radio stations are pulling michael jackson’s songs from the air

The harrowing allegations in ‘Leaving Neverland’ have led a number of radio stations to pull his music.

by Roisin Lanigan
07 March 2019, 11:56am

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Over 25 years since the first allegations of child sexual abuse were made against him, the boycott of Michael Jackson’s music has begun.

Following the airing in the US and UK of Leaving Neverland, a documentary which hears harrowing testimony from two of Jackson’s victims, radio stations around the world have taken the decision not to play the megastar’s music on their airwaves again. Australia’s Smooth FM is the latest to pull Jackson’s music, following at least three other stations in Canada, along with others in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

Perth’s SunshineFM said they had cut the singer from their playlists in response to audience feedback, while SmoothFM said in a statement: “In light of what is happening at the moment, SmoothFM is currently not playing any Michael Jackson songs.”

The events they’re referring to are of course, the detailed and distressing allegations of molestation made against Jackson in Leaving Neverland by Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Both men, who were introduced to Jackson as child performers, detail how they were groomed and abused by the singer, who lured them away from their parents and brought them to Neverland Ranch were he secured extended periods of unsupervised time with both. For Wade, the abuse began when he was just seven years old.

The documentary, which had its UK premiere last night -- airing the first of two parts on Channel 4 -- has divided and horrified audiences. Hardcore Jackson fans protested the UK broadcast outside of Channel 4’s London headquarters yesterday, while the Jackson family have launched an ill-advised PR blitz, denying that the abuse ever happened. “ Leaving Neverland isn’t a documentary,” the family estate said in a statement. “It is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. They [Robson and Safechuck] have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations.

“We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice. Because despite all the disingenuous denials made that this is not about money, it has always been about money. Now that Michael is no longer here to defend himself, Robson, Safechuck and their lawyers continue their efforts to achieve notoriety and a payday by smearing him with the same allegations a jury found him innocent of when he was alive.”

The second and final part of the four-hour documentary airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. Whether the testimony from Wade, James and their families will serve to convince more radio stations and streaming services to boycott Jackson’s music though, is yet to be seen.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Michael Jackson
leaving neverland