The airing of HBO’s two-part Leaving Neverland documentary has sent ripples across the music industry regarding its divisive allegations levelled against iconic pop-star Michael Jackson and his questionable history with minors. While some have rushed to defend the singer’s legacy, others have urged to denounce it, though for a handful of Canadian radio stations the decision seemed pretty clear cut. The Beat, CKOI, and Rythme – all Cogeco-owned radio stations – have announced that they have immediately pulled all Jackson material from their playlists and will cease and further exposure of the artist.
A Cogeco representative explained to Variety the rationale behind their decision, stating “We are attentive to the comments of our listeners, and the documentary released on Sunday evening created reactions,” and that “we prefer to observe the situation by removing the songs from our stations, for the time being.” While another major Canadian broadcast company, Corus Media, continues to keep Jackson in their rotation, they have admitted that they are “monitoring the situation closely.”
Canada does not appear to be the only place where continued playback of Jackson’s catalogue is being reconsidered in light of the documentary’s allegations. MediaWorks and NZME, two of the largest broadcast companies in New Zealand, have both issued statements informing listeners that radio stations owned by either company will no longer be playing Michael Jackson for the time being.
When it comes to the issue of Jackson playback south of the border, however, the stance seems a bit more laissez-faire. iHeartRadio, the largest radio conglomerate in the States, has left the decision up to the stations themselves while Cumulus, the second-largest radio network in America, are keeping the singer in their stations’ rotation due to the quite-American idea that they are “never in favor of censorship.”
The cultural reevaluation of Jackson’s persona and work inspired by the documentary isn’t just limited to radio plays, either, with Manchester’s National Football Museum promptly removing from their premises a statue of the singer initially erected in tribute following his 2009 death.