Quebec stations stop playing Michael Jackson, citing abuse allegations

MONTREAL — 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 spokeswoman 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.

She added that 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 5 million listeners every week.

Dicaire said the company would not comment further.

No other broadcasters contacted said they plan to remove Jackson hits from the airwaves. “We currently have no plans to pull the songs but are monitoring the situation closely,” Chris Sarpong, a spokesman for Corus Radio, said in an email to The Canadian Press on Sunday.

The documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation, began airing on HBO Sunday. It details the abuse allegations of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who had previously denied Jackson molested them and actually supported him to authorities.

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 film’s failure to talk to family members or other defenders of Jackson, whom they insist never molested a child.

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 film’s 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 abuse, which Robson says started when he was 7, Safechuck when he was 10.

Both had previously told authorities there had been no abuse, with Robson testifying in Jackson’s defence at the 2005 molestation trial that ended with the superstar’s acquittal. Jackson died in 2009.

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