The date for Australia's famed music countdown, the Hottest 100, has been changed - and government MPs are angry

Adalita crowd surfs at Beat The Drum music festival for Triple J. Photo: Don Arnold/WireImage

ABC youth radio station triple j is changing the date of its annual Hottest 100 songs of the year, saying it had become “a symbol in the debate about Australia Day”.

As debate around Australia Day grew in recent years, the station found itself a key focus of the #changethedate movement and announced in September last year that it was reviewing the broadcast date.

“The Hottest 100 wasn’t created as an Australia Day celebration,” the station said, announcing that in the future, the countdown will take place on the fourth weekend of January.

A change.org petition launched last year attracted just over 5000 signatures, but the station polled its own listeners and received nearly 65,000 responses with 60% saying the hottest 100 should move to a new date.

It drilled down further asking 759 18-30 year olds who had listened to triple j at some point, what they thought. Surprising, the response was lower, although a majority (55%) were in favour of change, 24% were against, and 22% didn’t care.

The 2018 Hottest 100 will be held on Saturday, January 27, with the top 200-101 songs being played on the Sunday.

“We went with the fourth weekend of January because we wanted to keep all the best bits you love about the Hottest 100 – the music and being with your mates on a day that most people have off – and still host it at the same time in summer you’re used to,” the station said.

But the station will face a problem in 2019, when the fourth Saturday of the month is January 26.

Triple j said that when the Hottest 100 originally began in 1989, it was held in March, and moved to January 26 in 1998.

“Over the past 12 months, we’ve been speaking to heaps of different people who would be affected by this decision, including musicians, community leaders, representative groups, triple j staff, ABC groups, and a wide range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media, language groups, and many of the Indigenous artists featured on triple j,” the station said.

“There were a lot of different perspectives about 26 January, and different ways to approach Australia Day. But when it came to the Hottest 100, it was clear most people want the Hottest 100 to be on its own day when everyone can celebrate together.”

The decision has been welcomed by indigenous musicians and organisations.

But communications minister Mitch Fifield, who is in charge of the ABC, said he was “bewildered” by the decision.

“The ABC shouldn’t be buying into this debate. Australia Day is our national day. The ABC should honour it and not mess with the Hottest 100,” he said.

Assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke also joined in.

Triple j says it will be “broadcasting a bunch of special programming that covers some of the day’s biggest events, like the Young Australian of the Year, citizenship ceremonies, the Australia vs England One Day Series, Yabun Festival, and much more” on Australia Day, as well as all-Australian music.

Voting in the 2017 Hottest 100 opens on December 12 and closes on January 22.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.