Triple J to Move Hottest 100 Poll Away From Australia Day, Communications Minister Asks Network to 'Reconsider'

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A music festival-goer displays an Australian flag in Sydney, Australia.

Australia’s communications minister has urged Triple J management to rethink the decision to shift the date of its popular Hottest 100 poll.

The national youth network, operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, announced it won’t hold its countdown on Australia Day, January 26, after inviting listeners to weigh in. Australia Day, the official national day, is held on the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet, but many indigenous Australians observe the annual holiday as a day of mourning. And many listeners of Triple J aren’t comfortable with the tacit connection between a celebratory day-long music session and what many are now calling “Invasion Day”.  

Over the past year, Triple J consulted with musicians, community leaders and representative groups on a date change as public debate ramped up on the issue. In August, the broadcaster launched a questionnaire, the results of which were heavily in favor of moving the Hottest 100 to a different date (60 per cent). 

However, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has joined the chorus of politicians unhappy with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s announcement. 

"The ABC shouldn't be buying into this debate," he said in a statement. "Australia Day is our national day. The ABC should honor it and not mess with the Hottest 100."

Fifield said he was "bewildered" by the decision and that he’ll be asking the board of the state-funded ABC, which has the ultimate programming and editorial responsibility, to "reconsider this."

While acknowledging the “complex issue” had many different standpoints, Triple J pulled the trigger Monday on a securing a new date from 2018. “It’s fair to say there’s been increasing debate around 26 January and there are a lot of perspectives on what it means to different Australians,” reads a statement.

“As the public broadcaster representing all Australians, triple j and the ABC doesn’t take a view in the discussions. However, in recent years the Hottest 100 has become a symbol in the debate about Australia Day. The Hottest 100 wasn’t created as an Australia Day celebration. It was created to celebrate your favorite songs of the past year. It should be an event that everyone can enjoy together – for both the musicians whose songs make it in and for everyone listening in Australia and around the world. This is really important to us.”

The Hottest 100 Poll was launched in March 1988, though the countdown didn't settle into a regular Jan. 26 broadcast date until 1998. Flume’s “Never Be Like You” won the most recent countdown, with listeners casting a record 2,255,110 votes, up 7% from the previous year.

Next year's music poll will instead be held on Jan. 27, with the songs that just missed the cut -- those ranked 101 to 200 -- to get spun the following day.


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