Kyle and Jackie O

The Kyle & Jackie O Show is a top-rated, often controversial, Australian breakfast radio show hosted by Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O on 2Day FM.
A recent news article indicates that the popularity of Kyle and Jackie O due to the increasingly crude methods of uncovering sensational news:
Kyle and Jackie O may have shocked their last jock


The Incident

In July of 2009, as part of an on-air segment, a 14-year-old girl revealed that she had been raped as she was subjected to a live polygraph test on 2Day FM's Kyle & Jackie O Show. The incident went on to spark angry criticism and numerous calls to child welfare authorities, with the girl apparently forced into participating by her mother. When her mother asked the teenager if she was sexually active the girl replied: "I've already told you the story about this ... and don't look at me and smile because it's not funny". She then raised her voice and said: "Oh, OK, I got raped when I was 12 years old". Sandilands then responded by saying: "Right, is that the only experience you've had?", before the segment was brought to an end.(To see the full transcript of the incidence see <>)

Sandilands, who was corresponding from New Zealand at the time, later wrote on a News Limited website that he and his colleague Jackie "were stunned" after hearing the comments. "To tell you the truth I was floundering around, signalling to the producers and Jackie down the camera indicating that we had to get it off air," he wrote. "I didn't realise I had said have you had any other experiences?"

But while the radio station was seen to go into damage control, Sandilands asked for understanding and said he had panicked. "I went into a slight panic as how to get the thing off the air and I was more focused on making that happen than on what I said."
He said that he had spoken to the girl's mother and the family will receive counselling. "We have done everything that we can possibly do to help them." (SMH, July 29: 2009)

Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse also known as sexual assault. Sexual abuse includes non-physical or physical contact.

Non-physical sexual abuse means that the offender only exposes their genitals to children, or conducts masturbation in front of children, or makes sexual advances before children.

Physical sexual abuse, including sexual abuse of children who touch or fondle sensitive parts of the body (such as the girl's breast or external genitals, the boy's genitals), forcing children to sexual advances and using sexually suggestive style to touch his body, deliberately causing friction on the genitals, attempting intercourse with a child and forcing intercourse with a child (including oral sex, vaginal intercourse and anal sex).

Attempted intercourse with a child and forced sex with children is the most serious sexual assault, that is rape. Victims of child sexual abuse is not limited to girls, boys can also be incurred sexual harassment and sexual assault, serious rape. Children, talked about here, generally refers to children under the age of 18. The difficulty of this situation, however, centres around the age of consent. At present, the legal age of consent is 16. The age gap between 16 (age of consent) and 18 (technical adulthood) opens many children to legitimised sex acts, reducing the protection that should be available to 16, 17 and 18 year olds, who are still immature and unable to protect themselves- as the majority of these teenagers are still at high school. Until the age of consent is raised to 18, and allows for a broader span of protection of minors, children over the age of 16 are going to continue to be subject to actions and abuse that could otherwise be avoided.

Child sexual abuse problems exist around the world. A series of studies conducted in 19 countries (including South Africa, Sweden, the Dominican Republic) have shown that the incidence of girl child sexual abuse was 7% ~ 34%. In the United States, according to the results of several national surveys, it is estimated that by the age of 18 there will be one quarter of girls and one-sixth of boys who have been sexually abused.
The problems of child sexual abuse have aroused more and more attention. A growing number of studies have shown that child sexual abuse is a very serious factor that can lead to physical health problems, and social maladjustment. The media is one responsible aspect. Conventions and laws are also vital to help resolve this issue of child sexual abuse.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

(see more on
The Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first instrument to include the whole range of international human rights— including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights as well as aspects of humanitarian law.

The articles of the Convention may be grouped into four categories of rights and a set of guiding principles.

Guiding principles:
Survival and development rights:
Protection rights :
Participation rights:

Children are innocent beings, and they know little about the complex world. Therefore, the above principles are indispensible. The so called shaming the children and alert children in the case was worth doubting. They also have their dignity and need special protection. This leads to the question as to what a child is. Although there is no universal definition of child, a common characteristic is a human being between the age of birth and puberty. Children would probably suffer from no apparent effects to severe impacts, which would affect the growth of the youth.

The Psychological Impact of the Incident

The psychological impact of the ‘Incident’ can be framed under the term ‘parental responsibility’, which refers to the key responsibilities that parents have in relation to their children’s long term needs, such as matters concerning their health, education and development. The 14 year-old girl, Rachel, ‘interviewed’ on the Kyle and Jackie O show, appears not to have had a ‘responsible’ adult concerned about her health or her long term development. One of the long term psychological effects of childhood abuse is betrayal. Children feel betrayed because they are dependent on adults for nurturing and protection and they may also feel betrayed by those who they feel have failed to protect them. A parent is legally responsible for their child if aged under 16 years, as a child has no legal standing until they are 16 years of age. Therefore, if a parent has neglected their responsibility of protecting their child, who is going to take on this responsibility?

An article in The Australian, entitled "Responsibility goes off the air, Don’t humiliate kids for radio ratings", (July, 31, 2009) highlights the lack of responsibility of any of the adults involved in this on air incident.
The article refers to research that shows that sexually active children such as Rachel, are often dealing with serious problems such as parental dysfunction, psychological problems and coerced sex.
The article goes on to say that: “…astonishingly Sandilands tries to gouge more out of her as though the rape of a child is just one item in a buffet of possible sexual experiences. She is silent. Suffering the forced violation of her body, her abuser walking free for the past two years, she is given an on-air mauling; her human rights violated a second time. It didn’t matter that she was scared. Nothing should stand in the way of a young girl’s public shaming and the audience’s titillation.”
The on air incident is apparently not isolated. The program has presented a range of sexual stunts. “According to MediaWatch, in past lie detectors episodes “contestants have had their honesty tested on subjects like STDs, masturbation, anal sex, threesomes …”
“On May 6, 2009, Sandilands and others (in a show syndicated around the country) held a competition in the station office to see who could masturbate the fastest and who had the largest sperm count. With armloads of porn, they were sent to cordoned off toilets. One returned and wiped his “sticky” hand through Jackie’s hair.”
Maybe someone should look more closely at self regulation. It seems like a very irresponsible act, for any mother to choose to place her child and herself on such a ludicrous show for any reason. It is a bad influence and all this proves that basically, the lack of respect in Australia and around the globe has been growing and only seems to be getting worse. There’s not much of it to be found in the Kyle and Jackie O show, where children like Rachel are preyed on, but rather treated as mere fodder for entertainment and ratings.” However, all blame does not belong to the Kyle and Jackie O show itself, but more blame should be given to the parent/s of the child, Rachel. For Rachel, to be raped by someone, would have been a serious incident, however, knowing this, the mother still chose to put her daughter on live public radio.

At the same time we have children in many parts of the globe which are uncharted by the media's attention, and persistently given the cold shoulder by developed world's leaders, which shelters people from the realities of human existence. In the sublime days before 11 September 2001, when the powerful were routinely attacking and terrorizing the weak, and those dying were black or brown-skinned non-people living in faraway places such as Zaire and Guatemala, there was no terrorism. Then the weak attacked the powerful, spectacularly on 9/11, there was terrorism" (Jagger A.M, 2005). This quote highlights how we are routinely sheltered by what goes on in the rest of the world. There is no doubt that incidences like these do have terrible psychological repercussions, but we need to remember that the world is not a fair place. The fairness doctrine states that "life should be fair and always exactly equal for everyone" (Stevens, T.G, 2005). But is this egalitarian or even 'utopian' idea possible? This would be fantastic if it were true, and we could make life like this. Although, if group A puts a lot of effort into such things as work, education, compassion, making the world a better place, and there was group B, which consists of murderers, rebels, terrorists, thiefs, vandals, rapists and the like, would you want group A and B to be classified equally at the same level? Free will comes into motion and unfortunately, there are people who behave inappropriately every day.
The truth however is that it can never be true, no matter how hard we try, there will always be situations that will overcome our abilities as humans, and which will remind us we need to be grateful for every day we live on earth. How can anyone argue that a tsunami crisis is fair? People need to realise that the damage has been done to the child, and even though there may be uncontrollable variables that could impact the child even further, it is not what these are, it is what we can do to try to make the situation better. The psychological impacts of incidences like these are going to impact the child, except it is hurdles like these that make us stronger as people. If we continue to shelter ourselves from realities, then we will never develop as people.

How to Protect Children and Avoid Child Sexual Abuse?

As mentioned in the class, the government and regulatory body should function under such circumstances. First and foremost, media is one central way to implement the government's policy. Media can be employed to publicize the approaches to educate children and parents, e.g. people who abuse children sexually, usually induce children that they are doing good for children and promise them to give favors or presents. So parents should provide the basic needs for children. This kind of knowledge should be imparted. Secondly, it is about the source. Researches should be done on the abusers, and psychological treatment should be employed for the cure of abusers.
Third, children should be taught about the rights they have so as to protect themselves. All walks of life should be alert to promote the healthy development of our next generation.

Reactions and Responses

Karen Willis of the NSW Rape Crisis Centresaid she was disgusted by the entire segment. "I was pretty appalled with the whole process from beginning to end," Ms Willis told AAP. "Setting up a young woman like that is unethical in the extreme. "The girl was just abused again and it's not good enough." (SMH, July 29: 2009)

After being inundated with calls, NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney referred the matter to a joint investigation response team of police and the Department of Community Services.
"What has been referred to the joint investigation response team is the rape claim," she told ABC Radio. Ms Burney said the Department of Community Services had also met the girl and her family. "I'm very pleased to be able to say the young woman is getting support and she is also getting counselling."
"Whether or not they knew the claim of a rape is irrelevant. The fact they had a 14-year-old girl there, asking her about sex, is the focus and the inappropriate action here.'' (SMH, July 30: 2009)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) also said it received a number of complaints from listeners regarding the stunt - and are launching investigations into the matter.
‘‘The investigation will focus on whether the content of the broadcast met clause 1.5(a) of the code, which provides that ‘all program content must meet contemporary standards of decency, having regard to the likely characteristics of the audience of the licensee’s service’. (SMH, August 18: 2009)

The broadcast also led major sponsor Qantas to remove advertising from the show pending review, as did many smaller advertisers (MediaWatch, 2009).

Possible Outcome?

Following the suspension of Kyle Sandilands after two controversial on air segments involving a child and a woman, the Australian Communications and Media Authority began to investigate the case. This consequence is an example of that supports one of Mill’s views on liberty, which is that individuals in society are entitled to freedom of speech and liberty, “…so long as it does no harm to anyone else.” ( Part of the public response to this issue has been to support putting a seven second delay on broadcasts “…to give broadcasters a chance to stop objectionable material going to air.” (SMH, 7/10/09). In response to this, there has been a legal claim that programs using the seven second delay process are no longer ‘live’ and so don’t fit into the investigation. One positive outcome, however, has been a suggestion that the rules to protect children should change, “…to protect children in radio stunts, irrespective of whether their parents give consent…” (SMH 7/10/09).

Responsibility through Self-Regulation

ACMA - the Australian Communications and Media Authority

In July 2005, ACMA was established to continue to 'achieve self-regulation, while ensuring industry compliance with license conditions, codes and standards. The ACMA monitors the effects of regulations to endure they are responsive to the community's needs' (ACMA 'about' page).
What needs to be addressed in this summary, and indeed in any regulatory department, is the grey area that can be defined as the 'community's needs'. As Ben Miller argues, a 'fracture point of liberalism is community standards' (lecture, 17/9/09) and this taking-for-granted of the term 'community' leads to much vulnerability in interpretation. If great decisions (such as Codes of Conduct or Behaviour ) are based on assumptions made over what defines and who constitutes a community, then in practice Kyle and Jackie O-style shows could be protected by what some define as the exclusive community standards. The incident highlighted above, although it has not yet been decided whether it was in breach of any codes of conduct, may ultimately be protected by vague or overly-general codes. It is then necessary to ask who constitutes departments such as ACMA, whether they are transparent as an organisation, and whether they are influenced by their relation to the media creators. Once this is established, it becomes easier to define what 'community' means, and most importantly, for the sake of whom. The media is self-regulating. AFAIK ACMA was set up by media organisations acting in concert to remove the requirement for government regulation. Self regulation is probably better for the media than the alternative, such as applies in non-liberal countries like China, where the government pressures the media to conform to certain patterns.
Judges overseeing cases of libel sometimes refer to the ‘chilling’ effect of cramping the activities of the media. There seems to be a bias in place within the collective mind of the judiciary, that a free media is a good thing. If the media feel constrained by a judgment in a libel case that could become a precedent for other cases, then they might freeze when confronted by a similar situation, and NOT publish, and therefore, the democratic process would suffer.

2DayFM responsibility

The real story lies in, although the show is the responsibility of 2DayFM, the license holder Austero Network, and the broadcasters Kyle and Jackie O themselves (who are also the show's producers). Live radio, like live television it has been argued is about as dangerous as it gets working in the media. Embarrassing mistakes or a sensitive legal issue can be dealt with or edited out, in the case of live radio the ten-second delay or dump is utilised to prevent such incidents or segments from airing (Price, 2009).

Following the incident, it was revealed that Kyle and Jackie O broadcast their breakfast radio show with the radio equivalent of the safety net. With 2DayFM affirming that the pair refused to work within the industry standards of the seven-second delay button. A 2DayFM staff insider revealing that it was Kyle’s belief that “pure” live radio provided “better entertainment” that Kyle believed “the kill button kills the truth” (Byrnes & casey, 2009).The question is then raised that if 2DayFM had been operating under codes of conduct laid down by the broadcasting authority ACMA then the radio segment could have been “dumped” or blacked out. While this seven-second delay is not enforced or legislated in the Broadcasting Act, ACMA after the incident did come out to say that it was “standard industry practice” to utilise delay technology (Byrnes & Casey, 2009).

Interestingly Steve Price (2009), presenter of 2UE has also weighted into the debate arguing that if ACMA had not been so obsessed, concentrating all their efforts on AM talkback radio, specifically targeting John Laws that ACMA should have been more active in policing standards and protocols across all radio programs like Kyle & Jackie O morning breakfast show.

Hence when Kyle and Jackie O did return to air the following Tuesday, Austero Network promised (following their internal review) that stricter controls will be in play to prevent such incidences from occurring in the future; including the industry standard seven-second dump button and some prerecording of segments.

Other related incidents

Besides the case of the 14 year old, the Kyle and Jackie O show has come under criticism a number of other times for their controversial messages on air. Shortly after returning to the air after the 14-year old incident, Kyle Sandilands once again attracted controversy when discussing the weight issues of comedian Magda Szubanski. Szubanski had recently lost 25 kilograms in a bid to become the new face of Jenny Craig. Sandilands alluded to the fact that Szubanski could have lost more weight in a concentration camp, "you put her in a concentration camp and you watch the weight fall off ... like she could be skinny," he said. This triggered a reaction from Szubanski who said "I couldn't give two hoots about what Kyle says about me, but to trivialize what happened to people in concentration camps is abhorrent".

Such incidents raise questions on levels of 'harm' tolerance and sensitivity. It is clear that programmes such as the Kyle and Jackie O show often attract high levels of interest due to their controversial nature. It is evident need to balance controversy to maintain ratings and sensitivity is a constant battle. Certain issues and subjects, such as children and the holocaust are sensitive topics with less tolerance of 'harm'. Nevertheless the subjectivity of such sensitivity levels is makes it extremely hard to codify a set of guidelines for such issues. This battle will go on indefinitely.

Works Cited:

Byrnes, H & Casey, M. (2009) “No radio safety net for Kyle and Jackie O”, August 1, website,28383,25866368-10388,00.html, accessed September 24.
Price, S. (2009). “Kyle Sandilands goes radio gaga”, August 2, website, accessed September 24.
Sydney Morning Herald. (2009) 'Kyle's Big Mouth in Nasty Relapse', September 9, website,, accessed 18/10/09.
Sydney Morning Herald. (2009) 'Lie Detector Stunt Backfires on Radio', July 29, website, , accessed 23/10/09.
Sydney Morning Herald. (2009) 'Radio Rape Case to be Investigated', July 30, website, , accessed 23/10/09.
Sydney Morning Herald. (2009) 'Watchdog launches decency probe into Kyle and Jackie O stunt', August 18, website, , 23/10/09.
MediaWatch (2009) "Fun- Kyle and Jackie O Style", website, accessed September 24 2009
South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault Australia. (n.a).
Jaggar, A.M, 2005, ‘What is Terrorism? Why Is It Wrong, and Could It Ever Be Morally Permissible?, Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol 36, No 2, Pg 204, 9th of November 2007, Philosophers Index
Stevens, T.G, 2005, Anger/Aggression, viewed 09/10/09, < >