BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Williamson and NZME Radio Ltd - 2023-008 (16 May 2023)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Aroha Beck
  • Ross Williamson
Newstalk ZB


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

During the programme Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder on Newstalk ZB, the host described how he used to make an implement to shoot fireworks as a young boy, ‘à la a good old fashioned sort of flintlock.’ The complainant alleged these comments could have encouraged children listening to imitate the host’s actions and put themselves or others in danger, in breach of the children’s interests standard. The Authority did not uphold the complaint, finding the comments were not likely to adversely affect children, taking into account the programme’s target audience and the nature of the comments. 

Not Upheld: Children’s Interests

The broadcast

[1]  During the programme Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder, broadcast on 11 December 2022 between 6–9am, the host Peter Wolfkamp took a call from a person who advised their neighbours had shot fireworks at their bathroom wall, and sought advice on how to repair the damage. Wolfkamp provided advice on how the problem could be dealt with, noting ‘I actually do quite enjoy fireworks, but it's always good to be a little bit responsible as well.’

[2]  Following this discussion the host stated:

Thank you, hopefully next time you're in the bath, it's a lot more peaceful than having someone firing skyrockets at the window above the bath. When I say responsible with fireworks, I do recall as a very young boy making, under the supervision of my brothers who were equally errant, what was it? It was like a bit of half inch pipe that we would fasten to sort of like a pistol stock with a backstop on it. And then if you cut a little slot at the back of the half inch pipe, you could put a double happy in there, secure it back, and then roll a ball bearing down the front, à la a good old fashioned sort of flintlock, and light the fuse, point it at something like a garage door and the ball bearing makes quite a dent in the garage door, as I recall. … The failure rate was fairly high as well, I have to say. … Please do not instruct anyone. Please don't send me any text messages about irresponsibility. It was a long time ago.

The complaint

[3]  Ross Williamson considered Wolfkamp’s comments contravened the Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand on the basis:

  • The host explained how to make a dangerous implement. Children listening could put themselves or others in danger if they tried to replicate this.
  • It was very possible that children may have been listening, noting there were children’s programmes on RNZ National at the time this aired.
  • While Wolfkamp told listeners not to instruct anyone on this, it was too late at that point.

[4]  Williamson raised the offensive and disturbing content standard as being breached in his initial formal complaint to the broadcaster, and sought to raise the children’s interests standard on referral to the Authority.

The broadcaster’s response

[5]  NZME Radio Ltd did not uphold Williamson’s complaint under the offensive and disturbing content standard. On receiving Williamson’s complaint referral, we also sought NZME’s comments under the children’s interests standard and the promotion of illegal or antisocial behaviour standard (given some concerns raised):

Offensive and Disturbing Content

  • Newstalk ZB is an adult targeted radio station for 30-64 year olds.
  • ‘Furthermore, the show in question is an early morning talkback show broadcast at an hour when only adults are likely to be tuning in and we expect that any children listening would do so under adult supervision.’
  • Talkback hosts are known for making provocative statements to stimulate robust debate.
  • ‘In this case, in the context of the previous call, the host told a story from his childhood. There was no suggestion that listeners should follow suit, to the contrary, the host specifically warned listeners not to instruct anyone, in other words, not “to try this at home”.’
  • The comments did not reach the high threshold required to breach the standard.

Children’s Interests

  • ‘Although this programme was broadcast at the weekend, as already stated, Newstalk ZB is an adult targeted station and we do not anticipate that children would be listening, and that any children who were listening would do so under adult supervision.’
  • The comments were not out outside audience expectations for the programme.
  • ‘In our view, the host’s recollections during this segment were intended to be humorous and this is a material mitigating factor, as is the fact that the host specifically warned listeners against instructing anyone to replicate what he had described.’

Promotion of Illegal or Antisocial Behaviour

  • We are satisfied the segment complained of did not promote illegal or serious antisocial behaviour within the meaning of this standard. Importantly, the host recognised that what he described was not something to be repeated by anyone and specifically warned listeners ‘not to instruct anyone’.

Jurisdiction – scope of complaint

[6]  Under section 8(1B) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Authority is only able to consider complaints under the standard(s) raised in the original complaint to the broadcaster. However, in limited circumstances, the Authority can consider standards not raised in the original complaint where it can be reasonably implied into the wording, and where it is reasonably necessary in order to properly consider the complaint.1

[7]  Williamson raised the offensive and disturbing content standard in his initial complaint to the broadcaster, but relied on the children’s interests standard in his referral to the Authority. While the original complaint did not explicitly rely on the children’s interests standard, its wording raises issues relevant to this standard. We do not consider the offensive and disturbing content standard adequately captures the complainant’s key concerns, and in any event, it was not raised on referral. On this basis, we consider a proper consideration of the complaint requires the implication of the children’s interests standard, and this can be reasonably implied in the initial complaint.

[8]  To the extent the complainant’s concerns related to the promotion of illegal or antisocial behaviour standard, we consider these are adequately captured under the children’s interests standard. Therefore, we do not consider it necessary to imply this additional standard.

The standard

[9]  The children’s interests standard2 requires broadcasters to ensure children are 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.3

Our analysis

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

[11]  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 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.4

[12]  In this case, we have not found actual or potential harm of the nature described in the complaint which justified limiting freedom of expression. We explain our reasons below.

[13]  The purpose of the children’s interests standard is to enable parents and caregivers to protect children from material that disproportionately disturbs them, is harmful, or is likely to impair their physical, mental or social development.5 A ‘child’ is under the age of 14 years.6

[14]  Context, and the audience’s ability to exercise choice and control, are crucial in assessing a programme’s likely practical effect under the standard.7 In this case we note:

  • Nature of the broadcast: Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder is a talkback radio show hosted by Peter Wolfkamp, broadcast on Sundays from 6-9am. In the show Wolfkamp shares his expertise on carpentry and building, takes questions from callers and offers advice on DIY projects.8
  • Target audience: Newstalk ZB is an adult targeted radio station for 35‑64 year olds.9
  • The relevant comments were made on a Sunday at approximately 6.30am (when children may have been listening, although they were not the target audience).10
  • Wolfkamp’s comments were brief, and related to the prior discussion with a caller whose house had been damaged by neighbours shooting fireworks.
  • Wolfkamp was reflecting on a childhood memory, and his tone was light-hearted.
  • After describing the memory, Wolfkamp stated ‘Please do not instruct anyone.’

[15]  In light of the contextual factors above, we do not consider Wolfkamp’s comments were likely to adversely affect children. Radio stations have established target audiences, for whom they legitimately select and schedule content.11 Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder has an adult target audience and, as a talkback show focused on carpentry and building, is unlikely to interest most children.

[16]  While it is possible some children may have happened to hear the comments, we do not consider they were likely to cause any distress or harm to children, or to otherwise encourage them to emulate Wolfkamp’s actions. The comments were brief and used technical language that was likely to go over children’s heads. It is also highly unlikely any children listening would have been able to use these brief comments to create an implement of their own.

[17]  Further, it is expected that any children listening to an adult-targeted radio programme like Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder will be supervised.12 While children allowed to listen the programme may then still hear adult targeted content, parents and caregivers are at least there to discuss and explain it.

[18]  Accordingly, we do not uphold the complaint.

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


Susie Staley
16 May 2023    




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

1  Ross Williamson’s formal complaint to NZME – 11 December 2022

2  NZME’s response to the complaint – 27 January 2023

3  Williamson’s referral to the Authority – 27 January 2023

4  NZME’s further comments – 2 March 2023

5  Williamson’s further comments – 11 April 2023

6  NZME’s final comments – 18 April 2023

7  Williamson’s final comments – 20 April 2023

1 Attorney General of Samoa v TVWorks Ltd [2012] NZHC 131, [2012] NZAR 407 at [62]
2 Standard 2, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand
3 Guideline 2.2
4 Introduction, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 4
5 Commentary, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 10
6 Standard 2, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand
7 Guideline 2.3
8 Newstalk ZB “The Resident Builder” <> 
9 The Radio Bureau “Brand profiles: Newstalk ZB” <>
10 Guideline 2.1
11 Commentary, Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand at page 9
12 See Newton-Wade & Wilson and NZME Radio Ltd, Decision No. 2022-116 at [29] for a similar finding regarding a different talkback programme