Radio Stations Across the Globe Stop Playing Michael Jackson’s Music Because of "Leaving Neverland"
Several radio stations across the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have ceased playing Michael Jackson’s music amid the release of Leaving Neverland. In the new documentary, Wade Robson and James Safechuck detail the alleged sexual abuse they endured at the hands of Jackson.
NH Radio became the first station in the Netherlands to boycott Jackson’s music, which was announced ahead of the documentary’s Dutch premiere on March 8. The station said it was concerned that listeners would hear the songs and make negative associations.
“You no longer listen to the music in a neutral way,” the station said. “We want you to be able to listen to the songs in an uninhibited way.”
NH Radio’s ban will last a few weeks, after which a decision will be made as to whether or not the music will be played again.
In Australia, The Nova Entertainment Company has pulled Jackson’s music from its easy listening station Smooth FM, the only member of its fleet which plays past hits.
“The decisions we make about the music we play on any of our stations are dependent on the relevance to the audience and the current context,” said Paul Jackson, Nova Entertainment Group Program Director.
In New Zealand, state-owned RNZ and rivals MediaWorks and NZME have opted out of playing Jackson’s music. The listener base of all three networks covers over half of the New Zealand population. The decision was made as “a reflection of our audiences and their preferences,” said MediaWorks, and the network’s audience will guide how long the ban lasts. The only exception to RNZ’s ruling will be if the song is played as part of a news story or if it provides color for a commentary piece.
In Canada, French-language stations CKOI and Rythme, as well as the English station The Beat, stopped playing Jackson’s music on Monday, March 4, according to the owner.
Still, Australian Radio Network and Southern Cross Austereo, two major Australian broadcasters, said they have not made changes to the music they play. A spokeswoman for Southern Cross Austereo said the network will continue to play Jackson’s music on occasion because, although they do take allegations like the ones made in Leaving Neverland very seriously, they remain allegations.
Jackson was born in 1958 and began performing with his older brothers in 1964. His solo album Thriller became the best-selling album of all time in 1982. The police investigated him due to child abuse allegations in 1993, and another allegation against him led to a trial in 2005, at the end of which he was acquitted. He died four years later.
Leaving Neverland has been sold for broadcast in 130 territories so far.