Multiple radio stations drop Michael Jackson music over new child abuse claims

Michael Jackson walks out of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on the fourth day of his child molestation trial in this March 3, 2005 photo. (Getty Images North America/AFP)
Updated 07 March 2019
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Multiple radio stations drop Michael Jackson music over new child abuse claims

  • The move comes after the airing of a US documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ featured two men who claimed Jackson sexually abused them for years
  • The HBO documentary has rekindled long-running questions about Jackson’s relationship with children

SYDNEY: Radio stations in Australia, Canada and New Zealand are refusing to play Michael Jackson’s music in the wake of fresh allegations against him of child sex abuse.
Sydney’s Nova Entertainment on Thursday became the latest radio group to announce they are taking the late “King of Pop” off the air in response to public opinion.
The move comes after the airing of a US documentary “Leaving Neverland” featured two men who claimed Jackson sexually abused them for years.
“In light of what is happening at the moment, SmoothFM is not currently playing any Michael Jackson songs,” local media quoted Nova’s program director Paul Jackson as saying.
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.
The two companies between them dominate commercial radio.
“We aren’t deciding whether Michael Jackson is guilty of pedophilia, we’re just making sure our radio stations are going to play the music people want to hear,” MediaWorks director of content, Leon Wratt, told Magic FM.
He said the decision was “a reflection of our audiences and their preferences.”
NZME group director of entertainment, Dean Buchanan, confirmed Jackson’s material was off the air, though 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, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, say Jackson sexually abused them when they were aged seven and 10.
There had been persistent rumors about abuse throughout his life, but no allegations were ever 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 $100 million lawsuit against HBO.
The 53-page complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims HBO was violating a “non-disparagement” agreement by airing “Leaving Neverland.”
“Ten years after his passing, there are still those out to profit from his enormous worldwide success and take advantage of his eccentricities,” the suit claimed.
The decisions not to play Jackson’s music will no doubt further tarnish his brand and could result in a loss of royalties.
But it is far from clear that digital listeners are abandoning the singer in the same way, and “The Essential Michael Jackson” is still the 65th most downloaded album in Australia.
Earlier, a chain of dozens of Canadian radio stations said they would not play Jackson megahits such as “Billie Jean” and “Bad” for the time being.
“We are attentive to the comments of our listeners, and the documentary released on Sunday evening created reactions,” Christine Dicaire of Cogeco said in a statement to AFP.
“We prefer to observe the situation by removing the songs from our stations, for the time being.”
In Britain, where “Leaving Neverland” was set for release Wednesday and Thursday, reports said the BBC had also shelved his music.
While a spokeswoman for the network said it does not ban artists, the organization said in a statement: “We consider each piece of music on its merits and decisions on what we play on different networks are always made with relevant audiences and context in mind.”


Makkah all set for its first flower festival

Sea of flowers at Muzdalifah district in Makkah. (AN Photo by Abdulmohsen Doman)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Makkah all set for its first flower festival

  • A symposium on environmental planning, and the design of green spaces such as parks, gardens and squares will also be held
  • The flower festival continues until March 23

MAKKAH: A carpet of flowers featuring 1 million blooms will be one of the main attractions as Makkah hosts its first flower festival.

The event, which begins on Tuesday at Muzdalifah, has been organized by the city’s municipality in cooperation with the Arab Urban Development Institute and King Saud University. It will be officially opened by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.

Raed Samarqandi, the director of the municipality’s department of media and publications, said that the festival is unique and has serious objectives.

“It aims to improve the environment, fight pollution and show an image that suits the value of the city and its holy sites,” he explained. “The festival will coincide with the 20th symposium on afforestation, titled “Suitable afforestation for the environmental conditions of Makkah — the central region and holy sites,” on March 19 and 20.

The symposium will feature representatives of governmental sectors and scientific bodies and include discussion of papers addressing many the issues in the city, such as the state of afforestation in Makkah, the latest techniques in environmental planning, and the design of green spaces such as parks, gardens and squares.

Makkah Mayor Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Quwaihes has invited speakers from the private sector, universities, research centers, and agricultural and afforestation companies to contribute and help raise awareness of these local issues.

The flower festival continues until March 23.