Roast Busters: More advertising pulled from RadioLive

By Heather McCracken, Patrice Dougan

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere are under fire for their interview with the friend of a Roast Busters victim.
Willie Jackson and John Tamihere are under fire for their interview with the friend of a Roast Busters victim.

RadioLive has put all non-news content under extra scrutiny as advertisers flee the station over its handling of the Roast Busters scandal.

Vodafone, Telecom, Countdown and Briscoes suspended all RadioLive advertising today, citing an interview afternoon hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere carried out with Amy, the 18-year-old friend of a Roast Busters victim.

Four other advertisers pulled their campaigns from the station or show yesterday.

Mediaworks said it had put all non-news coverage on RadioLive under extra scrutiny due to "strong emotional feeling around the situation".

Spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the station had "apologised unreservedly for any offence or distress caused to listeners, clients or others by Willie and JT's interview with Amy".

"We would like to reiterate that we in no way condone the actions of the 'Roast Busters' or any violence against women. The 'Roast Busters' is an important developing news story and one that RadioLIVE will continue to cover.

"However, in response to the strong emotional feeling around the situation, RadioLIVE has placed all non-news coverage under extra editorial scrutiny.''

John Tamihere and Willie Jackson fronted a commercial free show today due to the advertiser withdrawals.

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Lorimer said the pair's show would continue to run commercial free until November 15.

She was unable to comment on clients' advertising campaigns as they were commercially sensitive.

"But RadioLIVE would like to reiterate that we in no way condone the actions of the `Roast Busters' or any violence against women. We apologise unreservedly for any offence or distress caused to listeners, clients or others by Willie and JT's interview with Amy."

Mad Butcher chief executive Michael Morton confirmed he had instructed advertising be removed from the Willie and JT Show to elsewhere in the RadioLive schedule immediately. Mr Morton said he would review the matter with MediaWorks next week.

Telecom said in a statement that following the "offensive comments" made by the hosts, its media buying agency was taking action to remove all Telecom advertising from RadioLive.

It came a short time after Vodafone tweeted confirmation it had suspended all advertising with the station until further notice.

Briscoes posted on Facebook this morning that it had immediately pulled all advertising from the Willie & JT, and "this morning we have cancelled all our advertising with RadioLive until further notice," the post said.

"We are not a company that wants to be in any way associated with the unacceptable actions of these presenters."

RadioLive did not mention the Roast Busters controversy in the first half an hour of their midday show.

Earlier today Countdown, which is owned by Progressive Enterprises, said it did not condone the comments made on Willie Jackson and John Tamihere afternoon show.

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"We have now had the opportunity to review our advertising activity, and have withdrawn advertising from this radio station.".

The backlash comes after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted all advertisers on the show and posted their responses to Twitter.

ANZ and Yellow announced yesterday they were pulling their ads from the station, while Freeview and AA Insurance said their campaigns would no longer air during the Willie and JT Show.

Jackson and Tamihere came under fire for their handling of an interview on Tuesday with an 18-year-old girl called 'Amy' who said she was friends with one of the Roast Busters' victims.

Despite an apology on Wednesday, they continued discussions about the subject on yesterday's show, resulting in a guest panellist storming out live on air.

Columnist Matthew Hooton told the presenters he thought their interview with Amy was "morally and journalistically cretinous". He was told to "shut your mouth or you'll be out of the studio" when he accused the presenters of supporting controversial ex-cop Clint Rickards, who was accused of sex crimes in the 1980s.

"I'm out of here," Mr Hooton replied, leaving to shouts of "well get out then, get out".

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The Association of New Zealand Advertisers has responded to the mass pull-out, saying advertisers must be aware of the environment where their advertising appeared.

Chief executive Lindsay Mouat said while advertisers were not censors they must be comfortable their messages are in an environment that did not damage their brand reputation.

"As media fragments it is important that advertisers, and their agencies, ensure they give appropriate attention to the media environment as well as their advertised message."

The pair will be on air today but RadioLive announced in its noon news bulletin that due to advertiser withdrawals, their show would be broadcast commercial-free.

What they said:

ANZ - "While having freedom of speech is an important part of a well functioning media, it comes with responsibilities. ANZ believes Radio Live has overstepped the mark and as a result is pulling its advertising until further notice."

Yellow - "In the current environment we have decided to withdraw our advertising from RadioLive for this campaign."

Freeview - "It's not a viewpoint that's shared by Freeview as a brand so we will be asking that we have our ads on other shows."

AA Insurance - Did not return calls to confirm its position, but in a statement to Wellington blogger Giovanni Tiso said: "In light of the way the interview was conducted and the subsequent apology, we are removing all advertising from this programme pending our full review."

Countdown - "Countdown does not condone the comments made on Radio Live on the Jackson/Tamihere show. We have now had the opportunity to review our advertising activity, and have withdrawn advertising from this radio station."

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Evolving story

What the police said this week and how their story changed:

Sunday

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott tells 3 News: "None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take that to a prosecution stage ... We've told them [the boys] their behaviour is verging on criminal, if not criminal, and suggested it cease."

Monday

Statement is released at 12.41pm by Waitemata district communications manager Beth Bates. Highlights include:

• A full and thorough investigation has been conducted, but in the absence of significant evidence, such as formal statements, there is not enough evidence to prosecute the alleged offenders.

• Detectives have been working on the investigation since 2011 when a teenage girl came forward to police to informally report what had happened to her.

Second statement is released at 5.30pm quoting Mr Scott:

• Two males involved with Roast Busters interviewed by police that afternoon.
Mr Scott goes on to tell 3 News the reason police have not prosecuted anybody is they don't have sufficient evidence at this stage. Investigators' "hands are tied" until victims agree to make a formal statement.

Tuesday

Statement released at 1.32pm quoting Waitemata district commander Superintendent Bill Searle:

• Strongly rejects any suggestion that the inquiry was affected by the involvement of a police officer's son.

Wednesday

• At a 3pm interview in his office, Mr Searle tells the Herald a small number of victims have been identified. But avoids saying how many complaints have been received.

3 News at 6pm: A teenage girl alleges she was raped by the Roast Busters when she was 13. She told her family and they took her to the police to lay complaint. No charges were ever laid.

• Statement released at 7.17pm: Mr Searle confirms a complaint was received in December 2011.

Yesterday

• Statement released at 8.32am by Ms Bates clarifying total number of complaints: Four girls have been identified as victims, and one has made a formal complaint. Three of the girls were in contact with police in 2011. Another girl began discussions with police late last year. Of the four girls, one has gone through the process of making her complaint formal.

- APNZ

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