McDonald and New Zealand Media and Entertainment - 2016-050 (22 August 2016)
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Paula Rose QSO
- Leigh Pearson
- Donald McDonald
ProgrammeNewstalk ZB News
BroadcasterNew Zealand Media and Entertainment
Channel/StationNewstalk ZB # 2
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
An item during a Newstalk ZB news bulletin featured an interview with Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder. The newsreader introduced the item by saying, ‘Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder believes their loss to the Highlanders is the kick up the backside they need...’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the phrase ‘kick up the backside’ was rude, alluded to indecent assault and sexual abuse, and offended ‘community standards’. A ‘kick up the backside’ is a common, colloquial expression in New Zealand, meaning an unwelcome event or action that unexpectedly motivates or inspires. The expression would be well-known to listeners, who would not associate it with indecent or sexual assault. Therefore its use in this context did not threaten standards of good taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
 An item during a Newstalk ZB news bulletin featured an interview with Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder. The newsreader introduced the item by saying, ‘Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder believes their loss to the Highlanders is the kick up the backside they need...’
 Donald McDonald complained that the reference to the Crusaders receiving a ‘kick up the backside’ was rude, alluded to indecent assault and sexual abuse, and offended ‘community standards’.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.1
 The item was broadcast at 1.16pm on Newstalk ZB on 14 May 2016. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
Did the broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?
 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 a radio context, this standard is usually considered in relation to offensive language, sexual references or references to violence, but may also apply to other material presented in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.
 NZME argued that the phrase ‘kick up the backside’ is common in New Zealand and does not carry the connotations suggested by Mr McDonald. It raised the point that ‘backside’ was not a swearword and was ‘at the tame end of the spectrum’ in relation to potentially offensive language.
 When we consider the good taste and decency standard we take into account relevant contextual factors, which here include:
- the time of broadcast at 1.16pm on a weekday
- Newstalk ZB is targeted at adults aged 35 to 64
- the nature of the item as a sports news bulletin
- audience expectations of Newstalk ZB and of sports news.
 A ‘kick up the backside’ is a common, colloquial expression in New Zealand, meaning an unwelcome event or action that unexpectedly motivates or inspires. It is a well-known phrase to New Zealanders and listeners would not in our view generally associate it with the connotations complained about (namely that the action suggests indecent or sexual assault).
 In the context of the item, we do not consider that the phrase would have unduly surprised or offended listeners. The reporter appeared to be paraphrasing Mr Blackadder’s views that the Crusaders’ loss to the Highlanders would mean they were ‘better prepared’ for their upcoming games. The type of colloquial language used by the reporter was consistent with audience expectations of a sports news bulletin and we are therefore satisfied that this broadcast did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency.
 Accordingly, we do not find any breach of Standard 1.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
22 August 2016
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Donald McDonald ’s formal complaint – 14 May 2016
2 NZME’s response to the complaint – 26 May 2016
3 Mr McDonald ’s referral to the Authority – 22 June 2016
4 NZME’s response to the Authority – 27 June 2016
1 This complaint was determined under the new Radio Code, which took effect on 1 April 2016 and applies to any programmes broadcast on or after that date: http://bsa.govt.nz/standards/overview