Kyle Sandilands may have been one of the most repulsively cruel broadcasters in recent memory, but that doesn’t justify News Ltd tracking down and publishing the private financial arrangements between him and his banks. This is indefensible, and whoever leaked that material may be in a great deal of trouble under the Privacy Act:

Meanwhile, Sandilands appears to be millions of dollars in debt, documents show. In December last year he took out a ******* mortgage on his ********** with ***********.

His ************ mansion had a ********* mortgage registered with the ******* in **********.

(The details edited out of that blockquote should never have been reported and I’m not repeating them here.)

Who the hell gave those “documents” to Holly Byrnes and Ben Butler? And what made them think they had any right to publish them?

What they were right to publish was the desertion of 2DayFM’s former (and probably future) collaborators American Express, Optus, Qantas and Channel 10, now pulling advertising dollars from Sandilands’ Austereo program. Because none of those advertisers gave a damn about any of the previous appalling conduct, such as the sheer sadism of a fortnight ago reported by Media Watch on Monday night, where they pulled this on a 19 year old they were flying from California to meet her long-lost aunt:

Jackie O: Now, if you don’t pick the right door, if Dana’s not the door you pick, Dana flies straight home. No meeting.

Kyle Sandilands: So she flies over here, 15 hours. She stands behind the door. If you pick the wrong door Dana gets back on the plane, flies home, 15 hours.

— Radio 2DayFM, The Kyle and Jackie O Show, 17th July, 2009

She did pick the wrong door, and they made the women believe – for eight agonising minutes – that they were going to force the niece back on the plane. And they milked the women’s suffering for all it was worth.

There’s something very wrong about everyone involved in that program, from the cruel hosts and producers, to the sadistic listeners, to the indifferent advertisers. What a pity no consequences will flow to most of them, particularly the ones funding this nasty little party. Let’s hope the “recess” continues indefinitely.

As for News Ltd – let’s hope there are some consequences for what appears on first glance to be an outrageous breach of privacy. Sure, Sandilands is clearly a nasty piece of work who deserves to pay a price for what he’s done – but that’s not the point at which to forgive other media their transgressions. They might start with the cruel and gittish, but if they get away with it, that won’t be where it ends.

UPDATE: “Quisling” wasn’t exactly the right word to describe the advertisers, although “collaborators” will do quite nicely.

UPDATE #2: Apparently both the house and the car are owned by Sandilands’ company, so the information is on the public record. The material obtained by Ben Butler is easily available “to anyone who’s willing to cough up the piratical fees charged” by the information holders to release it.

As to whether that information should be published, as to whether it’s in the public interest, well, that’s another question entirely.

NOTE: A minor amendment to the post was made to reflect the update.

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