Alan Jones has marked the end of his tenure at Sky News with a private dinner with producer Jake Thrupp, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns and MP Tania Mihailuk.
Jones had hosted an 8pm show four nights a week on the News Corp-owned channel since July 2020 after leaving 2GB radio.
But yesterday he revealed his last show would air that evening and claimed he had been ‘cancelled’ by the cable TV channel.
Jones’ show last night was pre-recorded so it barely made a mention of his shock departure from Sky after a 17-month stint.
Alan Jones celebrated his final show after 17 months at Sky News by having a private dinner with producer Jake Thrupp and two close friends
Jones appeared outside his Macquarie Street home around the corner from the exclusive restaurant on Sydney Harbour
The 80-year-old was then spotted at Matt Moran’s ARIA restaurant in Circular Quay dining alongside Thrupp, another man and woman
Thrupp, a friend and Jones leave his Macquarie Street home to head out for dinner at the award-winning restaurant on the harbour
Instead, it was business as usual with the high-profile commentator lamenting liberal bias, vaccine mandates and oddly decrying the lack of poetry being taught in schools.
‘You can still find me on my Facebook page, I ain’t going away. Stay with me and I’ll still be with you,’ he signed off on Thursday night.
Jones briefly noted the show would be his last at the start of the program after a glowing introduction from fellow staunch conservative Andrew Bolt, whose program aired before Jones’.
Bolt said he was ‘really sad’ to see him go, saying he would ‘always fight for the little person’.
Labor Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek and ‘dear friend’ Catherine McGregor were among the guests on his final show who gushed over his achievements over a near six-decade career in the media.
At one stage he awkwardly spruiked his Sky News email address and text line as a way to communicate with viewers, saying that he will ‘still check them’.
The 80-year-old was then spotted at Matt Moran’s ARIA restaurant in Circular Quay dining alongside Thrupp, 24, and the two state Labor MPs.
He was still in the same grey suit and a pink shirt and salmon tie he wore for his final broadcast, and was seen smiling and laughing with his close confidantes.
The three sipped on red wine and shared stories before Jones returned to his Macquarie Street penthouse around the corner from the exclusive restaurant.
Jones, Thrupp and his friends sip on red wine and share stories – possibly plotting the Australian media giant’s next moves
The three sipped on red wine and shared stories before Jones returned to his Macquarie Street penthouse around the corner from the exclusive restaurant
The host was still in the same grey suit with a pink shirt and salmon tie he wore for his final broadcast, seen smiling and laughing with his close confidantes
Jones and close friend Thrupp head out for dinner after the media icon hosted his last show for Sky News on Thursday night
Sky News CEO Paul Whittaker and head of programs Mark Calvert had told Jones last week they would not be renewing his show, despite winning his subscription TV timeslot’s ratings the previous night.
Instead, they were offering the radio veteran a once-a-week slot on News Corp Australia’s new streaming service, Flash, a proposition one insider called an ‘insult’.
Jones had kept what he thought of the offer to himself before declaring his position on his Facebook page at 9am Thursday
The 80-year-old revealed he would be leaving Sky with a 1,625-word polemic in which he noted the changing media landscape and defended his performance at the network.
Just two minutes later Sky announced Jones had ‘regrettably’ decided not to accept a ‘new role’ and would host his final program at 8 o’clock tonight.
Jones signed off from Sky News on Thursday night after 17 months with the conservative news network – claiming through his Facebook account he was ‘cancelled’
The Daily Telegraph sacked Jones as a columnist after weeks of his anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown Covid-19 commentary. A source accused News Corp of going woke by removing the conservative host from its Sky News line up. Jones is pictured with Sky host Peta Credlin
There are rumours Jones could return through a new program only shown through his social media channels.
Jones portrayed last Friday’s meeting with Whittaker and Calvert – neither of whom he named – as the breaking point with Sky but observers have predicted the parting for months.
The Daily Telegraph, which is also owned by News Corp, sacked Jones as a weekly columnist in July after months of him downplaying the seriousness of Covid-19.
While Jones had reportedly been told his columns no longer ‘resonated’ with readers, the official line from News Corp was that the company still supported the broadcaster.
‘The decision to no longer publish Alan Jones’s column in The Daily Telegraph was made by its editor, Ben English, based on the impact the column was having on the Telegraph’s objective to build its audience,’ a News Corp spokesman said.
Former 2GB colleague Ray Hadley (left) unloaded on Jones (centre) in July over his Covid commentary for Sky, describing his conduct as ‘scurrilous, contemptible and undignified’. Jones’s replacement in the 2GB breakfast slot, Ben Fordham, is pictured right
‘I write in my regular Thursday column to advise you that the management at Sky News have indicated to me that they will not renew my contract, which ends on November 30,’ Jones wrote on Facebook on Thursday
‘Decisions about what to publish in News Corp mastheads is the responsibility of the editor. These decisions should not be confused with the company’s corporate position or, in this case, a signal that News Corp Australia no longer supports Alan.’
The spokesman even acknowledged Jones’s strong ratings since joining Sky in July last year after ending his record-breaking career as a breakfast radio broadcaster.
Regrettably Alan has decided not to accept a new role that was offered to him for next year. We respect his decision and know he will be missed by many
Sky News CEO Paul Whittaker
‘Alan is one of Australia’s most accomplished broadcasters; his show on Sky News is achieving strong success and he has a widely read column in The Australian,’ he said.
‘He is a compelling voice that has long represented the values of many Australians and his relationship with News Corp remains strong.’
Jones flatly rejected the suggestion his columns did not resonate with Telegraph readers in comments he gave to one of News Corp’s rival newspapers owned by Nine Entertainment.
‘If the argument has been it’s not resonating, I don’t have to defend myself,’ he said at the time.
‘Have a look at Sky News YouTube, Sky News Facebook and Alan Jones Facebook and you can see. The same column that I write for the Tele goes up on my Facebook page.
‘The public can check it for themselves. Thirty-five years at top of the radio and I don’t resonate with the public? Honestly.’
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford posted this newspaper advertisement to social media on Thursday. The ad features Sky commentators Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Paul Murray, presenter Laura Jayes, reporter Andrew Clennell but not Jones, Sky’s biggest star
Two days before those remarks, 2GB morning presenter Ray Hadley had unloaded on Jones over his former colleague’s Covid commentary for Sky, describing his conduct as ‘scurrilous, contemptible and undignified’.
Hadley writes a weekly column for the Telegraph and 2GB is owned by Nine. Jones left 2GB in May last year, citing health reasons and amid an exodus of advertisers.
In recent times my material hasn’t been widely published on these sites as the company has felt under threat from being cancelled
Jones on Sky’s social media platforms
In July, Jones had offered sympathy for anti-lockdown protesters in Sydney, suggested a 38-year-old who died from Covid had died from something else and called NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant ‘dumb’.
Hadley told his listeners he was sick of ‘getting emails from lunatics, a few of them every morning, about the rantings the night before, saying “oh Alan told me… “‘
‘Let me tell you something,’ Hadley said in an almost 10-minute diatribe. ‘Half of what Alan says is very well researched. The other half is bull****.’
Earlier in July, Jones had cited UK data to claim the Delta strain of Covid was far less dangerous than the original virus, and that vaccinated people were more like to die.
Hadley said Jones was doing ‘himself, Sky News, and the Australian public, a great disservice’ with that broadcast, which Sky corrected and removed from all platforms.
Another clue that Jones may have been on the outer at Sky came in August when a newspaper advertisement promoted the network’s on-air line up.
This along with the Daily Telegraph’s decision to drop Alan’s column is evidence of a clear agenda to cancel right wing voices
Source familiar with negotiations
The ad featured fellow commentators Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Paul Murray, presenter Laura Jayes, reporters Kieran Gilbert and Andrew Clennell but not Jones, Sky’s biggest star.
News Corp also recently launched an editorial campaign for stronger action against climate change, conflicting with some of Jones’s positions on the environment and energy.
Jones was not giving interviews on Thursday but an insider familiar with the negotiations said there was no way he would accept the network’s new offer.
‘The Flash offer was an insult – Flash has 46 likes on Facebook compared to Alan’s 156,000,’ the source said.
RUGBY TO RADIO: A TIMELINE OF ALAN JONES’S CAREER
Jones left 2GB in May last year, citing health reasons and amid an exodus of advertisers. He achieved a record 226 consecutive ratings wins
1961: After leaving school Jones turns to teaching, taking up a role at a state school in Brisbane
1970: He becomes head of English at Sydney’s prestigious The King’s School
1975: After a successful stint as both a teacher and rugby coach at The King’s School, Jones leaves in a bid to win preselection for the Country Party
1978: Jones returns to Sydney and fails to win election to NSW parliament, before becoming a speech writer for state opposition leader John Mason
1979: A year later he began writing for Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser
1982: Jones began as an assistant with NSW’s rugby union side, before taking up the role as Manly head coach and winning the Shute Shield
1984: Jones was offered the role as coach of the Australian rugby union team. He coached the team for four years
1985: His radio career begins at 2UE and lasts for 17 years, during which time he and mornings host John Laws form a formidable partnership
1999: Jones is accused of contracting to get personal commercial support in exchange for favourable ‘unscripted comments, principally for Telstra and Qantas in a scandal known as ‘cash for comment’
2002: Jones switches to rival station 2GB, going on to win 226 consecutive radio surveys
2012: During a speech at a Liberal Party event, Jones claims then Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father had ‘died of shame’ at his daughter’s leadership. When he called to apologise, Ms Gillard refused to take his call
2018: Jones was ordered to pay $3.7 million to the Wagner family after he claimed they were responsible for the deaths of 12 people during the 2010-11 Queensland floods, after the collapse of a wall in a quarry they owned
2020: He announces his retirement at the end of May and starts with Sky News Australia in July
The source also accused News Corp of going woke by removing the conservative host from its TV line up.
‘This, along with the Daily Telegraph’s decision to drop Alan’s column, is evidence of a clear agenda to cancel right-wing voices,’ the source said.
In his Facebook post Jones accused Sky of ‘cancelling’ him after management axed his four-nights-a-week program.
‘I write in my regular Thursday column to advise you that the management at Sky News have indicated to me that they will not renew my contract, which ends on November 30,’ he wrote.
‘It is, of course, the prerogative of any employer to make such a decision; but, given this is the case, I feel an obligation to my viewers to make some observations to avoid certain misconstructions.
‘In all my broadcasting life, the ratings performances have been scrutinised. I have no problem with that.’
Despite never making it into politics himself, Jones became one of the most influential voices at both federal and state level – making and breaking multiple prime ministers and premiers. Former Prime Minister John Howard (right) reportedly employed a staffer just to deal with him
Jones said the company’s reason for not renewing his contract was apparently poor ratings, which he described as an ‘erratic beast’.
But he went on to say this was unfair because he felt his substantial social media following and digital engagement was not being taken into account.
‘When I arrived at Sky News and was signed to a 17 month contract, it was made quite clear to me that the 8PM slot was, in the words of management, a “dead” spot,’ he wrote.
‘It was clear from the outset that my signing at Sky News brought over a new audience to the station.
‘Indeed, one observation was made last year that “since the launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia, the network has seen major growth across its digital platforms”.’
Jones collaborated on a cook book with politician Mark Latham. Upon learning of Jones’s departure from Sky, Senator Pauline Hanson swiftly offered him a job working for her and with Latham, writing: ‘Please stand for the Senate in NSW under the banner of One Nation’
Jones first joined Sky News in 2013 as co-host of Richo + Jones alongside former politician Graham Richardson, then anchored Jones & Co in 2016 before taking on his last program.
He accused Sky News of not posting his conservative content to social media for fear of being ‘cancelled’ and produced various statistics to show he was more engaging than other Sky hosts.
‘My point is, the total who go to the Alan Jones opinion area is, pleasingly, greater than the aggregate of all other Sky News hosts,’ he wrote.
‘In recent times my material hasn’t been widely published on these sites as the company has felt under threat from being cancelled.’
‘I am only offering all of this because, for most of my professional life, I have never defended myself against criticisms of my performance.
At the time he started his radio career with 2UE in 1985, Jones coaching the Australian rugby union team. The Jones-coached Wallabies’ 1986 Bledisloe Cup victory against the All Blacks in New Zealand was the first time that had been achieved in 39 years
‘I merely let the figures speak for themselves, as they did in radio and, as I think you can see from above, they have, in my brief stint on television.
‘May I say, I have enjoyed my experience thoroughly.
‘I have had nothing but support from people in the backroom of Sky News who rarely get a mention; and, apart from my contribution towards raising the viewer numbers, I hope I have also contributed to the morale of the organisation.’
Whittaker insisted it was Jones’s decision to leave, at the same time Sky announced Thursday night’s program would be his last.
‘Regrettably Alan has decided not to accept a new role that was offered to him for next year,’ Whittaker said. ‘We respect his decision and know he will be missed by many.
‘Alan has contributed greatly to Sky News Australia over the years, advocating without fear or favour on the issues important to many Australians.’
Senator Pauline Hanson swiftly offered Jones a job working for her, writing: ‘Please stand for the Senate in NSW under the banner of One Nation.’
Another future employment possibility was raised in July when Jones appeared with radio legend John Laws on his onetime 2GB stablemate’s 2SM program.
‘Do you want a job?’ Laws asked.
‘Put a bit of paper in front of me – you know what it’s like – it’s the same old rules isn’t it, you put a bit of paper in front of somebody,’ Jones replied.
‘They are putting bits of paper in front of me I have to tell you.’
Laws: ‘Oh, be careful what you do. Why don’t you come here and work with me, we could set the world on fire you and me.’
Jones: ‘Why not?’
‘They will not renew my contract’: Alan Jones’s complete statement
I write in my regular Thursday column to advise you that the management at Sky News have indicated to me that they will not renew my contract, which ends on November 30.
It is, of course, the prerogative of any employer to make such a decision; but, given this is the case, I feel an obligation to my viewers to make some observations to avoid certain misconstructions.
In all my broadcasting life, the ratings performances have been scrutinised.
I have no problem with that.
It may seem immodest to point out that the meeting I had with management on Friday, October 29, occurred the day after our program won the ratings in the 8PM slot.
Ratings are an erratic beast, and in the excellent team of broadcasters with whom I have worked, we have all done our share of winning.
But in today’s world of social media, they only tell part of the story.
When I arrived at Sky News and was signed to a 17 month contract, it was made quite clear to me that the 8PM slot was, in the words of management, a ‘dead’ spot.
It was clear from the outset that my signing at Sky News brought over a new audience to the station.
Indeed, one observation was made last year that ‘since the launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia, the network has seen major growth across its digital platforms.’
And, ‘The launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia in July saw the channel’s radio ratings double on the iHeart Radio app, making Sky News Radio the #1 Australian news/talk station on the platform.’
In my brief time that I have been at Sky News, the audience at 8PM has significantly increased.
I will come to that in a moment.
I should also point out that at the meeting on Friday October 29, I wasn’t offered another slot with Sky News, but an alternative offer was made to me to appear once a week on the new streaming service, Flash.
I declined that offer.
In order to avoid any conclusion, contrary to the truth, I should point out here a few things in relation to my program.
Earlier this year, you might recall there was plenty of media noise over the fact that my regular column in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was ‘cancelled.’
All sorts of reasons were proffered, including the fact that, after 35 years of radio success, I was being told that my work ‘didn’t resonate.’
Surprisingly to me, this led to an article by Crikey, with whom you would be familiar.
It said in part, ‘Alan Jones has been dropped by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which claims his columns are no longer resonating with its audience. But is this true? All available evidence points to no.’
This article was on August 2nd, 2021.
It further went on, ‘The number of Facebook likes, shares and comments calculated by social media analysis tool Crowd Tangle can be a rough proxy for how many people on the platform are engaging with Jones’ content. Facebook link-outs remain a major source of traffic for Australian publishers. A look at Jones’ ten most recent columns show that they received an average of 3065 likes, shares and comments across Facebook; a significant number for any Australian publication. By comparison, fellow News Corp stablemate Miranda Devine’s last ten columns had an average of 217 engagements and Piers Akerman’s, 373.’
The story went on, ‘The number of comments on each article can also be used as another rough proxy. Daily Telegraph articles are pay-walled and only paying subscribers can comment on these stories… Alan Jones comes out on top again. His last ten pieces have received an average of 83 comments, more than Miranda Devine’s 59 and Piers Akerman’s 24. Beyond this, Jones’ claims of enormous social media reach, ring true. Over the past six months, his personal Facebook page audience has grown to 140,000 followers. July has been the biggest month of growth, adding 10,000 followers as he stepped up his anti-lockdown content. Likewise, Jones’ content has been a winner for Sky News Australia, too. Its top ten Facebook posts of the last month have all been from Alan Jones’ segments…’
When the announcement of the discontinuation of my column in the Daily Telegraph was made public, Campbell Reid, the Group Executive – Corporate Affairs, Policy and Government Relations, on behalf of Michael Miller, the Australian boss of News Corp issued a press statement which said, ‘These decisions should not be confused with the company’s corporate position, or, a signal that News Corp Australia no longer supports Alan. Alan is one of Australia’s most accomplished broadcasters; his show on Sky News is achieving strong success and he has a widely read column in The Australian. He is a compelling voice that has long represented the values of many Australians and his relationship with News Corp remains strong.’
On the social media front, it was said that November 2020 was ‘another extraordinary month for Alan Jones on social media.’
In that month, according to socialinsider.io, there were 12.6 million views of Alan Jones video on digital platforms, with 68% of the audience coming from YouTube.
I made mention of information on the US election being censored by ‘powerful interests’ in the media.
That post reached 4.2 million people on Facebook and delivered 2.4 million video views with 617,000 of those watching for longer than one minute, which was described as ‘an extraordinary result’ for Facebook where the audience typically has a short attention span.
That post on the US election had 41,300 comments and 78,000 shares of people sharing the post to their own Facebook page.
I remember interviewing Mick Mulvaney, the former Chief of Staff to Donald Trump and that interview had 1.3 million views, 11,500 comments and I was told it attracted ‘more than 4000 new subscribers’ to the Sky News Australia YouTube page. There are other metrics about which I feel obligated to inform you.
Sky News rightly boasts significant personalities with strong and legitimate opinions.
As a result, people often search the internet in order to refresh themselves with something we have said.
In other words, put simply, if you’re not saying anything that is relevant to the viewer or the public, they are not likely to be much interested in checking out your content.
In the modern idiom, people Google whomever it is they want to access.
I have been fortunate in encountering some people who are remarkably au fait with this process, because, understandably, I wanted to monitor my own reach and judge the relevance of what I was saying.
The results are significant.
According to SEMRush, on average, the number of searches, per month, for Alan Jones, to date, is approximately 31,700.
My colleague, the gifted Andrew Bolt, is the only person with more Google ‘searches’ at 40,000.
But I am sure Andrew won’t mind me pointing out that of the 31,700 searches for Alan Jones, 26,200 go straight to my SkyNews.com.au opinion page – 26,200 out of 31,700.
By comparison, and I would never seek in any way to diminish Andrew, who does magnificent work, as he is also a splendid columnist and many may well be searching for something he recently wrote.
So, only 15,800 of his 40,000 searches go to SkyNews.com.au and seek his opinions.
My point is, the total who go to the Alan Jones opinion area is, pleasingly, greater than the aggregate of all other Sky News hosts.
This is a significant point because the bulk of the Sky News audience, and management have acknowledged this, comes from online viewing; or, put another way, direct viewing of programs constitutes about 25% of the way in which viewers access Sky News content.
The rest comes from online – Sky News YouTube, Sky News Facebook or the Sky News website, SkyNews.com.au.
In recent times my material hasn’t been widely published on these sites as the company has felt under threat from being cancelled.
Nonetheless, the figure I have indicated above is significant.
People have been googling Alan Jones and immediately the bulk of them go to the Sky News website to access Alan Jones’ opinions.
Another metric from the month of October indicates that my Facebook page’s average engagement per post (Likes, Shares and Comments) is 1.473% compared to that of Sky News Australia’s Facebook page, which is 0.052%, which is 28 times greater.
Again, my Facebook page’s average engagement rate per page is vastly superior to that of Sky News Australia’s Facebook page.
I am only offering all of this because, for most of my professional life, I have never defended myself against criticisms of my performance.
I merely let the figures speak for themselves, as they did in radio and, as I think you can see from above, they have, in my brief stint on television.
May I say, I have enjoyed my experience thoroughly.
I have had nothing but support from people in the backroom of Sky News who rarely get a mention; and, apart from my contribution towards raising the viewer numbers, I hope I have also contributed to the morale of the organisation.
In particular, I want to thank my sponsors for their support of the program.
I want to thank my fellow hosts, because no one knows more than I do how difficult it is to put a program together each night.
They are gifted, generous and decent friends who’ve all enjoyed significant success.
They make, and will continue to make, unselfish and nationally significant contributions to the world of the media and public information.
I have always been grateful for their support and I wish them and the organisation at Sky News the very best in the tasks and challenges ahead.
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