BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Judge and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-074 (22 September 2021)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Paul Judge


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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a promo which contained a joke that New Zealand’s duck hunting season had been off to a bad start because ‘someone accidentally shot Trevor Mallard’. Viewers would have understood the comment as a joke, and it was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or encourage illegal activity, nor did it contain unduly disturbing violent content.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Violence, Law and Order

The broadcast

[1]  A promo for comedy panel show Have You Been Paying Attention was broadcast at approximately 10.42pm during Two and a Half Men on 10 May 2021 on TVNZ 2. In the promo, a photo of a duck was shown, and the presenter said, ‘New Zealand’s duck hunting season got off to a bad start – why?’ One of the comedy guests responded, ‘Someone accidentally shot Trevor Mallard’ and the studio audience laughed.

The complaint

[2]  Paul Judge complained this promo breached the good taste and decency, violence and law and order standards:

  • ‘To make a joke about shooting a member of our elected parliament, and to have that joke played over and over again as part of a promotion, is completely unacceptable.’
  • ‘TVNZ, and the media generally, make far too many jokes about killing (and eating) animals. It is so prevalent that it is no longer known when these jokes cross the line into becoming, at best, offensive but, at worst, potentially inciting violence.’
  • ‘This particular example crossed the line in that it was both offensive and could potentially incite violence towards the subject of the joke.’

The broadcaster’s response

[3]  TVNZ did not uphold the complaint for the following reasons:

  • ‘The promo is for a comedy programme…there is no depiction of sexual material, nudity, violence or coarse language. There is no footage of ducks being shot and there is no endorsement of duck hunting in the voice-over, the event of duck hunting season opening is simply discussed as a fact.’
  • Regarding ‘the joking comment someone accidentally shot Trevor Mallard’, it is ‘clear that this is not a statement encouraging or endorsing violence against Trevor Mallard. It is a pun on his last name which is also the name of the type of duck which is commonly hunted during duck hunting season’. This, in and of itself, is not violent or offensive.
  • ‘The comment is clearly made in the context of a comedy programme and viewers would understand that it was not a realistic statement to encourage violence against a person. We further note that the comment is that he was accidentally shot, not that it was something which was done purposefully.’

The relevant standards

[4]  The purpose of the good taste and decency standard1 is to protect audience members from broadcasts likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. The context of the broadcast is relevant to assessing whether or not a broadcast has breached the standard.2

[5]  The purpose of the violence standard3 is to protect audiences from unduly disturbing violent content. Broadcasters should exercise discretion in deciding the degree of graphic detail to be included, and an audience advisory should be used where appropriate.4 

[6]  The law and order standard5 states broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order, taking into account the context of the programme and the wider context of the broadcast. Its purpose is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.6

Our findings

[7]  We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

[8]  Our task is to weigh the value of the programme, in terms of the right to freedom of expression and the public interest in it, against the level of actual or potential harm caused by the broadcast. The harm alleged is viewers may be encouraged to behave in anti-social ways.

[9]  The context of the programme and the wider context of the broadcast are important considerations when assessing potential harm under each of the standards raised.7 Relevant contextual factors in this case include:

  • The comment was clearly a pun on Trevor Mallard’s name, and viewers would have understood it as a joke.
  • The promo was 20 seconds long.
  • It screened well after 9.30pm, when programmes classified 18 may screen.8
  • It was promoting a comedy show, so viewers would have expected the content of the promo to be irreverent and not to be taken seriously.
  • The reference to duck hunting did not promote or glamorise illegal activity. The pun about Trevor Mallard referred to him being ‘accidentally’ shot, and did not promote or glamorise shootings.
  • The promo did not depict actual violence.

[10]  In this context, we do not consider the broadcast was likely to cause widespread undue offence or encourage illegal activity, nor did it contain unduly disturbing violent content.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Susie Staley
Acting Chair
22 September 2021



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

1  Paul Judge’s original complaint to TVNZ – 12 May 2021

2  TVNZ’s decision on the complaint – 8 June 2021

3  Mr Judge’s referral to the BSA – 5 July 2021

4  TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comments – 13 July 2021

1 Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
2 Guideline 1a
3 Standard 4 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
4 Guideline 4d
5 Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
6  Commentary: Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 15
7 Guidelines 1a, 4a and 5b
8 See Definitions, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand, page 9