The stations claim that they're just responding to what the public want.
The 10 year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death is right around the corner, and the iconic singer is back in the headlines over child sexual abuse allegations. HBO's Leaving Neverland documentary has lit another fire under the Jackson controversy, and now radio stations around the world are responding by pulling the singer's songs from their playlists.
In the documentary, Wade Robson and James Safechuck allege that when they were children, Jackson regularly sexually abused them. They shared their stories in graphic detail, complete with a follow-up interview with Oprah Winfrey on After Neverland. Following the doc, dozens of radio stations are refusing to air Jackson's music including New Zealand stations that broadcast to over half of the population. State-owned RNZ said their decision is “a reflection of our audiences and their preferences”. NZME director Dean Buchanan said, “Playlists change from week to week and right now Michael Jackson does not feature on them.”
A few stations in Canada are following suit. The owner of Montreal's French-language stations CKOI and Rythme, and the English-language The Beat, said Jackson's music would not be played until further notice. Media company Cogeco covers 23 smaller stations and won't feature Jackson on their airwaves, either. These radio stations aren't saying that they believe Jackson is guilty of the accusations, but they are just responding to the public's outcry.
Jackson's estate and his family have openly stated that the documentary is completely false. They claim that it is “an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson." However, the film's director, Dan Reed, said, “People will have to listen to his music in the knowledge that he was a prolific child rapist. If they’re comfortable doing that, fine. If they’re not, well perhaps listen to something else for a while."