When the hosts of the Willie and JT Show were discussing an industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland, one host expressed his support for the striking workers by saying, for example, “I hope they get aggressive down there at the wharf”, “Go and bust your pickets over some of these scabs”, and, “I am into militant action.” The Authority did not uphold the complaint that these comments breached the law and order and responsible programming standards: the comments amounted to the host’s vehemently expressed opinion and listeners would not have taken them seriously; the broadcast did not encourage listeners to engage in unlawful activity, taking into account the host’s later retractions and other contextual factors; and upholding a complaint about high value protest speech like this would unjustifiably restrict freedom of expression. The complaint about responsible programming was subsumed into consideration of law and order.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Responsible Programming
During the Willie and JT Show on Radio Live the hosts discussed the recent sentencing of the ‘Urewera Four’, comparing their treatment to that of the complainant who was discharged without conviction after being found guilty of similar charges. The complainant phoned in to the programme and explained the background to his case but after the phone call had finished the hosts called him a “psychopath” and “sociopath” and compared him to “Hannibal Lecter”. The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the fairness standard: the hosts’ comments amounted to personal abuse and the complainant was unable to defend himself as the phone call had ended. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comments breached the controversial issues standard: though the broad focus of the item was a controversial issue of public importance, the item did not amount to a “discussion” of that issue but presented the hosts’ opinions; and the broadcaster had made reasonable efforts, and given reasonable opportunities, to present significant viewpoints, by allowing the complainant on air.
The Authority made no order.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
Willie and JT. Hosts joked that Prime Minister had polio. Not upheld (good taste and decency).
Willie and JT. Host broadcast listener’s email address and said “send him an email”. Not upheld (privacy).