BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Palmer and The Radio Network Ltd - 2007-054

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa
  • Rosemary Palmer
Radio Hauraki

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Radio Hauraki – hosts on breakfast show referred to Helen Clark donating a testicle – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and social responsibility.

Principle 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld

Principle 7 (social responsibility) – item light-hearted and satirical in nature – broadcaster was mindful of children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  At 8.30am on 11 May 2007, Radio Hauraki broadcast a segment in its breakfast show hosted by the "Morning Pirates", Willy De Wit, Mark Perry and Dean Butler. One of the hosts described a story about a woman in the UK who had recently donated her kidney to her employer, who was in need of a transplant. He added:

Now apparently since this whole thing has been going on, now Paul Holmes, you know he is one testicle down, he wants a testicle transplant, and the great news for Paul this morning, Helen Clark said she would donate one of hers.


[2]  Rosemary Palmer made a formal complaint about the segment to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), the broadcaster, alleging that standards of good taste and decency and social responsibility had been breached.

[3]  Ms Palmer stated that the host’s statement about Helen Clark donating a testicle was indecent and socially irresponsible, as children could have been listening at that time of the morning.


[4]  Principles 1 and 7 and guideline 7b of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. They provide:

Principle 1 Good Taste and Decency

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Guideline 1a

Broadcasters will take into consideration current norms of decency and good taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs and the wider context of the broadcast e.g. time of day, target audience.

Principle 7 Social Responsibility

In programmes and their presentation broadcasters are required to be socially responsible.

Guideline 7b

Broadcasters shall be mindful of the effect any programme may have on children during their normally accepted listening times.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]  In its reply to Ms Palmer, TRN referred to Radio Hauraki as an "on the edge" radio station, with its breakfast show featuring daily satire, humour and entertainment.

[6]  TRN explained that the hosts had previously made a number of jokes about the fact that Helen Clark has a deep voice, and it said that the satirical reference to testicles tied in with the previous jokes.

[7]  The broadcaster acknowledged that for some radio audiences the item may have been offensive, but it argued that the satirical nature of the programme was clear, and the audience would not have been surprised at the sometimes off-beat humour.

[8]  In addition, TRN said that their audience was predominantly older males who would have expected this type of humour. Relying on the contextual factors mentioned above, TRN declined to uphold the good taste and decency complaint.

[9]  The broadcaster also declined to uphold the complaint relating to social responsibility, as it argued that the item was a legitimate use of humour and satire.

Referral to the Authority

[11]  Dissatisfied with the broadcasters response, Ms Palmer referred her complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Authority's Determination

[12]  The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Principle 1 (good taste and decency)

[12]  When the Authority considers a complaint that alleges a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into consideration the context of the broadcast. On this occasion the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the item was broadcast at 8.30am
  • the programme has an adult target audience
  • the item was satirical and humorous in nature.

[13]  The Authority agrees with the broadcaster that the item was clearly intended to be humorous. While the joke may not have appealed to all listeners, the Authority considers that it was relatively mild. Taking into account the above contextual factors, the Authority concludes that the item did not breach the Principle 1.

Principle 7 (social responsibility)

[no para 14 in original]

[15]  The broadcaster considered Ms Palmer’s complaint under guideline 7a of Principle 7, which relates to denigration and discrimination. However, the Authority notes that Ms Palmer’s original complaint refers to the fact that children may have been listening to the broadcast, not to denigration or discrimination. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that the complaint is appropriately considered under guideline 7b to Principle 7.

[16]  The Authority accepts that children may have been listening at the time the item was broadcast. However, the Authority is of the view that the joke was of a mild, light-hearted nature, and it was not inappropriate for child listeners. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold that the item was in breach of Principle 7.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
14 August 2007


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

1    Rosemary Palmer’s formal complaint – 14 May 2007

2    TRN’s decision on the formal complaint – 25 May 2007

3    Ms Palmer’s referral to the Authority – 30 May 2007