BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Tuck and NZME Radio Ltd - 2024-024 (22 May 2024)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Aroha Beck
  • Pulotu Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Samantha Tuck


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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment of Fletch, Vaughan and Hayley discussing Ministry of Education guidelines for relationships and sexuality education breached the children’s interests standard. As part of the segment, the hosts indicated they wanted to talk about ‘the wild things that you were taught at sex ed.’ The complainant considered the segment, which featured discussion of genitalia and how to use condoms, was inappropriate to air in the morning when parents were taking their children to school. The Authority found the segment was within audience expectations for the programme and the radio station, ZM, and the nature of the upcoming discussion was sufficiently signposted to allow parents or caregivers to exercise discretion over their children’s listening. In the context, the hosts’ conversation and comments from callers were unlikely to adversely affect any children who happened to be listening (although they were not the target audience).

Not Upheld: Children’s Interests

The broadcast

[1]  During a segment of Fletch, Vaughan and Hayley broadcast on 26 February 2024 on ZM, the hosts discussed Ministry of Education guidelines for teaching relationships and sexuality education. The segment was introduced as follows:

Hayley:        The Ministry of Education made some guidelines on what schools should follow. They have some freedom and how they want to teach it and whatnot… and it starts from Years 1 to 3, learning about relationships and sexuality within their first years, identifying body parts, hygiene, inappropriate touching, stuff like that. [continues to explain what each year group learn about]


Hayley:        But this is not our experience, of sex education, as you say was so rogue. So, I want to chat about like the wild things that you were taught at sex ed.

[2]  The discussion then moved to the hosts’ own experiences of relationships and sexuality education at school and how this differed from the new recommendations from the Ministry.

Fletch:         She would then roll a condom over, like, it was a native wooden penis.

Hayley:        They showed pictures of, you know, like, the most stretched out bellies with saggy boobs and big dark lines down them and torn apart skin. And then they handed around photos of close-up genitals with STIs on them and said, ‘this will happen to your fanny.’

Hayley:        Also, the woman who taught me about sex education was a lesbian. I wonder if that skewed it in any way. We didn’t learn a lot about the willies.

Fletch:         She put up a picture of a penis, she was like ‘ew.’

Vaughan:    Ew, look at this thing. Yuck. It’ll get you pregnant. Ew, yuck. It’ll give you herpes. Ew, yuck. I’ll tell you what won’t – a lovely vagina.

[3]  The hosts took calls from listeners and read out text messages with stories of ‘rogue’ relationships and sexuality education experiences, including:

Caller:          On the front of her pants in chalk, she had drawn all of the female organs in all of the right places… there was uterus, there was ovaries, there was all of the parts, and how it all worked. And then she flipped around, and, on the back, she had all the male parts…. it was fairly traumatising.

Vaughan [reading out text message]: I grew up in England and went to a high school in the 2000s. We had a classic banana condom situation… But then all the girls got sent home with these, like, animatronic baby things for three days to experience motherhood… I was thirteen and traumatised.

Vaughan [reading out text message]: Our sex ed teacher proceeded to let us know her husband was allergic to lube. He worked at our school too.

The complaint

[4]  Samantha Tuck complained that the broadcast breached the children’s interests standard of the Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand on the basis the segment included discussions of sexual education and references to genitalia, ‘wooden penises’ and condoms during a time that children could be listening. Tuck also said there was no adequate warning that the discussion would cover sexual material to warn parents with children who were listening.

The broadcaster’s response

[5]  NZME did not uphold Tuck’s complaint for the following reasons:

  • ZM is an adult-targeted radio station for 18–39-year-olds. Their content is not targeted at children, and it is expected that any children listening would be doing so under adult supervision.
  • Fletch, Vaughan & Hayley regularly features adult humour and non-explicit sexual content.’
  • ‘while mentioning genitalia and contraception may cause children some embarrassment, this is not likely to disproportionately disturb children, or impair their physical, mental or social development.’
  • ‘under the current guidelines, primary school students learn about [a] wide range of topics including the human body (including genitals); body safety (including hygiene and appropriate touching); consent, pressure, coercion and rights; puberty and body development; human reproduction; contraception; and different types of relationships (including intimate relationships). As such, we do not consider that the broadcast segments you have complained about contained content that would be harmful to children specifically.’

The standard

[6]  The children’s interests standard1 requires broadcasters to ensure children can be protected from broadcasts which might adversely affect them. Material likely to be considered under this standard includes violent or sexual content or themes, offensive language, social or domestic friction and dangerous, antisocial, or illegal behaviour where such material is outside the expectations of the programme’s classification.2

[7]  The focus of this standard is on ensuring the audience has sufficient information or opportunity to exercise discretion or protect children from unsuitable content.

Our analysis

[8]  We have listened to the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

[9]  As a starting point, we considered the right to freedom of expression. It is our role to weigh up the right to freedom of expression - which includes the broadcaster’s right to offer a range of content and programming, as well as the audience’s right to receive that content - against any harm potentially caused by the broadcast. We may only intervene when the limitation on the right to freedom of expression is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.3

[10]  We acknowledge the segment dealt with sexual themes, and that the complainant considered it was inappropriate for her young children. However, the Code of Broadcasting Standards acknowledges it is not possible or practicable for broadcasters to shield children from all potentially unsuitable content.4 A key consideration is whether the content complained about was outside audience expectations for the type of programme.

[11]  Radio is not subject to a timeband system in the same way as free-to-air television. The Code recognises children are most likely to be listening to the radio during the school drop-off and pick-up times.5 The segment started at approximately 7:42 am and we consider this is a time that children may have been listening. However, we do not uphold the complaint for the following reasons:

  • The Authority has previously recognised ZM as an ‘edgy radio station’ with a target audience of 18-to-39-year-olds, which is known for ‘pushing boundaries of acceptability’.6 As noted by the broadcaster, Fletch, Vaughan and Hayley regularly includes ‘adult humour,’ including non-sexually explicit content.
  • We agree with the broadcaster that children were unlikely to be listening unsupervised given they are not the target or intended audience.
  • The segment was introduced with reference to the Ministry of Education guidelines for relationship and sexuality education, and a comment that the host wanted to ‘chat about like the wild things you were taught in sex ed.’ We consider this was sufficient to signpost to listeners the upcoming discussion would likely include references to genitalia and contraception, allowing them to exercise choice and discretion as to whether to allow children to listen to the broadcast.7
  • In any case, we consider the subject matter of the clip, as well as the references to genitalia and contraception, are subjects which are taught to children at school. While these topics may be embarrassing, they are not harmful to children. Although some children may have been curious about the topics discussed, audience expectations of ZM and Fletch, Vaughan and Hayley anticipate parental guidance, mitigating any potential harm.

[12]  Considering the above factors, we consider the audience had sufficient information and opportunity to exercise discretion or protect children from content they considered to be unsuitable. Accordingly, we do not consider there was sufficient potential harm caused by the broadcast to warrant regulatory intervention and consider upholding the complaint would unreasonably limit the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

For the above reasons, the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority.


Susie Staley
22 May 2024  



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

1  Samantha Tuck’s formal complaint – 26 February 2024

2  NZME’s response to the complaint – 22 March 2024

3  Tuck’s referral to the Authority – 27 March 2024

4  NZME’s further comments – 23 April 2024

1 Standard 2, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand
2 Guideline 2.2
3 Introduction, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 4
4 Commentary, Standard 2, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 10
5 Guideline 2.1
6 See Williams and The Radio Network Ltd, Decision No. 2014-019 at [6]
7 See Mitchell and NZME Radio Ltd, Decision No. 2022-028 at [17] for a similar finding.