BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Richards and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2019-105 (7 April 2020)

  • Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Susie Staley MNZM
  • Les Richards
MediaWorks TV Ltd
Three (MediaWorks)


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

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a promo for Love Island Australia, which was available to view online on ThreeNow. The promo depicted the programme host, Sophie Monk and two others as angels sitting in the clouds. The ‘god of love’, a heart-shaped cloud in the sky, called down to Sophie saying, ‘we need more love’. Sophie responded that she had ‘the perfect place for falling in love… a love island’, in response to which the ‘god of love’ asked, ‘and what about hot bods?’ The complainant found the promo offensive as he considered it mocked Christianity and Christian beliefs. Weighing these concerns against the right to freedom of expression, the Authority found the promo’s content would not have unduly offended or distressed the general audience, and it did not reach the high threshold necessary for finding it encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, Christians as a section of the community. Therefore, the promo did not cause actual or potential harm at a level which justified limiting the right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration


[1]  A promo for Love Island Australia, which was available to view online on ThreeNow, depicted the programme host, Sophie Monk, and two others as angels sitting in the clouds. The ‘god of love’, a heart-shaped cloud in the sky, called down to Sophie and they had the following exchange:

God of Love:   Sophie… We’ve got a big problem with love.

Sophie:            Tell me about it.

God of Love:   We need more love.

Sophie:            It’s all taken care of. I’ve got the perfect place for falling in love. It’s an island – a love island.

God of Love:   And what about hot bods?

Sophie:            You want hot dogs??

God of Love:   No, hot bods!

[2]  The promo was broadcast at 5.10pm on Three on Sunday 13 October 2019. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the promo and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

The complaint

[3]  Les Richards complained that the promo was offensive to him as a Christian, saying, ‘It portrayed scantily clad women posing as angels and had what was a representation of God calling for ‘Hot Bods’, which was ‘absolutely offensive and mocking’ and ‘goes totally against what my Christian God would be calling for’. Mr Richards considered the promo breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  MediaWorks did not uphold the complaint, saying:

We apologise for the offence the promo caused you but we have found no grounds to uphold your complaint. The promo was light-hearted and humorous and did not express condemnation of Christianity or Christians. It did not contain material that was likely to have caused widespread offence, such as offensive language, nudity or violence. We are satisfied that the promo did not breach the nominated standards.

The relevant standards

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) states that current norms of good taste and decency should be maintained, consistent with the context of the programme. The Authority will consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress.1

[6]  The discrimination and denigration standard (Standard 6) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.

Our decision

[7]  When we consider any complaint that broadcasting standards have been breached, we start by recognising the important right to freedom of expression that is protected by the Bill of Rights in New Zealand. It has long been established in Authority decisions that this includes the right to comment on, and apply humour and satire to, religion and religious beliefs, and that humour and satire are forms of expression which the public values highly.2

[8]  Against this value we weigh the potential harm caused by the broadcast. We may only interfere and uphold complaints where the limitation on the right to freedom of expression is reasonable and justified.

[9]  In this case we have not found actual or potential harm arising from the Love Island Australia promo which amounted to a breach of standards or which justifies limiting the broadcaster’s freedom of expression.

Good taste and decency

[10]  We acknowledge that the complainant found the content of this promo offensive. However we do not consider that it threatened community standards of good taste and decency or that it was likely to cause widespread undue offence among the general audience. This is due to the light-hearted, satirical nature of the promo, which used a parody of a ‘god of love’ and angels to promote a reality dating series. The tone and premise referring to needing ‘more love’, ‘the perfect place to fall in love’, ‘a love island’ and ‘hot bods’ reflects the established format of Love Island which is now relatively well-known to audiences, as a number of seasons have been broadcast or available to viewers online in New Zealand. We were satisfied the promo was intended to be humorous and satirical, rather than intending to offend people or to make any comment on Christianity or Christian beliefs.

[11]  We therefore found no breach of the good taste and decency standard.

Discrimination and denigration

[12]   For the same reasons, we do not consider the promo breached the discrimination and denigration standard.

[13]  The importance of freedom of expression means that a high level of condemnation, often with an element of malice or nastiness, is necessary to conclude that a broadcast encouraged discrimination or denigration in breach of the standard (guideline 6b). Additionally, the standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material that is legitimate humour or satire (guideline 6c).

[14]  Satirising and commenting on religion is protected by the right to freedom of expression provided it is not likely to cause harm to individuals or groups. As we have said, the promo was clearly intended to be light-hearted and humorous, parodying the notion of a ‘god of love’ to reflect the premise of the Love Island series, which is for the contestants on the island to ‘couple up’ and find love. It did not carry any malice or nastiness towards Christians as a section of the community or towards their religious beliefs such that it had the potential to cause harm. Therefore it did not reach the high threshold for finding a breach of this standard.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority




Judge Bill Hastings


7 April 2020




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

1.  Les Richards’ formal complaint – 14 October 2019

2.  MediaWorks’ decision on the complaint – 8 November 2019

3.  Mr Richards’ referral to the Authority – 4 December 2019

4.  MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further comment – 17 December 2019

1 Commentary: Good Taste and Decency, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 12
2 See for example, McArthur and CanWest TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2007-069