In a report released on Tuesday, the Australian Communications and Media Industry ruled that comments made by Kyle Sandilands on the Kyle and Jackie ‘O’ show in 2021 breached broadcasting standards.
The media watchdog said that KIIS1065 twice breached the commercial radio code’s “decency provision” by airing the remarks made by Sandilands.
As reported by The Australian, the first breach occurred on September 1, 2021, when Sandilands said: “Have you been watching the Special Olympics? It’s horrific some of the things. Some poor bloke ran for the high jump and then veered right ‘cause he was blind and landed on his arse on the ground”.
“Then, when they were playing soccer, the blind people, I was, I was thinking are you joking, they’re throwing themselves on the ground like sausages to block the ball.”
“And I think good on you, I love the spirit of the contest … but I feel … Jesus Christ … that’s a big effort.”
In its report, ACMA said: “While Mr Sandilands and Ms Henderson expressed some admiration for the ‘spirit of the contest’, it would have been clear to the audience that the Paralympians in question were being mocked by Mr Sandilands, and that they were mocked for the techniques used to participate and compete in their particular sport.
“The ACMA considers a regular listener of the program, while tolerant of irreverent presentation styles, would still be able to identify what was generally ‘acceptable’ content, and who was likely considered a ‘fair target’ for humour or mocking in contemporary Australia.”
The report said that Sandilands’ comments were “insensitive and hurtful toward the athletes as well as being offensive to the average moderate person in the broader community, including the regular audience of the program, who would have been aware of the potential impact of these comments, not only on the Paralympians that were being described in this manner, but on the wider group of people in Australia with disabilities.”
The ACMA also found that Sandilands offended against accepted standards of decency by making threats to a journalist who wrote about his comments.
Two days after his Paralympics comments, Sandilands said: “If you’ve got no news, write about someone else that’s not going to follow it up and chase it up and find out what really happened, ‘cause I’ve got a lot of time on my hands and lots of money to make things happen.
“Wake up, go away, pick on someone that hasn’t got the ability to destroy your entire life. No, that’s not a threat, that’s a guarantee.”
In a submission to ACMA, HT&E, which owns KIISFM, is reported to have said Sandilands “was, in reality, simply expressing his genuine astonishment at what was involved in some of the Paralympics events, and particularly so for the visually impaired in order to participate in several sports that would ordinarily rely on vision for orientation.”
“Mr Sandilands employs empathetic language such as ‘the poor bloke’ and ‘Jesus Christ, that is a big effort’ which are demonstrative of a compassionate response to what he saw, as opposed to a combative or aggressive sentiment.”
“They (Sandilands’ comments) were not made in an aggressive manner and were not said to provoke others to share in a derogatory attitude towards disabled persons as a group.”
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