BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Taylor and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2008-002

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Diane Musgrave
Dated
Complainant
  • Martin Taylor
Number
2008-002
Programme
Eating Media Lunch
Channel/Station
TV2

Complaint under section section 8(1B)(b)(i)
Eating Media Lunch
– host introduced the episode by saying “Good evening, kia ora, fuck your mother” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

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

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]    Eating Media Lunch was a series broadcast on TV2 that lampooned aspects of the media both in New Zealand and overseas. The host introduced the episode broadcast at 10pm on Friday 2 November 2007 with the following words:

Good evening, kia ora, fuck your mother.

[2]   The episode was preceded by a verbal and visual warning which said:
This programme is rated Adults Only. It contains language and sexual material that may offend some people.

Complaint

[3]   Martin Taylor made a formal complaint about the introduction to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster. He contended that saying “fuck your mother” breached standards of good taste and decency, and stated that he found the remark “grossly offensive”. In Mr Taylor’s view, the comment was equivalent to the host “labelling me a ‘motherfucker’”.

Standards

[4]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:


Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   The broadcaster noted that the host did not say “good evening, kia ora, fuck your mother” in an aggressive or derogatory manner, and he was not suggesting that the audience literally “fucks their mother”. It wrote:

It is one of those moments of confusion mixed with affront that Eating Media Lunch specialises in – as the viewer is confused “did he really say that?” but also affronted by what has been said. This is an established type of humour...and [the host] has been practising this type of humour for years.

[6]   TVNZ noted that Eating Media Lunch was inits seventh season and the type of material it contained was well known to its intended audience. Further, the programme was classified Adults Only (AO) and was broadcast at 10pm. The broadcaster contended that the material was acceptable in the context of an AO programme broadcast at 10pm and preceded by a warning.

[7]   In TVNZ’s view, the introduction was intended as satire and would have been understood by the Eating Media Lunch audience as such.

Referral to the Authority

[8]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s decision, Mr Taylor referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He maintained that “sex with your own mother is not humorous in any context”, and that the remark breached Standard 1.

Authority's Determination

[9]   The members of the Authority have viewed 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.

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

  • the time of broadcast, 10.00pm
  • the AO classification of the programme
  • the target audience of Eating Media Lunch, young adult viewers
  • the broadcast of a warning, both verbally and visually, which indicated that the programme would contain language that might offend some people
  • viewer expectations of the programme, which is well known to contain challenging material.


[11]   The Authority notes that the presenter’s use of the phrase “fuck your mother” was clearly intended to be humorous rather than offensive. The humour was in its polite, deadpan delivery and its inclusion in the presenter’s otherwise standard greeting. It was not intended to be taken literally.

[12]   Taking into account the contextual factors above, in particular the warning which specifically referred to offensive language, the Authority considers that the comment did not breach standards of good taste and decency.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
30 April 2008

Appendix

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

1.            Martin Taylor’s formal complaint – 13 November 2007
2.           TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 4 December 2007
3.           Mr Taylor’s referral to the Authority – 27 December 2007
4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 13 March 2007