The Authority did not uphold a complaint that a spoof of OMC hit song ‘How Bizarre’, in which the singer mimicked the original artist’s accent, breached the discrimination and denigration standard. The Authority found the accent used was an attempt to imitate the distinctive singing voice of Mr Fuemana and sound of ‘How Bizarre’, in the spirit of spoofing the song itself, rather than an attempt to imitate a specifically Māori or Pacific Island English accent. It did not encourage discrimination against or denigration of Māori or Pacific Islanders.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
Two complaints about Sean Plunket’s interview of Te Whānau ā Apanui spokesperson Louis Rapihana were upheld under the discrimination and denigration standard. The interview was about the legal basis for iwi roadblocks in the eastern Bay of Plenty under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and what the iwi intended to do if anyone refused to comply with the travel permit requirement established under Alert Level 3. The Authority1 found Mr Plunket’s approach during the interview and comments made on-air afterwards had the effect of amplifying negative stereotypes about Māori and the potential to cause widespread harm.
Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) – broadcast statement; Section 16(4) – $3,000 costs to the Crown
In an episode of The Sean Plunket Working Group, one of the presenters commented ‘fuck this is good radio’ before the commercial break. A complaint that this breached the good taste and decency standard was upheld by the broadcaster in the first instance. The Authority1 did not uphold a complaint that the action taken by the broadcaster was insufficient to remedy the breach, considering the word was not intended to be aired, and the broadcaster upheld the complaint in the first instance, apologising for the mistake. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the references to camps in the broadcast breached the standard as they were made in connection with quarantine management, and did not carry the ‘prison camp’ connotations suggested by the complainant.
Not upheld: Good taste and decency (including action taken)
The Authority has upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks in response to a breach of the alcohol standard during The Morning Rumble was insufficient. The Authority agreed that the item, which focussed on an interviewee’s ability to ‘down’ alcohol at a rapid rate, amounted to alcohol promotion that was socially irresponsible. While the broadcaster had apologised to the complainant, and communicated the importance of the alcohol standard internally to content directors of The Rock FM, the Authority found that this was insufficient to remedy the harm caused by the broadcast.
Upheld: Alcohol (action taken)
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) – broadcast statement; Section 16(4) – $1,000 costs to the Crown
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the host’s language and approach during an interview broadcast on Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket. Mr Plunket interviewed the Chief Executive of Universities New Zealand about the charging of holding fees for accommodation at university halls of residence during the COVID-19 lockdown period. During the interview Mr Plunket appeared increasingly frustrated and hung up on the interviewee after using the phrase, ‘Jesus Christ’. Noting it has previously determined that the use of variations of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ as exclamations or expressions of frustration or surprise did not threaten community standards, the Authority did not find any breach of the good taste and decency standard in this case. It also found that, in the context of robust questioning on a topic of significant public interest, Mr Plunket’s manner and approach, although it was at times rude and overly forceful, did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of the good taste and decency standard or justifying regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has not upheld a complaint about the use of the phrase ‘Jesus Christ’ during Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket. Mr Plunket interviewed the Chief Executive of Universities New Zealand about the charging of holding fees for accommodation at university halls of residence during the COVID-19 lockdown period. At the end of the interview, Mr Plunket used the phrase, ‘Jesus Christ’, reacting to the interviewee’s responses before hanging up on him. Noting it has previously determined that the use of variations of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ as exclamations or expressions of frustration or surprise did not threaten community standards, the Authority did not find any breach of the good taste and decency standard in this case.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The Authority has declined to determine a complaint that a reference to ‘the future King of England’ during a news segment was inaccurate. The complainant has previously referred a number of complaints about similar issues to the Authority, which were either not upheld, with comprehensive reasons given for the Authority’s decision, or which the Authority declined to determine. The complainant’s appeal of a previous decision to the High Court on a similar issue was also dismissed. The Authority therefore declined to determine the complaint under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, on the grounds that it was trivial and vexatious.
Declined to Determine: Accuracy
A complaint that a segment on The Breakfast Club, on More FM, where the hosts made jokes and puns about a woman who died after being pecked by a rooster, breached the good taste and decency standard has not been upheld. The Authority found that, while the comments were insensitive and had the potential to cause offence to family of the deceased, the programme as a whole did not reach the threshold required to justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression. The Authority found that, considering the context of the item (including the target audience of More FM and the audience expectations surrounding The Breakfast Club and its hosts) and the tone of the item, the item did not undermine widely shared community standards and was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress.
Not upheld: Good taste and decency
A complaint that Malcolm Brenner was treated unfairly when interviewed for a segment on Dom, Meg and Randell about his previous sexual relationship with a dolphin has been upheld. MediaWorks interviewed Mr Brenner about his relationship with a dolphin but ultimately decided not to broadcast the interview in full. They did however broadcast a small segment of the interview in which one of the hosts called Mr Brenner ‘sick’ and stormed out of the interview. The Authority found that Mr Brenner was treated unfairly and was not adequately informed about the nature of his participation in the broadcast. In particular, he was misled into thinking a four minute version of the interview would be broadcast (rather than only the brief segment including the host’s reaction to him), when the final broadcast had already occurred. The Authority also found that, while listeners may have already formed a negative impression about Mr Brenner, the broadcast of the interview segment had the potential to adversely affect him and he should have been given the opportunity to comment on air. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the discrimination and denigration, balance and accuracy standards, finding they were not applicable.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that comments made by Duncan Garner and Judith Collins on The AM Show breached the balance and law and order standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Authority found that the comments identified did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance, so the balance standard did not apply. The Authority also found that the broadcast did not breach the law and order standard as it did not contain any content which would have encouraged audiences to break the law.
Not Upheld: Balance, Law and Order
A broadcast of The Long Lunch hosted by Wendyl Nissen included an interview with Horowhenua District Councillor (HDC) Ross Campbell, who talked about his decision to wear a body camera to Council meetings after what was described as incidents of bullying towards him. MediaWorks upheld the complaint under the fairness standard, finding that it should have sought comment from HDC prior to the broadcast, but did not take any remedial action. The Authority upheld HDC’s complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks following the finding of the breach of the fairness standard was insufficient. The Authority found that MediaWorks ought to have broadcast a follow-up item to remedy the breach. The Authority also upheld the complaint that the item was unbalanced as it did not include any comment from HDC or acknowledgement of an alternative viewpoint with respect to the allegations of bullying. Finally, the Authority found the broadcast was likely to mislead audiences by giving the impression that HDC had a systemic culture of bullying, through the absence of the presentation of alternative perspectives, and upheld the complaint under the accuracy standard.
Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Balance, Accuracy
Order: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment of Dom, Meg and Randell breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The Authority found that, while comments made on the show may have been distasteful to some, the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression includes the right to broadcast such material provided this does not cause undue harm. The Authority found that, given the well-established nature of the programme, the station and their target audience, listeners and particularly those with children in their care had sufficient information to make an informed decision about what they listened to. The Authority noted that the standards do not prohibit inexplicit sexual references or sexual innuendo during children’s normally accepted listening times, and it was likely that many of the references during this segment would have gone over the heads of child listeners. In any event, The Edge is not targeted at children and this particular segment, while it may have been distasteful to some, did not meet the threshold to justify regulatory intervention.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment on The AM Show, in which a booth designed to enable doctors to perform discrete testicle examinations was likened to a ‘confession booth’, breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority found that, in the context of the segment, the comparison was unlikely to undermine or violate widely shared community norms. It also did not reach the level of malice or nastiness necessary to denigrate a section of the community. The public health message in the broadcast was an important one and overall the Authority found that any potential for harm did not justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
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 Authority has not upheld a complaint about a RadioLIVE Drive show, which discussed the issue of property managers or landlords asking to see the bank statements of prospective tenants. The Authority found the broadcast did not breach any of the broadcasting standards raised by the complainant, noting the broadcast included a range of viewpoints from the hosts, interviewees and listeners who phoned into the programme. The broadcast discussed a legitimate issue and was in line with audience expectations for the programme and for talkback radio. The Authority therefore found no actual or potential harm that might have outweighed the important right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Privacy, Fairness
A complaint regarding a comment made by radio host Wendyl Nissen about US President Donald Trump has not been upheld. During the segment, which reviewed the book, ‘The President is Missing’, Ms Nissen commented, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if [US President Donald] Trump just went missing? Like we just never heard from him again because someone killed him and put him at the bottom of the ocean…?’ The Authority found the comment did not breach broadcasting standards. This was a flippant comment that was intended to be humorous and was in line with audience expectations for the programme, particularly considering the robust talkback radio environment. The Authority emphasised that humour is an important aspect of freedom of expression and found that limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.
Not Upheld: Violence, Law and Order
A segment on the George FM Saturday Drive Show featured an announcer making comments about the complainant regarding an incident in the past, where the announcer allegedly saw the complainant engaging in certain activities. The broadcaster upheld the complaint under the privacy and fairness standards and issued written apologies to the complainant. The complainant referred the complaint to the Authority on the basis the broadcast also breached the accuracy standard and the apologies did not address the alleged inaccuracies in the broadcast. The Authority did not uphold the accuracy complaint, finding that, due to the nature of the broadcast and audience expectations, the Saturday Drive Show did not amount to ‘news, current affairs or factual programming’ to which the accuracy standard applied. The Authority noted that while the broadcasting standard raised did not apply, there may be alternative avenues for the complainant to have the concerns expressed in the complaint considered.
Not Upheld: Accuracy
During the talkback programme, Overnighter, host Garry McAlpine invited listeners to call in to discuss the issues facing New Zealand in 2018, one of which was the upcoming cannabis referendum. Mr McAlpine strongly expressed his view, throughout the programme, that cannabis should be decriminalised for medicinal and recreational use. A number of callers, including the complainant, expressed their views on the subject, with some supportive of, and others opposed to, Mr McAlpine’s views. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this programme was in breach of broadcasting standards. Talkback radio is known for robust discussion, and broadcasting standards recognise that it is an opinionated environment, with hosts granted some latitude to be provocative and edgy in the interests of generating robust debate. This programme in particular featured genuine discussion on an important issue in New Zealand. As such, the harm alleged to have been caused by the complainant did not outweigh the host’s, or callers’, right to express their opinions as part of a talkback discussion about New Zealand’s future, even if some listeners might have disagreed or found those views distasteful.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration
A segment on Polly & Grant for Breakfast featured the hosts reading out and discussing a list of countries referred to as ‘the last places on Earth with no internet’. The list was long and included countries such as India, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The list was evidently sourced from an online article that contained relevant information about the countries listed having internet user penetration rates of less than 20%. That information was omitted during the broadcast, and created an impression that the countries listed had no internet. The Authority nevertheless did not uphold a complaint under the accuracy standard. The Authority noted that the accuracy standard only applies to news, current affairs or factual programming and found that it did not apply to this light-hearted, entertainment-based programme. The Authority noted that, while the information broadcast was incorrect, the hosts’ discussion of the relevant countries did not contain the malice or invective required to encourage discrimination or denigration, or undermine widely shared community standards.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
During Afternoon Talk with Wendyl Nissen, Ms Nissen interviewed Police Association President, Chris Cahill. Mr Cahill discussed a recent survey which indicated an increase in police being threatened by firearms. Mr Cahill expressed his views on the potential causes of this increase, the links between the increase and the increase of methamphetamine in New Zealand, the arming of police officers, the use of MSSA (military-style, semi-automatic) firearms, and firearm registration. The Authority did not uphold two complaints that the interview breached the balance standard. The Authority found that the broadcast was a light-touch interview, albeit on a serious topic, which created an audience expectation that the interview was approaching the firearms issues from Mr Cahill’s perspective and that it did not purport to be an in-depth balanced examination of the issues raised. The Authority did not find any statements made during the interview to be materially inaccurate, nor did it find the interview to be unfair to any person or organisation.
Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness