Following the full release of Leaving Neverland on HBO last night, Canadian radio stations are opting out of the King of Pop.
A new report from CBC says at least three major Montreal radio stations have stopped playing Michael Jackson music as a result of the allegations in the documentary.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck share their experiences with Jackson as children in Leaving Neverland. The documentary premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and has received sharp criticism from the Jackson estate. The family has denounced the documentary through written statements, and the estate even filed a lawsuit for $100 million against HBO.
Despite the legal threats, HBO moved ahead with Part 1 of the documentary on March 3rd, followed by Part 2 a day later.
The family argues that since Jackson died in 2009 and the documentary does not seek the family’s perspective, it is a biased account of events and what amounts to a smear job of a dead man. Director Dan Reed has defended his film by saying it is the story of two families and their interactions with Jackson.
“It’s the story of these two families and not of all the other people who were or weren’t abused by Michael Jackson.”
Both Robson and Safechuck previously testified in 2005 that Jackson did not abuse them. Jackson was acquitted of all charges. Later the pair recanted those statements and launched a new lawsuit in 2013, five years after Jackson’s death.
Robson says his abuse started when he was only seven years old, while Safechuck says his started at age 10. Both men give harrowing accounts in vivid detail of the alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Jackson. Some of the details shared by the boys include Jackson instructing them to touch his hand lightly to signal they were thinking about him sexually.
The boys were also subjected to repeated sexual intercourse and pornography, according to the accounts.
Canadian stations CKOI, Rythme, and The Beat pulled Jackson’s music Monday morning.
The BBC says it has no plans to ban Jackson’s music in the wake of the documentary release. Cogeco Media also operates 23 smaller radio stations across Canada, and the decision will affect those stations, too.
“We are attentive to listeners’ comments, and last night’s documentary created reactions.”
The company offered no further comment on when or if the music will return — if ever.