Wood and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-036 (17 September 2019)
- Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
- Paula Rose QSO
- Wendy Palmer
- Susie Staley MNZM
BroadcasterRadio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/StationRadio New Zealand National
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that the song Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love breached broadcasting standards. The complaint was that the song lyrics described an ‘intention to stalk, kidnap, imprison and rape’ and the song was inappropriate to broadcast in the afternoon. The Authority determined that the song’s satirical nature and upbeat style reduced the potential for the darker tone of the lyrics to cause harm. The song was within audience expectations for the eclectic music selection of the host programme, Matinee Idle and, taking into account the context of the broadcast, the lyrics did not undermine widely shared community standards and would not have unduly harmed child listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration
 Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love is a song by The Zutons describing the lengths the singer will go to in order to make the subject of the song love him, and questioning why they won’t reciprocate his love. For example, the song lyrics include:1
I’ll chain you up, I’ll make you mine
I’ll keep you locked downstairs
With all the bugs and all the gnats
I’ll feed you rodent hair
I'll keep you in my cellar safe
Oh, to keep you there ’till dawn
I’ll wait until the sun comes up
Then I’ll poke and prod you more
 The song was broadcast during an episode of Matinee Idle at around 2.45pm on 25 April 2019 on RNZ National. As part of our consideration of this complaint, we have listened to a recording of the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority members had to listen to the song a number of times to discern the specific lyrics complained about.
 Tracey Wood submitted the broadcast breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests, violence, law and order and discrimination and denigration standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Standards for the following reasons:
- The song lyrics clearly describe an ‘intention to stalk, kidnap, imprison and rape’.
- The lyrics were inappropriate to broadcast in the afternoon.
- Older children and young adults would ‘easily be able to understand the words’.
- While the song may feature dark humour, that is not suitable to be broadcast on the radio at 3pm on ANZAC Day, when children and families may be listening.
- Children and young people may not recognise that the lyrics are humorous.
- People or the families of people ‘who have been stalked/kidnapped/raped should be able to safely tune-in [sic] to national radio in the afternoon without encountering lyrics about the experience’, regardless of ‘whether it’s dark humour or toxic masculinity or written by a woman’.
The broadcaster’s response
 RNZ did not uphold the complaint for the following reasons:
- The song is an example of depicting unrequited love, which has ‘long been a source of inspiration for song-writing and poetry’.
- The song is ‘from the perspective of a man who wants the subject to love him back’, an unreliable narrator who ‘sings of how he is prepared to stalk and potentially keep that person in his basement – and yet still cannot understand why the love is not reciprocated.’
- The song was co-written by a woman.
- ‘It could be argued that this song is more a commentary on toxic masculinity. It certainly utilises dark humour to make its point.’
The nominated standards
 The good taste and decency standard states that current norms of good taste and decency should be maintained, consistent with the context of the programme. The Authority will consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress.2
 The children’s interests standard 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 violent content or themes, offensive language, social or domestic friction and dangerous, antisocial or illegal behaviour where such material is outside audience expectations of the station or programme.3
 The violence standard states that broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.
 The intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal or serious antisocial activity.4
 The discrimination and denigration standard protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.
 Our starting point is that we recognise the right to freedom of expression, including the broadcaster’s right to impart ideas and information and the public’s right to receive that information, and in this case also the artistic expression of the creators of the song. Equally important is our consideration of the level of actual or potential harm that may be caused by the broadcast. We may only interfere and uphold complaints where the limitation on the right to freedom of expression is reasonable and justified.
 The complainant has argued that the song’s lyrics describe an intention to ‘stalk, kidnap, imprison and rape’, that the broadcast could be harmful to people (or their families) who have experienced such trauma, and that children would not understand the dark humour.
 We acknowledge the complainant’s concerns and recognise that depictions of sexual violence can be upsetting. However, we do not agree with the complainant’s characterisation of the song. It is an upbeat indie5 rock song, which contrasts with the dark tone of some of the lyrics and reduces the potential for the broadcast of the song to cause harm to listeners. We reached the view that the broadcast did not breach any of the nominated standards.
Good taste and decency and children’s interests
 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.6 In our consideration of this complaint we found the following contextual factors to be relevant:
- The song was played around 2.45pm on a public holiday when children could be listening.
- Matinee Idle has an adult target audience.
- Matinee Idle is well known for its eclectic, irreverent and idiosyncratic approach to music selection.7
- The song was played more than two and a half hours into the programme, so by the time the song aired, listeners would have been well aware of the nature of the programme and likely content.
- The song was satirical.8
- While the singer is describing stalking and kidnapping, the lyrics do not go into graphic detail, nor do they explicitly describe rape.
- The song exaggerates the singer’s obsession to the extreme, and the use of hyperbole in this way would not encourage or endorse such behaviour.
- The lyrics are difficult to discern and are not immediately clear to listeners.
 Having regard to these factors, we have determined that the broadcast of the song did not breach the good taste and decency standard. Taking into account the satirical nature of the song and its upbeat style, we do not consider that it was likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. The contrast of the music style against the darker lyrics cut through the description of the singer’s obsessive, unrequited love, so it did not come across as disturbing or frightening. Rather, the style of the song encouraged audiences to mock the singer’s obsessive musings. The right to freedom of expression includes the right to broadcast satire and dark humour, including through music and artistic expression.
 For the same reasons we find children’s interests were adequately considered. In the context, the broadcast of the song was not likely to unduly disturb or harm any children who happened to be listening.
 We set out our findings in relation to the remaining standards raised by the complainant below:
- Violence:9 The depiction of violence was limited and was justified in the context of the dark humour of the song.10 It was unlikely to incite or encourage violence or brutality.
- Law and Order:11 The law and order standard does not prohibit the depiction of illegal behaviour, and taking into account the satirical nature of the song, we were satisfied that this broadcast was consistent with the maintenance of law and order.
- Discrimination and Denigration:12 The complainant has not identified a particular section of the community who has been discriminated against or denigrated in the song.13 We do not consider that this song encouraged discrimination or the denigration of any section of the community.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
Judge Bill Hastings
17 September 2019
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Tracey Wood’s formal complaint – 26 April 2019
2 RNZ’s response to the complaint – 23 May 2019
3 Tracey Wood’s referral to the Authority – 3 June 2019
4 RNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 25 June 2019
1 See <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5klDusddqc>
2 Commentary: Good Taste and Decency, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 12
3 Guideline 3b
4 Commentary: Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 15
5 See <https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/indie>, ‘Characteristic of the deliberately unpolished or uncommercialized style of small independent pop groups.’
6 See guideline 1a to Standard 1 and guideline 3c to Standard 3
7 See Ken Downie, ‘RNZ’s Matinee Idle: the music show that’s student radio for grownups’ (Noted, 10 January 2018) and Karl du Fresne, ‘Matinee Idle – Phil O’Brien and Simon Morris’ (Noted, 3 June 2011)
8 Satire is the use of humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticise – see <https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/satire>
9 Standard 4 – Violence, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 26
10 Guideline 4b
11 Standard 5 – Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 26
12 Standard 6 – Discrimination and Denigration, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 26
13 Guideline 6a