No advertisers ... Alan Jones. Photo: Dean Sewell
ALAN JONES'S radio show will be entirely free of advertising in response to the outcry over his comments about Julia Gillard's father.
His employer, the Macquarie Radio Network, has taken the unprecedented step of indefinitely suspending all advertising on Jones's breakfast show on 2GB after a week of sustained pressure that has led to it losing more than 70 sponsors and advertisers.
The move is likely to cost the network more than $80,000 a day in forgone revenue, but its executive chairman, Russell Tate, said money would not determine how long Jones's show was quarantined from advertising.
"The decision obviously comes at a very significant short-term cost to MRN," Mr Tate said. "At this stage we don't know [how long it will be]. The breaking point will not be determined by financial costs.''
The move is a response to a sustained campaign via social media and email targeting businesses that support the program. The campaign was prompted by outrage over Jones's comment to a Young Liberals function last month that Ms Gillard's father had "died of shame" over her "lies". The outrage was only exacerbated by the apology Jones offered last Sunday in which he spent most of more than 40 minutes berating the Prime Minister and her government.
Last Monday, a trickle of businesses withdrew their advertising from either Jones's program or 2GB. By the middle of the week big advertisers were flooding out, leaving Jones with only small local advertisers.
The total suspension of advertising on Jones's program will probably have the effect of quarantining the rest of 2GB's line-up from the effects of the campaign. Many advertisements are booked across the network as a whole, so the only way to guarantee they will not appear on his show is to withdraw from the network entirely.
Mr Tate said clients had been inundated with correspondence from protesters. "One client received 6000 emails in a day,'' he said. ''It's causing a significant interruption in our clients' businesses, so we've called time out.''
He said the company had not discussed removing Jones, who is a part owner of the station via a complicated options structure.
One-third of Jones's options - 1.333 million both issued and redeemable at no cost to him - are redeemable at the end of this month, dependent on his show having increased revenue by 5 per cent year on year.
The final tranche is due next year on the same proviso - a target that may now be beyond him.