Swiss radios tell Jacko to beat it


Three private radio stations in Switzerland have banned songs by pop star Michael Jackson, who is standing trial on child molestation charges in California.

This content was published on February 12, 2005 - 10:19

But other private radio stations, as well as those belonging to the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), have not followed suit.

Jackson denies the charges. The trial, which is set to resume on Monday, is expected to last for months. If convicted he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The three radio stations in question, Radio Lac, One FM and Lausanne FM, are all based in the French-speaking part of the country.

They decided to pull the plug on Jackson's songs following feedback from their listeners.

“It’s not an act of censorship or boycotting. It's a decision taken out of respect for the sensitivity of our listeners,” said the head of broadcasting at Radio Lac.

Similar arguments can be heard over at One FM and Lausanne FM.

“We do entertainment. But the child-molesting accusation levelled at Michael Jackson could shock listeners,” said Fabrice Benedet, head of programming at both networks.

King of Pop

But not all private radio stations agree.

“One has to disassociate the artist from the man. Jackson was really the King of Pop in the 1980s and his old singles are absolute musts,” said Joel Perrier, head of programming at Sion-based Rhône FM.

Perrier added that he was acting on the presumption that the singer was innocent until proven guilty.

Patrick Wyss from Radio Pilatus in the central Swiss city of Lucerne said he was waiting until the trial was over before deciding whether to ban Billy Jean, Bad or Thriller from the radio’s airwaves.

This point of view is shared by Stéphane Duriez, director of programming at the radio stations Fréquence Jura, Radio Jura Bernois and RTN in Neuchâtel.

Trial by media?

“It’s not our job to put Michael Jackson on trial and deliver a verdict before the judges,” he said.

Nevertheless, Duriez has decided not to play the latest single by Jackson.

All the main private radio stations in the German-speaking part of the country are reported to be playing Jacko’s tunes.

The same applies to the SBC’s radio stations across the country.

A spokeswoman for the public broadcaster - swissinfo's parent company - said the SBC was working on the presumption that Jackson was innocent until proven otherwise.

She added that it was also important to distinguish between the man and his work.

Jackson was one of the biggest stars of the pop music world in the 1970s and 1980s.

After a highly successful stint as a member of the Jackson Five, he later went solo.

Jackson's Thriller, released in 1982, became the most successful album of all time, selling more than 47 million copies and winning seven Grammys.


Key facts

Jackson's trial started on January 31, but was delayed after a death in the family of his defence lawyer.
He is accused of ten counts of child molestation and conspiracy, which he denies.
If convicted he could face 20 years in jail.
The trial is taking place in Santa Barbara County Superior Court and could last six months.

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