Sydney radio personality Alan Jones broadcast comments likely to vilify people of Middle Eastern descent and encourage violence in the lead-up to the Cronulla race riot, the Australian broadcast regulator has found.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said Harbour Broadcasting Pty Ltd, licensee of commercial Sydney radio station 2GB, had twice breached Australia's broadcasting code in the days before the December 2005 riot.
It said compliance measures could range from suspending or cancelling 2GB's licence to lesser penalties including fines and requiring staff to attend compliance training programs.
The station's Breakfast with Alan Jones program came under ACMA scrutiny following complaints from listeners about material aired between December 5 and 9, 2005.
The regulator found the Commercial Radio Code of Practice 2004 was breached by comments aired on Jones' top-rating breakfast program during that period.
Those comments contravened the code by being "likely to encourage violence or brutality" and "likely to vilify people of Lebanese background and of Middle Eastern background on the basis of their ethnicity".
ACMA's report focused on Jones' broadcasting of correspondence from listeners about tensions at Cronulla in the days before the December 11 riot.
It said while the comments were "presented for a purpose in the public interest, being discussion of factors contributing to unrest in Cronulla ... ACMA was not persuaded that the relevant comments were presented reasonably and in good faith".
In a statement, Macquarie Radio Network chief executive Angela Clark dismissed ACMA's findings as "seriously flawed and ill-founded".
She said 2GB and Jones were opposed to violence and had repeatedly said so on air at the time.
Talkback radio, by its very nature, aired the sometimes controversial views held in the community, she said.
"A broadcaster's use of listener material does not always indicate agreement with that material," Ms Clark said.
"In this case ... Alan Jones repeatedly urged listeners to refrain from acting on the calls for violence.
"Instead (he) called on the police and state government to ensure a full and appropriate police response to community divisions and tensions and for lawbreakers to be dealt with swiftly by police."
On December 7, Jones read on air a comment from a listener who recommended that bikie gangs confront "Lebanese thugs" at Cronulla train station.
"It would be worth the price of admission to watch these cowards scurry back onto the train for the return trip to their lairs," Jones read on air.
"And wouldn't it be brilliant if the whole event was captured on TV cameras and featured on the evening news so that we, their parents, family and friends can see who these bastards are."
ACMA found the listener's comments breached section 1.3(a) of the code.
It found that comments made by Jones in his December 8 broadcast implied that people of Middle Eastern background were responsible for raping women in western Sydney.
However, ACMA dismissed complaints about other comments aired on December 5, 6 and 9.
ACMA will be writing to Harbour Radio shortly about proposed action against the broadcaster.
ACMA says Jones' broadcasts are the third breach of the vilification provision of the code of practice by Harbour Radio in the past two years.
In a separate matter, Jones is facing 12 months jail and/or a fine of up to $5,500 for naming on air a child witness in a murder trial.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Helen Syme is due to consider penalties, which also apply to Harbour Radio and Nationwide News, on April 20 at Downing Centre Local Court.ACMA press release
The Australian Communications and Media Authority details its findings in the case of broadcasts made by 2GB in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots.
News and politics