Since the broadcast of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, radio stations in Canada, New Zealand and Australia took his music off the air temporarily.
His music is as iconic as his dance moves but looks like neither is popular enough to go up against the controversial content of the recently released documentary, Leaving Neverland. And now, millions of fans in different countries may never hear Michael Jackson's music on the radio again. In what has come as a shock to millions of MJ fans across the globe, several radio stations have decided to no longer play music by the King of Pop. The news comes following the release of the Dan Reed documentary which hit the screens on March 3.
In the 80s and 90s, Michael Jackson had captured the imagination of a global audience with his music and videos. And, of course, who can forget the incredible dancing and high range of his voice? But looks like the legendary musician's unquestionable talent was no match to the controversial documentary. He was accused before his death as well, and the nightmarish allegations have returned with the HBO documentary, which his estate claims is character assassination and unsubstantiated without evidence.
Thriller, which is the second best-selling album in the United States, had received eight Grammys in 1984 but the late musician was dogged by controversy and allegations of child abuse and grooming for years. Many agree that MJ's alleged exploits documented in Leaving Neverland do not warrant the late musician the fame his name continues to generate. And now, radio stations across the world are honoring the audience's requests and taking his music off their playlists.
In Montreal, Canada, three radio stations have pulled the songs like Beat it, Thriller, Wanna be starting something and They don't care about us, to name a few. Canada's Cogeco, which owns French-language stations CKOI and Rythme and the English-language The Beat, said in a written statement that "We are attentive to listeners’ comments, and last night’s documentary created reactions", according to CityNews1130. Meanwhile, twenty-three stations in Quebec are also expected to do the same for the "time being", according to Vice.
In New Zealand, stations owned by MediaWorks, New Zealand Media Entertainment and the national public broadcaster Radio New Zealand have temporarily stopped playing his music. According to Ladbible, MediaWorks content director Leon Wratt said, “We aren’t deciding whether Michael Jackson is guilty of pedophilia or not. We’re just merely trying to make sure that our radio stations are going to play the music that people want to hear.” "You've got 500 songs on a playlist and you have to make the decisions which 500 are the ones people will want to listen to," he added.
In Australia, Nova Entertainment Group, which owns smoothfm, also halted the broadcast of MJ's music for the interim. "The decisions we make about the music we play on any of our stations are dependent on the relevance to the audience and the current context," said Paul Jackson, Nova Entertainment's Group Programme Director, according to SMH. "In light of what is happening at the moment, smoothfm is not currently playing any Michael Jackson songs."
The ripple effect of televising the documentary in the US and the UK has been wide-ranging and has left the late musician's estate managers scrambling for a shield. MJ's estate has launched a defense by suing HBO for $100 million for the damage to the former iconic star's reputation.
MJ's estate, which is managed by John McClain and Jackson’s former lawyer John Branca, was quoted as saying by The Guardian that the Dan Reed documentary is “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death”, and added that “the film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact”.
The damage to his reputation has been quick since the documentary seems to validate the previous allegations. Leaving Neverland details the accusations by two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who had previously supported him against similar allegations and later accused him.