News, Culture & Society

Kyle Sandilands lands himself in big trouble over offensive joke

Kyle Sandilands breached broadcasting standards by airing ‘offensive’ remarks about Paralympians, according to the media watchdog.

The KIIS 106.5 host will have to undergo sensitivity training following the ‘insensitive and hurtful’ remarks made during a segment in September 2021.

The Australian Communications and Media Industry released a report on Tuesday finding the radio station had breached the code’s ‘decency provision’ twice.

Kyle Sandilands has blasted a Sydney newspaper for ‘manufacturing’ a story about advertisers threatening to pull out of his radio show

The first breach happened when Sandilands and co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson were speaking about the Paralympians on September 1. 

‘Have you been watching the Special Olympics? It’s horrific some of the things,’ Sandilands said.

‘Some poor bloke ran for the high jump and then veered right ’cause he was blind and landed on his arse on the ground.

‘Then, when they were playing soccer, the blind people, I was, I was thinking are you joking, they’re throwing themselves on the ground like sausages to block the ball.

‘And I think good on you, I love the spirit of the contest … but I feel … Jesus Christ … that’s a big effort.’

The ACMA report claimed ‘the Paralympians in question were being mocked by Mr Sandilands, and that they were mocked for the techniques used to participate and compete in their particular sport.’

‘The ACMA considers a regular listener of the program, while tolerant of irreverent presentation styles, would still be able to identify what was generally ‘acceptable’ content, and who was likely considered a ‘fair target’ for humour or mocking in contemporary Australia.’ 

Sandilands was also taken to task over comments he made about a journalist two days later on September 3.

The journalist had reported on the radio host’s remarks about the Paralympians.

‘If you’ve got no news, write about someone else that’s not going to follow it up and chase it up and find out what really happened, ’cause I’ve got a lot of time on my hands and lots of money to make things happen,’ he said.

‘Wake up, go away, pick on someone that hasn’t got the ability to destroy your entire life. No, that’s not a threat, that’s a guarantee.’

ACMA rejected a complaint Sandilands had ‘incited severe contempt and ridicule’ in his comments about the Paralympians.

The first breach happened when Sandilands and co-host Jackie 'O' Henderson were speaking about the Paralympians on September 1

The first breach happened when Sandilands and co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson were speaking about the Paralympians on September 1

‘The ACMA considers that the audience would have likely regarded Mr Sandilands’ comments, while highly offensive, as a reflection of his own strident presentation style, rather than as encouraging others to take up his views,’ the report read.

‘In light of these matters, although the ACMA considers that the Licensee broadcast material that was offensive and ridiculed people because of their disabilities, the ACMA does not consider that the high threshold test of likely incitement of ‘severe ridicule’ in ‘a reasonable listener’ was met, as required for a breach of this provision.’

HT&E, which owns KIISFM, argued in its submission that Sandilands was simply expressing his ‘genuine astonishment’.

‘Mr Sandilands employs empathetic language such as ‘the poor bloke’ and ‘Jesus Christ, that is a big effort’ which are demonstrative of a compassionate response to what he saw, as opposed to a combative or aggressive sentiment,’ it read.

‘They (Sandilands’ comments) were not made in an aggressive manner and were not said to provoke others to share in a derogatory attitude towards disabled persons as a group.’

It is not the first time Sandilands has landed in hot water over his comments after suggesting robbers in Rio should target Paralympians over able-bodied athletes during the Paralympic Games in 2016.

He said disabled athletes participating in the Rio Paralympics were easier targets for theft.

‘If I was a robber in Rio I’d be waiting for the Paralympics to start,’ he said.

The shock jock added: ‘They’re a much easier mark than the able bodied ones.’