(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Radio stations in Australia, Canada and New Zealand are refusing to play Michael Jackson’s music in the wake of fresh allegations of child sex abuse against him.
Sydney’s Nova Entertainment yesterday became the latest radio group to announce it is taking the late King of Pop off the air in response to public opinion.
The move comes after the broadcast of an American documentary, Leaving Neverland, that featured two men who claimed Jackson sexually abused them for years.
“In light of what is happening at the moment, SmoothFM is not playing any Michael Jackson songs,” local media quoted Nova’s programme director Paul Jackson as saying.
The documentary has not yet been broadcast in Australia. A second major Australian radio network, ARN, said it was “closely monitoring audience sentiment in relation to individual artists”.
In New Zealand, the star’s songs are now almost totally absent from the airwaves, after being pulled by the country’s two biggest radio networks, MediaWorks and NZME.
NZME group director of entertainment Dean Buchanan confirmed Jackson’s material was off the air, although he shied away from talk of a ban.
Meanwhile, public broadcaster Radio NZ said Jackson’s songs did not feature on its playlists anyway.
The HBO documentary, which aired in the United States on Sunday, has rekindled long-running questions about Jackson’s relationship with children.
Two men, Mr James Safechuck and Australia-born Wade Robson, say Jackson sexually abused them when they were aged 10 and seven.
There had been persistent rumours throughout Jackson’s life, but no allegations were substantiated.
The four-hour, two-part documentary – which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year – has made sure those allegations continue a decade after he died of an overdose.
Jackson’s estate has denied wrongdoing and filed a US$100-million (S$136-million) lawsuit against HBO.
The 53-page complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims the cable network was violating a “non-disparagement” agreement by airing Leaving Neverland.
Earlier, dozens of Canadian radio stations said they would not play Jackson megahits such as Billie Jean and Bad for the time being.