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Kyle Sandilands found to have breached decency standards by ACMA

Kyle Sandilands’ controversial comments about the Virgin Mary breached the rules relating to generally accepted standards of decency, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found.In September last year Sandilands sparked national outrage when he “joked” on his KIIS FM breakfast show that the Virgin Mary was probably impregnated “behind the camel shed”.“I thought…

Kyle Sandilands’ controversial comments about the Virgin Mary breached the rules relating to generally accepted standards of decency, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found.

In September last year Sandilands sparked national outrage when he “joked” on his KIIS FM breakfast show that the Virgin Mary was probably impregnated “behind the camel shed”.

“I thought Mary was his (Jesus’) girlfriend but apparently it was the mother,” he said on air.

“And the mother lied obviously and told everyone, ‘Nah I got pregnant by a magical ghost’. Bulls**t.”

He also called anyone who believed in the Bible story “dumb”.

“You might believe everything that was written down 2000 years ago to be absolutely accurate. Good on you, you’re dumb. Dumb as dog sh*t,” he said.

ACMA received 180 complaints alleging that the segment was offensive and incited hatred and ridicule of Christians.

The authority announced today that an investigation (made under the Commercial Radio Code of Practice) found the segment to be in breach of rules relating to generally accepted standards of decency, but was not in breach of rules relating to inciting hatred and severe ridicule because of religion.

“Australians are generally tolerant of irreverent humour and critical discussion about religion,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said. “But they would not expect a host of a broadcast program to derisively criticise people’s intelligence because of their religious beliefs.

“Mr Sandilands overstepped the mark in terms of the generally accepted standards of decency in this case.”

Sandilands apologised on air for his comments, saying last September: “I never intended to purposely upset anyone. Obviously, I have upset people and I am sorry for it. There’s nothing else I can do but to say, hey, I am sorry for that.”

At the time Sandilands claimed that someone published his mobile phone number online after his Virgin Mary comments and he received hundreds of angry calls.

“Some were very, very aggressive, a lot of people hung up … there were threats,” he said. “But the main thing I took out of it was, you know me, I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion and their own religious beliefs and no one has the right to take that away from them. But what I didn’t realise until I started taking these calls was that I’d stepped on the belief of other people and that’s what I’d done wrong.”

ACMA took into account Sandilands’ apology and the fact KIIS FM removed the offensive material from its website.

KIIS FM also “counselled” Sandilands and vowed it would ensure its staff legal compliance training would reference the broadcast and breach findings.

“The ACMA considers these actions as sufficient remediation by the licensee in this case particularly given it has not had any breaches of the decency provision, across any of its programs, in the past 10 years,” ACMA said in a press release.

In response to the ACMA finding, an ARN spokesperson said: “ARN accepts the ACMA’s final decision and findings regarding the breach of the Commercial Radio Code in relation to decency standards and no breach of the code in relation to inciting severe ridicule on the basis of religion. ARN thanks them for taking into consideration the number of extensive steps ARN took to address the broadcast of September 18, 2019.

“At the time of the broadcast, ARN recognised the sensitivity of the content and acknowledge that its broadcast caused a level of concern in some sections of the community.

“ARN has not had any breaches of the decency provision in the past 10 years and regrets any distress caused by the segment. In the time immediately following the broadcast, ARN took a number of actions to remedy the situation, including broadcasting Kyle Sandilands’ unprecedented, lengthy and sincere on-air apology which also remains available on the KIIS website. Australia’s Christian and Muslim faith leaders accepted Kyle’s apology, which was also published in a public joint statement.”

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