BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Walker and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-069 (14 November 2018)

  • Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Wendy Palmer
  • Susie Staley MNZM
  • Katherine Walker
Talk Dirty
MediaWorks Radio Ltd
The Edge


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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that it was inappropriate to broadcast the song ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo at 4pm on The Edge. The Authority noted the language complained about was censored in the song, minimising any potential offence or harm caused. Taking into account relevant contextual factors, including audience expectations of The Edge and the popularity and longevity of the song (first released in 2013), the Authority found that children’s interests were adequately considered and the song was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence. Accordingly, any restriction of the right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests 

The broadcast

[1]  The song ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo was broadcast at 4pm on 17 July 2018 on The Edge radio station. Some lyrics in the song broadcast were censored, for example:

  • ‘Sold out arenas, you can suck my [censored]’
  • ‘Chest to chest, tongue on neck, international oral [censored]’
  • ‘Her [censored] so good I bought her a pet’.

The complaint

[2]  Katherine Walker complained the song lyrics were crude, explicit and offensive as they referred to male genitalia. She considered it was unacceptable to play a song with lyrics such as ‘suck my penis’ at 4pm when young children were likely to be listening to The Edge.

[3]  Ms Walker submitted the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  MediaWorks apologised for the offence the song caused the complainant and said it had communicated her concerns to The Edge’s Content Director. Nevertheless it submitted broadcasting standards were not breached taking into account that:

  • The Edge radio station is targeted at adults.
  • Unacceptably offensive language in the song was censored. There was no explicit reference to male genitalia.
  • The song has played on The Edge 626 times since its release in 2013 and it has not been the subject of a complaint until now.

The standards

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress. The purpose of the good taste and decency standard is not to prohibit challenging material, or material that some people may find offensive. Its purpose is to ensure sufficient care is taken so that challenging material is played only in an appropriate context, and that the challenges are not so offensive that they are unacceptable regardless of context.

[6]  The children’s interests standard (Standard 3) states that broadcasters should ensure children can be protected from broadcasts which might adversely affect them. Material likely to be considered under this standard includes sexual material or themes and offensive language.2

Our findings

[7]  When we consider a complaint that a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards, we first look at the right to freedom of expression, which is highly valued in New Zealand and enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. We weigh the right to freedom of expression against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast. This could be harm to an individual, or as in this case, harm to society or the audience generally.

[8]  Context is highly relevant to our assessment of whether the broadcast undermined widely-shared community standards and whether the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of children.3 In our consideration of this complaint we found the following contextual factors to be relevant:

  • The song was played at 4pm when children could be listening.
  • The Edge has an adult target audience.
  • Established audience expectations of The Edge include that it will often feature adult themes and edgy or challenging content and music.
  • Certain language in the song was censored. There was no explicit reference to male genitalia.
  • ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo has been played on The Edge and other mainstream radio stations since 2013.
  • The song and Jason Derulo are well known and popular.

[9]  Having regard to these factors, we have reached the view that the broadcast of the song did not reach the threshold necessary to find a breach of the good taste and decency standard. The song lyrics did not go beyond audience expectations of The Edge radio station, particularly taking into account the song’s popularity and longevity and the number of times it has been broadcast since 2013, as well as audience expectations of The Edge.

[10]  When we listened to the song we recognised that it contained lyrics of a sexual nature, however there were no explicit references to male genitalia, and the broadcast did not contain the specific lyric complained about. The most sexually suggestive lyrics were censored in the version broadcast (see paragraph [1]).

[11]  For the same reasons we find children’s interests were adequately considered. While children may have been listening to The Edge at 4pm, language that may be inappropriate for younger listeners was edited out and was not audible, minimising any potential harm.

[12]  In these circumstances any limit on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified, and we therefore do not uphold the complaint.

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


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Judge Bill Hastings
14 November 2018



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

1     Katherine Walker’s formal complaint – 18 July 2018
2     MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 15 August 2018
3     Ms Walker’s referral to the Authority – 16 August 2018
4     MediaWorks’ confirmation of no further comment – 5 September 2018

1 Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

2  Guideline 3b

3 See guideline 1a to Standard 1 and guideline 3c to Standard 3