Shock-jock Jones broke rules with '0.001%' greenhouse claim
Alan Jones "researched the figures himself", 2GB told ACMA. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Sydney radio station 2GB, the former partner of failed Melbourne talkback station MTR, has been found to have breached the broadcasting code over Alan Jones's claim that "human beings produce 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere".
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that Harbour Radio Pty Ltd, the licensee of 2GB, had breached the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice by "failing to use reasonable efforts to ensure that factual material was reasonably supportable as being accurate" during the broadcast on March 15, 2011.
"The Authority found that this was presented as a statement of fact, it was not substantiated by the licensee and there was no evidence that reasonable efforts had been taken to ensure that it was reasonably supportable as being accurate, as required under the codes," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in releasing the finding.
The radio station was also found to be in breach on two counts of failing to comply with the complaints-handling provisions of the code.
The radio station defended itself against the accuracy charge by claiming it provided production resources, researchers and writers to its presenters in the preparation of programming content.
However, 2GB admitted that "no research was conducted by staff and that Mr Jones researched the figures himself", the ACMA report stated.
ACMA also found that a "correction" offered by Jones on June 3, in which he cited an earlier interview with climate change expert David Karoly, was not "adequate and appropriate", as required by the code.
The media watchdog also considered two charges against the station relating to Jones's attack on Prime Minister Julia Gillard and various other political figures in a number of broadcasts in 2011.
On June 29, he called for the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, to be put "in the same chaff bag as Julia Gillard and throw them both out to sea".
On June 30, he said "You dope, Clover Moore, you dyed-in-the-wool dope, Clover Moore."
On July 6, discussing the financial impact of the carbon tax, he said of Ms Gillard: "The woman is off her tree - and quite frankly they should shove her and [then Greens leader] Bob Brown in a chaff bag and take them as far out to sea as they can - and tell her to swim home."
He also attacked Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young ("brain dead"), economist and government adviser Ross Garnaut ("that fool") and independent MP Rob Oakeshott ("that fool"). The chaff bag also made a number of repeat appearances, usually with the Prime Minister inside it.
ACMA considered whether 2GB had breached a licence condition that proscribed it from broadcasting material that "is likely to incite, encourage or present for its own sake violence or brutality" or that "is likely to incite hatred against, or serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, any person or group of persons because of age, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preferences, religion, transgender status or disability".
ACMA found in favour of 2GB on these matters, stating that, "whilst disparaging and disrespectful", Jones's comments "were not strong, intense or inflammatory enough to be capable of being construed as urging violence or brutality against those public figures".
ACMA also found in favour of the station in a sixth investigation, into a claim that Jones's colleague Chris Smith had not made adequate efforts to represent alternative significant views on climate change during a discussion in which the topic was discussed by Smith and climate change sceptic and mining industry supporter Professor Ian Plimer on March 11, 2011.
ACMA found that the station was not in breach because, on other occasions, "reasonable efforts were made to present significant [alternative] viewpoints".
As a result of the findings, ACMA reported, 2GB is "reviewing its compliance processes to identify shortcomings ... the thrust of the review is the licensee's compliance processes across all of its major production teams, concerning factual accuracy and the presentation of 'significant viewpoints'."
ACMA has not put a timeline on the review process but stated today that it hoped it would be completed swiftly, as "the matter has gone on long enough".