BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Cole and Radio New Zealand Ltd -2022-001 (2 March 2022)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Rosemary Cole
Saturday Storytime
Radio New Zealand Ltd
Radio New Zealand


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

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint under the good taste and decency, children’s interests and accuracy standards, about a fictional character’s description of milk in an episode of Saturday Storytime. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was trivial and did not raise any issues of broadcasting standards at a level which warranted consideration.

Declined to Determine: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Accuracy (section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – trivial)

The broadcast

[1]  An episode of Saturday Storytime on 11 December 2021 included a story about a child going to stay with her aunt. The aunt stated that the child was better without drinking milk because it ‘snots you up’.

The complaint

[2]  Rosemary Cole complained the broadcast breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and accuracy standards:

  • ‘Aunty Twinkle referred to milk as “Snot slop”’
  • ‘I am making a Formal Complaint on the grounds of Good Taste, as referring to milk as “Snot slop” as really disgusting! It’s not funny!! It`s revolting!!!’
  • ‘Also, I am making a Formal Complaint on the grounds of Children`s Interests, as that reference to milk as “Snot slop” will put some off drinking milk. Aotearoa, NZ, dairy farmers produce nutritious milk, which has a lot of health benefits for growing children.’
  • ‘I am making a Formal Complaint too on the grounds of Accuracy, as milk for the lactose tolerant is a scientifically proven source of protein and calcium.’

The broadcaster’s response

[3]  Radio New Zealand Ltd (RNZ) did not uphold the complaint for a number of reasons including:

  • ‘The story [conforms] to norms of Good Taste and Decency, consistent with children’s stories normally broadcast in this programme’.
  • ‘It [was] not clear what harm could possibly be caused by an imaginary, child character who does not like milk.’
  • The accuracy standard only applies to news, current affairs and factual programming.

Outcome: Declined to determine

[4]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine complaints if it considers they are frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. A ‘trivial’ complaint is defined as one which is of little or no importance and is at such a level not to justify it being treated as a serious complaint.1 

[5]  We consider this complaint to be trivial. The comment complained about was an inconsequential line in the story regarding a character’s opinion that milk ‘snots you up’. We consider the complainant has misheard the term ‘snots you up’. However, regardless of whether the character said ‘snots you up’ or ‘snot slop’ as alleged, this line would not amount to a breach of any broadcasting standards. Many New Zealanders do not drink milk and fictional characters expressing distaste for milk is not offensive, harmful to children or inaccurate. This does not raise any issues of broadcasting standards at a level which warrants our consideration.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Susie Staley
2 March 2022



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

1  Rosemary Cole’s original complaint to RNZ – 11 December 2021

2  RNZ’s response to Cole – 24 December 2021

3  Cole’s referral to the Authority – 2 January 2022

4  RNZ’s confirmation of no further comments – 26 January 2022

1 Guidance: BSA Power to Decline to Determine a Complaint, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 66