“Leaving Neverland” has already started to cause a minor ripple effect in the music business. Following the airing of the HBO documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged child sex abuse, three major radio stations in Montreal, Canada have pulled the plug on playing Jackson’s music. The stations are owned by radio giant Cogeco Media. A spokesperson for the media company told Variety the decision was made because of the documentary, which has prompted listeners to be vocal about not being comfortable with hearing Jackson on the radio.
“We are attentive to the comments of our listeners, and the documentary released on Sunday evening created reactions,” Cogeco Media said. “We prefer to observe the situation by removing the songs from our stations, for the time being.”
The three radio stations that pulled Michael Jackson from the air are CKOI, Rythme, and The Beat. The spokesperson told Variety the decision extends to Cogeco stations in smaller markets in Quebec. As of now, Cogeco stations are the only to have dropped Jackson songs from the airwaves. While fellow company Corus Radio told The Canadian Press it has no current plans to stop playing Jackson’s music, it did mention it is “monitoring the situation closely.”
Whether or not U.S. radio stations follow in Cogeco Media’s footsteps remain to be seen. Variety spoke with Cumulus, the second-largest radio network in the country, and the company said it would not remove Jackson’s music since it is “never in favor of censorship.” As for the country’s largest radio network, iHeartRadio, the decision to pull Jackson from the air will not be made at the corporate level.
“This is a local market decision where the company is allowing local Program Directors to make the right decision regarding airplay for their communities,” a representative for iHeartRadio told Variety.
“Leaving Neverland” aired March 3 and 4 on HBO. The documentary from Dan Reed features interviews with two men who claim Michael Jackson sexually abused them over years when they were children and teenagers. The film has been condemned by Michael Jackson’s estate, which filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO last month.