The way Alan Jones tells it the end of his latest stint on television came after a meeting with senior Sky News Australia executives last Friday.
Network CEO Paul Whittaker and head of programs Mark Calvert told Jones they would not be renewing the contract of his show, which had won his subscription TV timeslot’s ratings the previous night.
Instead, they were offering the radio veteran a once-a-week slot on News Corp Australia’s new streaming service, Flash, next year, a proposition one insider called an ‘insult’.
For almost a week Jones kept what he thought of the offer to himself before declaring his position on his Facebook page on Thursday morning.
Alan Jones was told last Friday his program on Sky News Australia would not be renewed and he was instead offered a weekly slot on Sky’s new streaming service Flash.
An insider said the Flash offer was an insult. Jones announced he was quitting Sky on Thursday
The Daily Telegraph sacked Jones as a columnist after weeks of his anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown Covid-19 commentary.
A source accused News Corp of going woke by removing the conservative host from its Sky News line up. Jones is pictured with Sky host Peta Credlin
At 9am the 80-year-old revealed he would be leaving Sky with a 1,625-word polemic in which he noted the changing media landscape and defended his performance at the network.
Two minutes later Sky announced Jones had ‘regrettably’ decided not to accept a ‘new role’ and would host his final program at 8 o’clock tonight.
Jones portrayed last Friday’s meeting with Whittaker and Calvert – neither of whom he named – as the breaking point with Sky but observers have predicted the parting for months.
The Daily Telegraph, which like Sky is owned by News Corp, sacked Jones as a weekly columnist in July after months of him downplaying the seriousness of Covid-19.
While Jones had reportedly been told his columns no longer ‘resonated’ with readers, the official line from News Corp was that the company still supported the broadcaster.
‘The decision to no longer publish Alan Jones’s column in The Daily Telegraph was made by its editor, Ben English, based on the impact the column was having on the Telegraph’s objective to build its audience,’ a News Corp spokesman said.
Former 2GB colleague Ray Hadley (left) unloaded on Jones (centre) in July over his Covid commentary for Sky, describing his conduct as ‘scurrilous, contemptible and undignified’.
Jones’s replacement in the 2GB breakfast slot, Ben Fordham, is pictured right
‘I write in my regular Thursday column to advise you that the management at Sky News have indicated to me that they will not renew my contract, which ends on November 30,’ Jones wrote on Facebook on Thursday
‘Decisions about what to publish in News Corp mastheads is the responsibility of the editor.
These decisions should not be confused with the company’s corporate position or, in this case, a signal that News Corp Australia no longer supports Alan.’
The spokesman even acknowledged Jones’s strong ratings since joining Sky in July last year after ending his record-breaking career as a breakfast radio broadcaster.
We respect his decision and know he will be missed by many
‘Alan is one of Australia’s most accomplished broadcasters; his show on Sky News is achieving strong success and he has a widely read column in The Australian,’ he said.
‘He is a compelling voice that has long represented the values of many Australians and his relationship with News Corp remains strong.’
Jones flatly rejected the suggestion his columns did not resonate with Telegraph readers in comments he gave to one of News Corp’s rival newspapers owned by Nine Entertainment.
‘If the argument has been it’s not resonating, I don’t have to defend myself,’ he said at the time.
‘Have a look at Sky News YouTube, Sky News Facebook and Alan Jones Facebook and you can see.
The same column that I write for the Tele goes up on my Facebook page.
‘The public can check it for themselves. Thirty-five years at top of the radio and I don’t resonate with the public? Honestly.’
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford posted this newspaper advertisement to social media on Thursday.
The ad features Sky commentators Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Paul Murray, presenter Laura Jayes, reporter Andrew Clennell but not Jones, Sky’s biggest star
Two days before those remarks, 2GB morning presenter Ray Hadley had unloaded on Jones over his former colleague’s Covid commentary for Sky, describing his conduct as ‘scurrilous, contemptible and undignified’.
Hadley writes a weekly column for the Telegraph and 2GB is owned by Nine. Jones left 2GB in May last year, citing health reasons and amid an exodus of advertisers.
In July, Jones had offered sympathy for anti-lockdown protesters in Sydney, suggested a 38-year-old who died from Covid had died from something else and called NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant ‘dumb’.
Hadley told his listeners he was sick of ‘getting emails from lunatics, a few of them every morning, about the rantings the night before, saying “oh Alan told me… “‘
‘Let me tell you something,’ Hadley said in an almost 10-minute diatribe.
‘Half of what Alan says is very well researched. The other half is bull****.’
Earlier in July, Jones had cited UK data to claim the Delta strain of Covid was far less dangerous than the original virus, and that vaccinated people were more like to die.
While Jones had reportedly been told his Telegraph columns no longer ‘resonated’ with readers, the official line from News Corp was that the company still supported the broadcaster.
Jones is pictured with supermodel Jennifer Hawkins in 2014
Hadley said Jones was doing ‘himself, Sky News, and the Australian public, a great disservice’ with that broadcast, which Sky corrected and removed from all platforms.
Another clue that Jones may have been on the outer at Sky came in August when a newspaper advertisement promoted the network’s on-air line up.
The ad featured fellow commentators Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Paul Murray, presenter Laura Jayes, reporters Kieran Gilbert and Andrew Clennell but not Jones, Sky’s biggest star.
News Corp also recently launched an editorial campaign for stronger action against climate change, link slot88 conflicting with some of Jones’s positions on the environment and energy.
Jones was not giving interviews on Thursday but an insider familiar with the negotiations said there was no way he would accept the network’s new offer.
‘The Flash offer was an insult – Flash has 46 likes on Facebook compared to Alan’s 156,000,’ the source said.