Michelle suspected her 14-year-old daughter Rachel of engaging in sex and drugs, but no rock and roll, so she volunteered her daughter to participate in a lie detector segment on popular morning drive programme “The Kyle and Jackie O Show”. Rachel complained about being forced to participate but her pleas were largely ignored.
The first question pertained to ditching school. Rachel said she had not skipped school, but the lie detector disagreed. Next, Michelle asked Rachel if she had sex. Rachel became audibly uncomfortable and whined to her mother, who was apparently smiling at her discomfort. Rachel’s voice changed as she proclaimed that she had been raped two years prior. The air was sucked out of the studio. Then Kyle tactlessly asked if that was the only experience Rachel had; the quip has earned him the ire of critics. Michelle admitted to having already known about the rape and Rachel questioned why her mother even asked if she had sex. Michelle concocted the excuse that she meant other than that instance.
Both Kyle and Jackie O offered free counselling to Rachel, and Kyle astutely pointed out that they should have known about the alleged rape beforehand. Neither Kyle nor Jackie O are journalists and as such could not be expected to have performed adequate background checks to ensure no punches would be pulled.
From the outset, the prize of Pink tickets for participating was Michelle’s apparent motive for making Rachel take the test. The question remains: was Rachel in on it?
That was the incident. Now let’s look at the response.
“ Media Watch” presenter Jonathan Holmes’ scathing indictment of Kyle and Jackie O spread sympathy for the supposed rape victim Rachel.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority issued the statement shown on 31 July, claiming that it will investigate whether the program met clause 1.5(a) of the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice & Guidelines.
ACMA has never investigated Kyle and Jackie O’s incessant talk about sex before. But that a child was explicitly victimised in the conversation raised eyebrows.
After 137 complaints, ACMA decided to investigate the treatment of radio show guests involved in stunts such as this, and whether their interests are sufficiently protected by existing regulations. Still, the exact reasons for the complaints are unknown. Was it the stunt itself, the mother’s behaviour and the issue of privacy, the shocking revelation, or the host’s reactions that piqued the ire? 137 complaints, 500000 listeners—you do the math. That’s .0274 percent.
Commercial Radio Australia’s Codes of Practice & Guidelines “aim to ensure that commercial radio broadcasters have regard to prevailing community standards in broadcast material, while protecting their right to responsible freedom of speech.” But ACMA doesn’t think this threshold is enough and plans to institute tighter regulation.
Commercial Radio Australia contends that ACMA is overreaching, not abiding by procedures in place, to enact unnecessary regulations of an already well-regulated industry.
ACMA’s investigation poses a threat to free speech in Australia, creating an Orwellian environment. This incident, whilst not isolated, may unfairly punish other broadcasters who do abide by current standards. Furthermore, ACMA’s actions shift the focus from the improper behaviour of guests to that of the radio hosts. Kyle’s throwaway remark was only a poor attempt to save his segment, not a premeditated jab as usually expected from him.
Kyle felt like the scapegoat and published a same-day not-so-apology on alternative media outlet The Punch .
I’m not sure I agree that the mother was genuinely concerned for her daughter.
Maybe Kyle wasn’t thinking—per usual—and his mind was reeling, but no way did he not realise what he was saying.
Kyle cried “poor me”…
… yet claimed he is only sorry for the girl, not himself.
Australia doesn’t recognise the legal right to privacy, so despite possible tort violations—unreasonable intrusion and disclosure of private facts—Rachel has no recourse.
Elsewhere, like in the United States, Rachel would have a case. For the record, unreasonable intrusion refers to intentional intrusion “upon the solitude or seclusion of another” if said intrusion would be considered “highly offensive to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities” and disclosure of private facts comprises publicity given “to a matter concerning the private life of another…that…would be highly offensive to a reasonable person” and is not of legitimate public concern.
Rachel’s case would likely prevail on the basis that her sexual past is not of legitimate public concern to a reasonable member of the community with decent standards.
Michelle may have defamed Rachel by accusing her of drug use. Truth is a common defence. We’ll get to this later in the semester.
New South Wales law provides for children to be allowed the opportunity to express their views on their safety, welfare and well-being. Queensland law recognises a similar right.
Rachel seemingly thought that answering her mother’s questions would compromise her safety, welfare and well-being; and whilst given a token opportunity to express her dissent, her view was not given credence.
Commonwealth-wide law recognises the importance of protecting a child’s best interest. Parental responsibility is key.
Parental responsibility encompasses the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority parents exercise over children. Said best interests include matters of children’s care, welfare and development.
In 1964 Marshall McLuhan famously opined, “The medium is the message.” Reality media lack substance, and only the form remains. Reality programming of exhibitionist or confessional nature depicts “civilisation as we know it”—sadly. With the sheer volume of participants willing to subject themselves to wild antics, it is no wonder that reality media continue to thrive; consequently, this willingness minimises the punch of persecution in reference to the derision they experience. Indeed, the shaming of reality media participants plays an integral role in the form and content of the genre.
According to the most recent Nielsen survey that ended 1 August, Kyle and Jackie O seized the top rating for FM breakfast shows, snagging a 12 percent audience share. This incident occurred at the end of the survey period. Coincidence?
Reality radio is cheap, easy and profitable entertainment. If the medium is persecution, what is the message? In fact, reality shows like “American Idol” caution contestants that their appearances may be “disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing” and may expose them to “public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation”. Don’t you want to go on?
Kyle and Jackie O return to the airwaves on Monday. 2Day FM, Austereo’s most lucrative station with half-a-million listeners, reels in $15 million—one-third of its total ad revenue—from “The Kyle and Jackie O Show” alone, and ratings backlash is doubtful. Some advertisers pulled their funding from the timeslot, but not from the station; watch for reinstatement of their investment so they can again bank on Kyle and Jackie O’s devoted listeners.
Rachel refuses to press charges against her alleged rapist, and whether she has made good use of the proffered counselling is unknown.
Aunts and a cousin with assumed names and blurred faces contacted “A Current Affair” to expose the conniving Rachel—which is merely a pseudonym.
Presenter Tracy Grimshaw observed that the controversial lie detector segment aired live on radio without the standard seven second delay. Reason unknown.
Cashing in on their 15 minutes, the aunts Donna and Rhonda contended that Rachel had consensual sex while drunk when she was 13—after all, how else would he have been able to put on a condom otherwise? Regardless, sex with a 12- or 13-year-old is designated sexual assault.
Graffiti, drinking and drug use are all allegedly part of Rachel’s repertoire. Upon learning of Rachel’s supposed rape, the mother, given the assumed name of Sharon this time, didn’t seek to press charges or find Rachel counselling. Unable to deal with the question of what justifies Sharon and Rachel’s behaviour, Donna left the interview midway through.
Cousin Amy painted Rachel as a liar who didn’t refuse the then-14-year-old perpetrator, and only regretted having sex when friends disapproved.
Rachel, a frequent runaway, has been a subject of the media before, appearing on “Missing Persons Unit” at age 13. Whereas her mother seemed genuinely concerned for Rachel’s well-being back then, Rachel showed no remorse for causing her mother repeated grief. She now spends weekdays with an uncle and weekends with her mother.
Rachel and her mother have yet to speak out in the aftermath. Clearly they need counselling. Kyle has suffered greatly from the stunt, having lost his “Australian Idol” judging gig. And yet, “The Kyle and Jackie O Show” has received awards nominations and the most recent Nielsen ratings demonstrate the show’s popularity. Since it grabbed the top spot in its time slot, it’s no coincidence that the show will return to the air on Monday.
Remember, ACMA hasn’t made any rulings yet, but may rebuke the radio industry. The content of Kyle and Jackie O’s show may not be as laden with sexual references; but Austereo never seriously considered canning the show for good anyway. Kyle and Jackie O surely will rake in the ratings and return to their moneymaking ways.
Vyle and Tackie O sink to new low A MECO6902 commentary piece presentation on the scandal that rocked the shock jocks’ radio world Ashley Zeldin Thursday, 13 August 2009
ACMA plans to look into existing voluntary codes of practice for commercial radio to evaluate safeguards for participants—especially children—in live programs.
ACMA intimated it will introduce tighter regulations after the inquiry.
Mounting evidence suggests the codes are not keeping pace with community standards and industry practice.
Commercial Radio Australia’s Codes of Practice & Guidelines “aim to ensure that commercial radio broadcasters have regard to prevailing community standards in broadcast material, while protecting their right to responsible freedom of speech ”.
More regulation of the airwaves risks limiting Australians’ tenuous freedom of speech, evoking George Orwell’s 1984 atmosphere.
ACMA imposing broad regulatory measures would be akin to a tempest brewing in a teapot.
The behavioural issues of the mother and daughter have taken a backseat to ACMA.
Raising the issue of community standards minimises the focus on the improper behaviour of guests—such as the circumstances of this case—and turns the issue into what is acceptable to ordinary listeners.
“ The mum hadn’t said anything about the rape. She was concerned that her daughter was on drugs or was sexually active. Like a lot of mothers worried about their kid, she just wanted to find out what was going on.”
Australia does not recognise the legal right to privacy, thus Rachel has no recourse against Kyle and Jackie O; Austereo, owner of 2Day FM; or her mother, for the unreasonable intrusion and disclosure of private facts torts .
In the United States, Rachel’s case likely would prevail because
her sexual past is not of legitimate public concern to a reasonable member of the community with decent standards
In deciding a case, “the social value of the information, the depth of the intrusion into private areas and the extent to which the complainant has placed himself…in the public eye ” comes into consideration.
Was Rachel keen to appear on the show, thrusting herself into public awareness? Or she was forced by her mother?
Furthermore, the information that was made public was not newsworthy .
According to the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998 § 9 in New South Wales
“ Wherever a child or young person is able to form his or her own views on a matter concerning his or her safety, welfare and well-being, he or she must be given an opportunity to express those views freely and those views are to be given due weight in accordance with the developmental capacity of the child or young person and the circumstances .”
Rachel seemingly felt that answering her mother’s questions would compromise her safety, welfare and well-being; and whilst given a token opportunity to express her dissent, her view was not given credence.
Of course, the notion that Rachel’s mother tread on her agency means nothing until—and only if—Rachel actually pursues legal action.
According to the Family Law Act (1975) §60 and §61 , protecting the child’s best interests is the primary concern.
The court also delineates parental responsibility , and recognises the extent to which a child’s parent
“ has fulfilled, or failed to fulfill, his or her responsibilities as a parent, and…the extent to which each of the child’s parents has taken, or failed to take, the opportunity…to participate in making decisions about major long-term issues in relation to the child…and to communicate with the child”.
“ Rachel” and her mother have yet to speak out since the incident. Clearly they need counselling.
Kyle has taken the most flak, including the loss of his “Australian Idol” judging job. He’ll bounce back.
“ The Kyle and Jackie O Show” has received several awards nominations, and the latest ratings revealed the duo had taken over the top spot in their time slot; Kyle and Jackie O were recently reinstated and will return to radio Monday. Coincidence?
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