Australian Radio Stations Ban 'Insensitive' and 'Poor Taste' Songs Amid Bushfire Crisis

Brett Hemmings/Getty Images
A CFA Member works on controlled back burns along Putty Road on Nov. 14, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. 

Australian commercial radio stations are pulling potentially “insensitive” songs from their playlists as the nation grabbles with the ongoing bushfire emergency.    

Southern Cross Austereo’s national Hit and Triple M networks this week yanked songs from their rotation which contain lyrics relating to fire or burning.

"Out of respect for the devastation impacting so much of our community, we have removed any songs that could be considered insensitive or in poor taste across both the Hit and Triple M networks nationally," a SCA spokesperson told reporters.

The Hit Network includes contemporary hit radio stations 2Day FM in Sydney, Fox FM in Melbourne and B105 in Brisbane, while Triple M’s metropolitan stations focus on a mix of rock, sport and comedy.

It’s unclear by what process the songs would be delisted, and for how long. Though it’s questionable whether tracks like The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” or Katy Perry’s “Firework” would make the cut. Also under scrutiny would be one of prime minister Scott Morrison’s favorites, John Farnham’s “Burn For You.”

A spokeswoman for Australian Radio Network, which operates the Kiis and Gold networks, said the company is “mindful of how some songs may affect our audience, especially given the devastating impact of the bushfires.”

Speaking to media this week, Nova chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson said his company was “conscious of the sensitivities music and lyrics can have.” He added, “Several months ago we looked at the playlists for all our stations and took off all songs that might cause offence. We also have a call to action every hour advising listeners on how they can support or donate to organizations like the RFS, CFA, RSPCA and Red Cross.”

Bushfires continue to rage across the country as emergency services tackle high temperatures and dry, windy conditions.

Since the start of the southern summer, the unprecedented emergency has killed at least 27 people and razed more than 2,100 homes. In NSW alone, experts say the fires have contributed to the deaths of over a billion animals.

The music industry is fighting back as artists and companies from around the world donate cash to fire fighters and wildlife organizations.

There’s a real sense of unity in the land Down Under as benefit concerts are announced on what feels like a daily basis, raising millions of dollars for good causes. Sydney's ANZ Stadium will host the all-star Fire Fight Australia concert next month, and an announcement is pending on the return of Sound Relief.


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