Veteran broadcaster Alan Jones has revealed he has been dumped from his four-nights-a-week prime time program on Sky News.
Alan Jones will present his final program on Sky News tonight
His on-air commentary on COVID-19 has attracted widespread criticism
Sky News boss Paul Whitaker said Jones had rejected an offer to move to a weekly spot on a new streaming service
In a statement posted on Facebook, Jones said he had been informed by management at Sky News that his contract, which ends on November 30, would not be renewed.
He will present his final program tonight.
His sacking comes just months after his regular column in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was scrapped, with the paper’s editor Ben English saying Jones’s writing no longer resonated with readers.
The former 2GB shock jock, known for his conservative views and forthright style, said Sky News had offered him an alternative weekly slot on a new streaming service, which he declined.
“I have had nothing but support from people in the backroom of Sky News who rarely get a mention; and, apart from my contribution towards raising the viewer numbers, I hope I have also contributed to the morale of the organisation,” Jones said.
screenshot of Alan Jones wearing blue shirt and purple tie in a tv studio with Sky News graphics
Alan Jones has hosted his After Dark show on Sky News since last year.(Supplied)
Jones, 80, first joined Sky News in 2013 and last year signed a contract to present a talk show called After Dark which goes to air at 8pm.
But the program has been plagued with controversy over Jones’s commentary on COVID-19, which included tirades against lockdown restrictions.
Last month, YouTube suspended Sky News Australia’s account for spreading misinformation about the pandemic.
Ray Hadley, a former 2GB colleague, criticised Jones for his “ridiculous” opposition to the Sydney lockdown at the time.
Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and former royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also been regular targets of his polemics.
Jones said his treatment by Sky News failed to take into account that he “had brought over a new audience to the station”.
“I merely let the figures speak for themselves,” he said.
“In my brief time that I have been at Sky News, the audience at 8pm has significantly increased.”
The 2021 Digital News Report, published by the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre, showed Sky News was watched by just 10 per cent of the television audience, a drop of 2 percentage points compared with the previous year.
On digital platforms, Sky News came in 10th place, with 7 per cent of the audience, down 2 per cent on the year before.
The station has, however, seen an increase in YouTube subscribers.
Paul Whittaker, chief executive officer of Sky News Australia said: “Regrettably Alan has decided not to accept a new role that was offered to him for next year. We respect his decision and know he will be missed by many.
“His compelling commentary and views on the national debate have seen him become one of the country’s most successful and influential broadcasters for close to four decades.