BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Schwabe and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2000-075

  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • J Withers
  • Paul Schwabe
One News
TV One

One News offensive language – film title – 'shagged'

Standard G2 – decline to determine

Cross References
Decision No: 1999-163 and No: 2000-056

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


An actor from the film "Austin Powers – The Spy who Shagged me" was interviewed on Holmes on 9 February 2000 between 7.00–7.30pm. The item included audio and video clips from the film and the word "shagged" appeared in a graphic containing the film’s title.

Paul Schwabe complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the word "shagged" was an "offensive, aggressive, macho anti-woman term" and should not have been promoted in an item which was "irresistible to all members of the family, including impressionable children".

TVNZ noted that this was the third occasion on which Mr Schwabe had complained about the use of the word "shagged" as used in the title of the film. It maintained that it was appropriate to include the title of the film in the context of the item and noted that only a single brief visual reference was made. It declined to uphold the complaint.

Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Schwabe referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to determine the complaint.


The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the item complained about and have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. On this occasion, the Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The Authority agrees with TVNZ that the complaint is virtually indistinguishable from Mr Schwabe’s two previous complaints about the film’s title. Those decisions also concerned a reference made to the film title in the context of a news item. The Authority sees no reason to depart from its earlier decisions. Accordingly, having considered all the circumstances, the Authority declines to determine the complaint in accordance with s.11(a) of the Broadcasting Act on the basis that it was vexatious.


For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to determine the complaint.

The Authority has a power under s.16(1) and 16(2) to make an award of costs against a complainant where, in its opinion, a complaint was frivolous or vexatious or one which ought not to have been made. It invited submissions from the parties in relation to such costs. TVNZ submitted that no penalty was warranted on this occasion, particularly as Mr Schwabe had not been advised in advance of the Authority’s power to make such an order, and also because the complaint had been lodged before he had received the Authority’s decision in relation to his second complaint about the use of the word "shagged". Mr Schwabe advised that he did not wish to make a submission.

Having taken into account the submissions, the Authority makes no order on this occasion.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Rosemary McLeod
29 June 2000


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

1.    Paul Schwabe’s Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 6 March 2000

2.    TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 21 March 2000

3.    Mr Schwabe’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 16 April 2000

4.    TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 3 May 2000

5.    TVNZ’s Submission on Penalty – 22 May 2000

6.    Mr Schwabe’s Submission on Penalty – 25 May 2000