Swatch and Radio Virsa - 2020-012 / 2020-059 (31 March 2021)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Paula Rose QSO
- Susie Staley MNZM
- Parmjot Swatch
2020-012 / 2020-059
ProgrammeChitti Seonk and Bhakde Masley
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority declined to determine two complaints as they did not raise any issues of broadcasting standards that warrant a determination.
Decline to determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – in all the circumstances): Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Accuracy
 Parmjot Swatch made two complaints to Radio Virsa about comments concerning him on talkback programmes Chitti Seonk (12 December 2019) and Bhakde Masley (5 April 2020).
 In considering the complaints we have read independent translations of the broadcasts in question and the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 Mr Swatch raised the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. He complained that the hosts used offensive language against him and his mother, as well as making discriminatory comments against Punjabi living in North America.
 Radio Virsa did not uphold the complaint, arguing Mr Swatch ‘tried to make a complaint by picking individual words from the conversation which does not reflect the actual context of the talk show. The words picked…are not offensive and are very commonly used during the day to day Punjabi conversation and does not violate the "Good taste and decency" standard’. Radio Virsa said with regard to the discrimination and denigration complaint, the relevant view was expressed by a caller ‘about a group of people living in some region of the world and we do not rule on listener’s minds’.
 Mr Swatch complained there were comments made about him which included ‘false and misleading information…regarding an event that dates back to 2014’. The way the facts were presented ‘was humiliating and [the host] took every chance to assassinate my character before his radio station audience’. Mr Swatch alleged this breached ‘at least two sections of the BSA Codes’ without specifying the standards.
 Radio Virsa responded that the complaint did not contain enough detail for it to respond, with reference to Supreme Sikh Council of New Zealand & Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand and Radio Virsa, Decision No. 2015-082.
 In his referral to the Authority Mr Swatch raised the accuracy standard.
Outcome: Declined to determine
 Under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, we can decline to determine a complaint if we consider that in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined.
 In this case, the Authority considers it appropriate to exercise this discretion and decline to determine the complaints on the grounds they do not raise any issues of broadcasting standards that warrant a determination:
- The complaints concern relatively low level insults, particularly in the context of talkback radio which is granted some latitude to be provocative and edgy in the interests of robust debate.1
- There is some evidence both parties have been engaged in public criticism of each other. The complaints process, however, is not the appropriate forum to address personal concerns or resolve disputes between parties.
- In the case of the Bhakde Masley complaint, the lack of detail provided regarding the basis for the complaint gives rise to some doubt regarding its validity.
 In all the circumstances, it is appropriate to decline to determine these two complaints under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaints.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
Judge Bill Hastings
31 March 2021
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it addressed these complaints:
Chitti Seonk (12 December 2019)
1 Translation of Chitti Seonk 12 December 2019 broadcast, supplied by the Department of Internal Affairs’ Translation Service
2 Parmjot Swatch’s complaint to Radio Virsa – 10 January 2020
3 Radio Virsa’s response to the complaint – 29 January 2020
4 Mr Swatch’s referral to the Authority – 13 February 2020
5 Radio Virsa’s final comments on the referral – 23 February 2021
Bhakde Masley (5 April 2020)
6 Translation of Bhakde Masley 5 April 2020 broadcast, supplied by the Department of Internal Affairs’ Translation Service
7 Parmjot Swatch’s complaint to Radio Virsa – 20 April 2020
8 Radio Virsa’s response to the complaint – 23 May 2020
9 Mr Swatch’s referral to the Authority – 21 June 2020
10 Mr Swatch’s comments on the translation – 7 October 2020
11 Radio Virsa’s comments on the translation – 19 November 2020
12 Radio Virsa’s comments on the referral – 12 February 2021
13 Radio Virsa’s final comments on the referral – 17 February 2021
1 Guideline 1c