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Michael Jackson music barred from stations across the globe after 'Leaving Neverland' documentary airs



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Radio stations around the world have begun pulling Michael Jackson music following the release of "Leaving Neverland," an HBO documentary that details accusations of child sexual abuse at the hands of the so-called "King of Pop."

Dozens of stations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have reportedly pulled Jackson's songs following the documentary's disturbing accusations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim they were abused by the singer as children. Jackson died from an accidental drug overdose in 2009.

Others, including BBC2 in the United Kingdom, have chosen not to yank Jackson's music from its stations.

"The BBC does not ban artists," a BBC2 spokesperson told Variety.

"We consider each piece of music on its merits and decisions on what we play on different networks are always made with relevant audiences and context in mind," she said, adding the station focuses on new artists and thus music from Jackson does not apply. His most recent album, "Xscape" was released posthumously in 2014.

Some news outlets had erroneously reported that the BBC had banned Jackson's songs.

Which stations have stopped playing Jackson's music?

The owner of Canadian stations CKBE-FM and CKOI-FM, among others, told The Guardian that it pulled Jackson's music on Monday.

In Australia, Nova Entertainment Company was reportedly among the first to pull Jackson's songs from its playlists, The Guardian reported.

"The decisions we make about the music we play on any of our stations are dependent on the relevance to the audience and the current context," Paul Jackson, NOVA Entertainment's group program director, told The Guardian. "In light of what is happening at the moment, smoothfm is not currently playing any Michael Jackson songs."

And in New Zealand, a number of media companies have also dropped Jackson's music, including MediaWorks, which operates several stations.

MediaWorks Group content director Leon Wratt told public broadcaster Radio New Zealand that the decision to no longer play Jackson's songs on any of its stations' playlists was "a reflection of our audiences and their preferences."

New Zealand Media and Entertainment has also pulled his music following the documentary's release, according to RNZ.

What have other broadcasters said about censoring?

In the U.S., Cumulus said it opposes censorship but has opted to allow individual stations to decide whether or not they play Jackson's songs. Cumulus is the second largest radio operator in the U.S.

"Cumulus Media is never in favor of censorship," a spokesperson told Variety. "This is a local market decision where the company is allowing local Program Directors to make the right decision regarding airplay for their communities."

Others have also decided to continue playing his music, noting that the singer was never convicted of a crime.

"We take allegations of this nature very seriously," a spokeswoman at Southern Cross Austereo in Australia told the Guardian. "However, these remain allegations and therefore we currently intend to continue to play his music on occasion."

What's the background on Jackson's previous allegations?

In the 1990s, Jackson faced similar accusations of child molestation in 1993, but he was never indicted, according to Rolling Stone. Eventually, Jackson paid tens of millions of dollars to settle with the families of his accusers.

A decade later, the British documentary, "Living with Michael," described Jackson's friendship and sleepovers with children. It sparked new outrage that led the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department to reopen its investigation of Jackson.

In December 2003, he was charged on multiple accounts of child molestation. A grand jury indicted him several additional charges in 2004.

Jackson adamantly maintained his innocence.

After a 14-week trial in 2005, he was found not guilty on all counts.

Last month, Jackson's estate filed a lawsuit against HBO citing that airing the documentary violated a decades-old non-disparagement agreement, according to the Associated Press.

What else?

Oprah Winfrey interviewed Jackson's accusers in a special that premiered Monday on HBO and OWN. The hourlong special "Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland," aired immediately following the second and final part of "Leaving Neverland."

Jackson's family has lashed out against the media for the attention the documentary has received.

Jermaine Jackson, brother of Michael Jackson, tweeted Monday: "So many in media, inc @Oprah, blindly taking #LeavingNeverland at face value, shaping a narrative uninterested in facts, proof, credibility. We faced similar 'graphic' claims + trial-by-media in '05. Jury saw through it all. Trial-by-law proved Michael's innocence long ago. Fact."

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