Keeley and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2018-094 (4 February 2019)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Wendy Palmer
- Susie Staley MNZM
- Paula Rose QSO
- Grant Keeley
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
During an episode of Seven Sharp the presenter Hilary Barry welcomed a temporary presenter, Matt Chisholm, who responded by saying ‘it’s bloody good to be here’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the use of the word ‘bloody’ breached the good taste and decency standard, finding the use of the term in the context of this programme was not inappropriate or unnecessary. The Authority has consistently found this expression to be colloquial language commonly used as an exclamation in our society. The Authority noted that Seven Sharp is aimed at adult viewers and the expression was not intended to be aggressive or pejorative. Overall, the Authority found that any potential for harm by the use of this term did not justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
 During an episode of Seven Sharp the presenter Hilary Barry welcomed a temporary presenter, Matt Chisholm, who responded by saying ‘it’s bloody good to be here’.
 The episode was broadcast on TVNZ 1 on 5 October 2018 at 7pm.
 Grant Keeley complained that the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, for the following reasons:
- The use of the word ‘bloody’ was unnecessary and although there are a few occasions where the word ‘bloody’ is appropriate, this was not such an occasion.
- No harm is done by not using the word ‘bloody’, even if it is only low level offensive language.
- Broadcasters should not use colloquial language.
The broadcaster’s response
 TVNZ responded:
- Seven Sharp is aimed at adult viewers and screens during the PGR (Parental Guidance Recommended) timeband.
- ‘Bloody’ is considered to be low level coarse language and is acceptable in programming screening during PGR time.
- ’Bloody’ is not explicit and is not of a level that requires an AO classification.
- ’Bloody’ was used in a colloquial way and was not intended to be aggressive or pejorative.
 The purpose of the good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is to protect audience members from viewing broadcasts that are likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards.
 In New Zealand we value the right to freedom of expression. Accordingly, when we consider a complaint that a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards, we weigh the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast.
 The complainant submitted that low level offensive language, including ‘bloody’, was unnecessary and had the potential to cause harm to the community. We have dealt with complaints about this expression before.1
 The word ‘bloody’ was not tested in our 2018 Language That May Offend in Broadcasting research, given its low ranking in the previous 2013 research.2 ‘Bloody’ ranked 29 out of 31 in the unacceptability of words and phrases list from 2013, with only 15% of survey respondents finding the word unacceptable.3 This suggests that the general level of unacceptability for this expression in the community is low.
 Expressions of this nature are now commonly used as exclamations, with no intention to be offensive. ‘Bloody’ is a colloquial term used frequently in New Zealand and would be unlikely to surprise or offend a significant number of listeners.
 We also note the following contextual factors:
- The term ‘bloody’ was used once during the broadcast.
- While it may have been considered by some to be unnecessary, the term was not used in an aggressive or vitriolic way.
- Seven Sharp often includes light-hearted, colloquial chat between the presenters. This type of language would have been well within audience expectations of Seven Sharp.
- Seven Sharp has an adult target audience and screens during the PGR timeband.
 For these reasons we do not consider that this expression was likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. Any potential for harm by the use of the word ‘bloody’ is outweighed by the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion.
 Accordingly we do not uphold this complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
Judge Bill Hastings
4 February 2019
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Grant Keeley’s formal complaint – 9 October 2018
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 6 November 2018
3 Mr Keeley’s referral to the Authority – 7 November 2018
4 TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 9 November 2018
1 See for example: Tanner and MediaWorks Radio Ltd, Decision No. 2015-085 and Peet and MediaWorks TV Ltd, Decision No. 2015-001
2 See Language That May Offend in Broadcasting (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2018, page 32)
3 See What Not to Swear: The Acceptability of Words in Broadcasting (Broadcasting Standards Authority, 2013, page 9)