Radio Stations Pull Michael Jackson Music In 'Leaving Neverland' Backlash
From muting to protests, the reaction to the controversial documentary 'Leaving Neverland', which details allegations of child sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, has been swift.
The documentary, directed by Dan Reed, details the experience of two men who alleged that Jackson befriended and abused them as children in the early 1990s.
The reaction upon the film airing in the US -- ahead of its release in Australia and the UK -- has been divisive, with many expressive horror and disgust over the artist's alleged actions toward the boys, while Jackson's supporters have condemned the film and even sent hateful messages to both subjects of the documentary, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
Following the premiere of the explosive two-part docuseries, Oprah Winfrey hosted After Neverland, where Winfrey -- herself a survivor of sexual abuse -- interviewed Robson and Safechuck about their experiences and offered her support.
“This moment transcends Michael Jackson,” Winfrey said in the special. “It is much bigger than any one person. This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption that is like a scourge on humanity.”
Meanwhile, the allegations have caused a ripple effect globally, with radio stations in Australia, New Zealand and across the rest of the world choosing to boycott Jackson's music following the release.
Nova Entertainment Group -- which owns smoothfm -- is one of the many that have pulled Michael Jackson songs from playlists, with Programme Director Paul Jackson saying in a statement:
"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."
Canada's Cogeco Media -- which owns several radio stations in Montreal, Canada -- have also temporarily pulled Jackson's songs from airplay as a result of the bombshell claims.
"We are attentive to the comments of our listeners, and the documentary released on Sunday evening created reactions," spokeswoman Christine Dicaire said in a statement.
A Dutch radio station -- NH Radio -- has also followed suit, saying it would also cease to play Jackson's music for a few weeks.
"I don't think people can listen to the songs the same way anymore. They are supposed to make you happy, make you sing and dance," radio editor Arjan Snijders said on Tuesday.
A 7 ft 6inch statue of Michael Jackson -- which was donated by former Fulham FC chairman Mohamed Al Fayed in 2014 -- has also been removed from Manchester's National Football Museum in light of the allegations.
Yet while many radio stations have taken a definitive stance, others -- such as Australian Radio Network (ARN) -- are waiting for a solid reaction from their listeners.
"At this stage, ARN stations with music formats that play Michael Jackson won't be removing his music. However, as always, we will continue to regularly review our playlists based on what audiences want to hear," an ARN spokesperson said.
Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) revealed they have no immediate plans to remove the singer's tracks from their catalogues either.
"We take allegations of this nature very seriously. However, these remain allegations and therefore we currently intend to continue to play his music on occasion," an SCA spokesperson said.
While there's been an outpouring of support for the victims of Leaving Neverland, according to the Evening Standard, ahead of the film's release in the UK, a group of 20-40 people began to protest outside Channel 4 headquarters, chanting, "Facts don’t lie, people do", as well as holding signs demonising the allegations.
Leaving Neverland will air across two nights on Network 10. You can watch part one from 8.30pm Friday 8 March, and part two from 8.30pm Saturday 9 March. Leaving Neverland will also be fast-tracked to 10 play and 10 All Access from 10.01am Friday 8 March.