‘‪#‎JeSuisACC’‬: fans protest Alternative Commentary Collective’s barring, NZME attempts to get back in ICC’s good graces—UPDATED


NZME sent through this release announcing a partial victory:  

The Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC) will continue commentating games for the remainder of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Their abstract ball-by-ball commentary and offbeat analysis has been a hit amongst cricket fans, with access via a dedicated stream on iHeartRadio.co.nz and theaccnz.com.

NZME’s General Manager – Talk, Dallas Gurney says it is a good outcome.

“We understand the importance of security at the World Cup and fully appreciate the concern the ICC had. To have them able to continue commentating, albeit not at the game, is a great result not only for us as a company but for all of the fans they have attracted since their inception. It is very common for commentators to be based away from the venue, we do this regularly on Radio Sport when commentating international events.”

Gurney says their popularity has continued to grow.

“The boys have generated 241,819 streams to date and with the New Zealand versus Australia game they attracted so many listeners that our server actually crashed. I know the boys are very thankful for everyone’s support but now it’s time to get on with the cricket!”

Original story: The Alternative Commentary Collective has been one of the country’s recent media highlights. The witty, oft-politically incorrect or downright offensive banter, the purposeful mangling of names (RIP Mrs Mangel), the dubious factoids, the humorous nicknames and, occasionally, the cricket commentary, have attracted thousands to NZME’s iHeartRadio platform, as well as a number of commercial partners. But after the ICC got a bee in its bonnet over Leigh Hart’s appearance on Gatorade’s bottle/inflatable penis during a drinks break at McLean Park in Napier on Sunday, the team has had their accreditation revoked, leading to howls of protest from fans—and probably a bit of sucking up from NZME—to ensure the caravan of cricket can continue doing the work of God for the rest of the tournament. 

An ICC spokesman told the Herald: “An individual went outside the agreed boundaries of an activation and appropriate action has been taken.” And Hart said: “It was part of a promotional thing done by Gatorade [which is owned by tournament sponsor Pepsi], where they asked us to be on the drinks trolley. One of us was selected and it was me.” On its Facebook page, the ACC said: “For the record, there was no breach of protocol here. Leigh did exactly what was asked of him by operations officials – it was so innocuous it’s boring.” The Herald is running a poll on the issue and at this stage 68 percent believe they did nothing wrong. 

There’s no doubt the recent performances of the Blackcaps and the excitement of a World Cup taking place in this part of the world have increased the level of interest in the sport (supplies of Blackcaps merch are running low). But looking at the ACC’s Facebook page, which has over 14,000 fans, it’s clear it is particularly well-loved and has increased the sport’s potential audience even further, with many who claimed to find cricket boring saying they enjoy listening to them. 

Not surprisingly, fans have leapt to the ACC’s defense after the decision and, in typical slacktivist style, set up a Facebook page that has already got over 4,000 likes (it posted that “conspiracy theorists are claiming the ICC received a phone call dobbing in Leigh while he was on the dildo cart. We have also heard reports of Ian Smith sitting on the grassy knoll at the time of the drinks break.”). There has also been plenty more social media action—and ICC bagging—with the #savetheacc hashtag (or, as Russell McCleod suggested on Facebook, ‪#‎JeSuisACC‬).

NZME confirmed it was in discussions with ICC through rights managers IMG to get the ACC back in business and more news is expected soon (acronym overload). And, according to Stuff, ​Wells took the opportunity to make a statement on his Radio Hauraki breakfast show: “We are working with NZME and the ICC to make sure that we bring you more ACC coverage during the World Cup, so thank you very much for your support. We appreciate it greatly.”

With many saying this is a prime example of the ICC being out of touch with the fans, it would be a brave move to uphold the ban, especially as Hart, unlike Wells, didn’t even display his perineum. But cricket administrators are generally a fairly serious bunch, so there is a chance it hasn’t taken too kindly to the group’s less than serious approach to commentary. Even if they are barred, many are hoping they will continue to broadcast the Blackcaps games from outside the stadium. 

Rubbing salt into the festering wound of discreditation (?), the senior members of the ACC, who also work as DJs on Radio Hauraki, have shilled for Pepsi as part of its Pepsi Max Moments campaign, which asked fans to put forward their own moment via Facebook for the chance to win tickets to games and showed both Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath getting hit in the knackers. 

Radio brands have long trumpeted their social media presence and tried to change the perception that they are simply about aural pleasure. And the ACC has been making the most of its sizeable social following with a campaign via Mainland, which sees team members try to catch different cheeses fired at them at tremendous pace.  

Fujitsu has a strong link to cricket through Stephen Fleming (and more recently Nathan Astle), and, in addition to regular comments about the air quality inside the caravan, the ACC is also offering listeners a chance to win a heat pump by getting them to do a quiz as part of the Under the Pump campaign. 

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