I wrote a blog when the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) handed down a decision to place strict licensing restriction on Austero (Vile Kyle’s license holder) which would have imposed significant fines in the event that any of the shows on 2day FM broadcast material that was offensive or demeaning to women or girls. In the blog I called it, “A surprisingly gutsy decision” (read it here), it would appear that I was right, and I spoke too soon. They have reversed their decision.
Now ACMA argues that they haven’t actually backed down at all saying that the new code was not a back down, rather a slight alteration. The decision says that, “‘program content must not offend generally accepted standards of decency…having regard to the demographic characteristics of the audience of the relevant program’.” I’m not a lawyer or anything, but it seems to me that that isn’t really the same.
As I pointed out in the April blog, majority of the listeners to the Kyle and Jackie O show are women. So that’s the audience. Content can’t offend generally accepted standards of decency, with a largely female audience.
What I liked so much about the original licensing restrictions was that they were a message about what we can reasonably object to on our airwaves and within our public discourse. For some reason overt sexism and statements trivializing violence against women are still allowed to be a part of the language used in the mainstream media. Outrage is never in short supply, consequences are rare in this world where it seems like feminists are the only people that still care.
Words, and the meaning of words, are intensely powerful. While the outcome of the licensing may well be the same whatever the words the statement has changed. Where ACMA once responded saying that the sort of language Kyle used was no longer appropriate in this day and age that was a message. Now it’s blunted by the retraction.
ACMA had an opportunity to send a message to women and men that said that sexism has no place in mainstream media, violence against women has no place in our culture and that there would be consequences for those who continue to flaunt the decency standards we expect for those who are given a giant microphone. They turned their back on that message with this decision.
I don’t know about you all, but I’m really disappointed by this turn around. To think that there might have been a real consequence, a real message sent and then for the patriarchy to win out yet again is piss weak.
What do you all think?