As backlash against the late King of Pop continues following the release of the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which revived sexual abuse allegations against the singer, radio stations in New Zealand and Canada are pulling his songs from their playlists.
Multiple major radio stations in New Zealand, including MediaWorks, which owns nearly half the country’s commercial stations, have taken Jackson’s music off its airwaves.
In addition, three major Canadian stations have also banned the superstar’s songs. Christine Dicaire, a spokeswoman for Montreal media company Cogeco, told The Guardian that the ban also applies to 23 smaller stations in the province.
Both countries cite the removal of Jackson’s music as a response to listeners’ reactions to the documentary.
Leon Wratt, the content director of MediaWorks, said the decision is not an indication of the station’s personal sentiments on the matter.
“We aren’t deciding whether Michael Jackson is guilty of pedophilia or not,” he said in an interview on MediaWorks’ station “Magic.” “We’re just merely trying to make sure that our radio stations are going to play the music that people want to hear.”
The broadcasters have yet to clarify how long the bans will last.
The two-part mini-series, which aired Sunday in the U.S., documents the alleged grooming, exploitation, and deception of Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who both claim to have been sexually abused by Jackson as children. “Leaving Neverland,” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January, has stirred a significant reaction from the public since its release, many fans saying they don’t want to listen to Jackson anymore. (RELATED: HBO’s Michael Jackson Doc Leaving Neverland Has Sparked an Extreme Reaction)
After seeing Leaving Neverland, I dont have a doubt. Fuck Michael Jackson.
Confusing cuz his music is such a part of my life. I cant listen to it without thinking about what he was doing b4& after those studio sessions.
He wasnt a child molester as a kid, I can listen to those.
— Boots Riley (@BootsRiley) March 6, 2019
— Kevin Falk (@KevinFalk7) March 5, 2019
— Morgan J. Freeman (@mjfree) March 5, 2019
Other broadcasters have denied they have banned the singer’s music, namely the BBC. The British broadcaster told Variety that it has not banned or dropped the “Thriller” singer’s music from its stations. The documentary airs in the U.K. tonight at nine, so it’s possible that might change.