On Monday, “alternative” “youth” radio station Triple J announced the results of its Hottest 100 survey, which asked listeners to weigh in on changing the date of its annual best songs of the year countdown. The majority of listeners wanted a change—so next year the Hottest 100 will no longer fall on Australia Day. Instead, the countdown (and a new initiative, the Hottest 200) will run over the weekend of January 27 and 28.
But now, the inevitable fallout. On Tuesday, federal communications minister Mitch Fifield announced he will ask the ABC board to reconsider Triple J’s decision. Speaking to ABC news breakfast this morning, Fifield said that the number of people who had an issue with Australia Day being held on January 26—a date many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians label “Invasion Day”—is “relatively small.”
This is despite the results of Triple J’s survey, which considered the responses of 65,000 people.
According to the survey, an estimated 60 percent of Triple J listeners are in favour of moving the Hottest 100 to a different date. A clear majority, comparable to the recent marriage equality postal survey results. Gee, this country sure does love an expensive taxpayer-funded poll.
It’s worth questioning whether Fifield, who is 50 years old, knows much about the Hottest 100. It’s not a particularly patriotic countdown—listeners vote for their favourite songs of the year, and international artists typically dominate the playlist. It hasn’t always been held on January 26, either. As recently as 2005, the countdown was broadcast on January 27 instead.
This didn’t stop Fifield from saying that the ABC was “de-legitimising Australia Day” by moving the countdown.
"For the past 20 years, the Triple J Hottest 100 has become part of the soundtrack of Australia Day. It's something that Australians enjoy. It's one of the fixed points of reference,” he said this morning, inaccurately.
"And what Triple J and the ABC have done is to respond to a petition which has said it's not appropriate to have the Hottest 100 on the controversial Australia Day. There's nothing controversial about Australia Day."
Triple J has yet to respond to Fifield’s comments.
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