Quebec stations stop playing Michael Jackson songs, citing abuse allegations
Decision comes after airing of HBO documentary Leaving Neverland
Three major Montreal radio stations have stopped playing Michael Jackson songs as a result of child-molestation allegations against the late musician aired Sunday in an HBO documentary.
A spokesperson for the owner of the French-language stations CKOI and Rythme and the English-language The Beat said they pulled Jackson's music Monday morning.
"We are attentive to listeners' comments, and last night's documentary created reactions," Christine Dicaire, director of marketing and communications for Cogeco, said in a written statement about Leaving Neverland.
She said the decision will also apply to Cogeco Media stations in smaller markets in the province. The company operates 23 radio stations that it says reach more than five million listeners every week.
Dicaire said the company would not comment further.
No other broadcasters that were contacted said they plan to remove Jackson songs from the airwaves.
"We currently have no plans to pull the songs but are monitoring the situation closely," Chris Sarpong, a spokesperson for Corus Radio, said in an email to The Canadian Press on Sunday.
Leaving Neverland premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation. It details the abuse allegations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who had previously denied Jackson molested them when the two were children.
Jackson's family and his estate have denounced the documentary in recent weeks through written statements, a lawsuit, and letters to HBO and Britain's Channel 4, which also plans to air the film. Their central criticism has been the documentary's failure to talk to family members or other defenders of Jackson, whom they insist never molested a child.
Jackson died in 2009.
The documentary's director, Dan Reed, has defended his film, which uses only the voices of Robson, Safechuck and their families.
"It's the story of these two families and not of all the other people who were or weren't abused by Michael Jackson," Reed told The Associated Press after the premiere.
"People who spent time with him can go, 'He couldn't possibly be a pedophile.' How do they know? It's absurd."
Robson, 36, and Safechuck, 40, both came forward as adults, first via 2013 lawsuits and later in the documentary, to talk about the alleged abuses, which Robson says started when he was seven and Safechuck when he was 10.
Robson testified in Jackson's defence at the 2005 molestation trial that ended with the superstar's acquittal.
With files from The Associated Press