BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Lockyer and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2012-089

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Janet Lockyer

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
MasterChef New Zealand – contestants used the words “crapping” and “pissed off” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency standard

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – language was low-level and would not have offended most viewers in the context of a PGR programme – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  During the final episode of MasterChef New Zealand, references to “crapping myself” and “crapping yourself” were made by one of the contestants and one of the judges, and another contestant said she was “pissed off with [herself]” for forgetting important ingredients. The episode was broadcast at 7.30pm on TV One on 12 June 2012.

[2]  Janet Lockyer made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the language was offensive and unacceptable.

[3]  The issue is whether the programme, and specifically the language used, breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

Did the programme, and specifically the language used, threaten standards of good taste and decency?

[5]  Standard 1 (good taste and decency) is primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2

[6]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • MasterChef was rated PGR and broadcast at 7.30pm during the PGR time-band
  • it was broadcast during children’s viewing times
  • the programme’s target audience
  • audience expectations.

[7]  Research conducted by the Authority suggests that the terms “crap” and “piss off” are relatively low-level in terms of their offensiveness in a broadcasting context.3 Thirteen percent of people surveyed considered “piss off” to be totally unacceptable in all scenarios, and eight percent considered “crap” to be totally unacceptable.

[8]  Here, variations of these terms were used in the context of the final episode of a reality series competition, where tensions were high and the contestants were visibly anxious and under pressure. They were used to express frustration, and were not directed at any person. They were the only instances of low-level language contained in the broadcast, which was two hours in length. In the context of the MasterChef final which was rated PGR and broadcast at 7.30pm, we find that the comments did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency.

[9]  Upholding the complaint in these circumstances would be an unjustifiable limit on the right to freedom of expression. We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
4 December 2012


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

1           Janet Lockyer’s formal complaint – 15 June 2012

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 13 July 2012

3          Ms Lockyer’s referral to the Authority – 22 July 2012

4          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 26 September 2012

1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November, 2006)

3What Not to Swear: The Acceptability of Words in Broadcasting (Broadcasting Standards Authority, 2010)