BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Clarke and The Radio Network Ltd - 2013-077

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Davis Clarke
The Radio Network Ltd
Newstalk ZB

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

During a panel discussion on the Mike Hosking Breakfast show about the government’s funding of America’s Cup campaigners, one of the panellists said ‘fucking’. She immediately apologised for the slip-up, and the other participants rebuked her in a light-hearted manner. The broadcaster upheld the complaint and counselled the panellist. The Authority found that the action taken by the broadcaster was sufficient. It noted the comment was made during a legitimate discussion about a matter of public interest, and all of the participants acknowledged at the time that the swearing was inappropriate.

Not Upheld (Action Taken): Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming


[1]  During the Mike Hosking Breakfast show, in the context of a panel discussion about the government’s funding of America’s Cup campaigners, one of the panellists said:

Why would you throw five million [dollars] at the America’s Cup and you might lose it all… Yeah, [sarcastic tone] because we’ve just got so much money as a country, because our health system and our education system is [sic] so awesome that we can just throw five million dollars [away]. Come on, we can’t throw five million dollars at a fucking – oh, excuse me – at a yacht race.

[2]  The host remarked, through bouts of laughter, ‘Dear, oh dear, geez [panellist’s name]… get yourself together, for goodness’ sake…’ The host and other participant then rebuked the panellist, in a light-hearted way, for swearing. The panellist said, ‘I apologise to the listeners. I’ve actually trained myself over the years not to do that… It was a slip-up and I’m very sorry’. The comment was broadcast on Newstalk ZB at about 8.15am on Friday 25 October 2013.

[3]  Davis Clarke made a formal complaint to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), the broadcaster, saying it was inappropriate for the panellist to use the ‘f-word’.

[4]  TRN found that the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and responsible programming standards, as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The broadcaster said the panellist had been counselled on the matter so as to prevent the use of such language in future.

[5]  The issue is whether the action taken by TRN, having upheld a breach of Standards 1 and 8, was sufficient.

[6]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Was the action taken by TRN, having upheld the complaint, sufficient?

[7]  We find that the action taken by TRN, in upholding the complaint and speaking to the panellist who made the comment, was sufficient. The offending comment was made during a panel discussion about the expenditure of public money, which was a matter of public interest. At the time the comment was made, all of the participants immediately recognised that the panellist’s swearing was inappropriate, and addressed this both at the time and after a short break, albeit in a light-hearted manner. Despite the programme being broadcast at a time when children were likely to be listening, the use of coarse language was not intentional, but a ‘slip-up’, as explicitly stated by the panellist, and she appeared to be genuinely apologetic. TRN has counselled the panellist to ensure that it does not happen again.


For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
19 December 2013


The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1                  Davis Clarke’s formal complaint  – 25 October 2013

2                 TRN’s response to the complaint – 29 October 2013

3                 Mr Clarke’s referral to the Authority – 11 November 2013

4                 TRN’s response to the Authority – 14 November 2013