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
During Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury a caller to the programme discussed her experience with divorce legal proceedings in the Family Court and subsequent appeals. A complaint was made that, by allowing the caller to disclose details of the proceedings, the broadcaster breached the law and order standard. The Authority expressed serious concerns with the way in which the call was allowed to progress, as private information was disclosed by the caller which had been suppressed in the Family Court. The Authority found the broadcaster needs to be more alert to the issues surrounding Family Court matters and similar proceedings as issues of contempt, as well as fairness and privacy, may arise. However, the Authority did not consider the broadcaster could reasonably be said to have actively encouraged listeners to break the law by allowing the caller on air, in the manner envisaged by the law and order standard.
Not Upheld: Law and Order
During a segment broadcast on The Edge, the radio hosts made several references to the names ‘Mark Hunt’ and ‘Mike Hunt’, with the apparent intention to imply the phrase, ‘my c***’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this conversation breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found that, while the conversation was gratuitous and immature, the hosts did not explicitly use the phrase, and the segment as a whole was not so extreme or offensive that it went beyond audience expectations of The Edge radio station. The Authority also declined to uphold the complaint under the children’s interests standard, finding children were unlikely to understand the conversation, mitigating the broadcast’s potential harm.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children's Interests
Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive.
The song ‘Fire Water Burn’ by the Bloodhound Gang was broadcast on The Rock FM at 5.45pm on 25 October 2017. The song contained the word ‘motherfucker’, which was partially censored, and also contained lyrics such as, ‘but if I crashed into Uranus I would stick it where the sun don't shine’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the song, in its edited format, breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority acknowledged that the censoring could have been more effective in disguising the word used, and that some of the lyrics may offend listeners. However, the Authority found overall the song did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of good taste and decency taking into account the context, including audience expectations of The Rock and rock songs, and the longstanding popularity of this particular song. Therefore limiting the right to freedom of expression was not justified in this case.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
During The Edge’s afternoon show Jono, Ben & Sharyn, host Jono Pryor referred to a particular television channel as ‘the wanker channel’. A complaint was made that Mr Pryor’s use of the term ‘wanker’ was inappropriate and offensive. The Authority found that, taking into account relevant contextual factors including The Edge’s target audience, audience expectations of Jono, Ben & Sharyn and the nature of the explicit language used, the comment did not reach the threshold required to justify limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
An interview was broadcast on Afternoons with Wendyl Nissen with a journalist, about an article she had written regarding the upcoming perjury trial of the secret witnesses who testified in David Tamihere’s murder trial. During the interview the journalist discussed the discovery of one victim’s body, saying, ‘you think of a body turning up… it’s really… bones. The trampers who found [the] body actually stepped on it before they saw it.’ Ms Nissen replied: ‘So there was a crunch’, adding, ‘– sorry to be disgusting’. A complaint was made that this comment was ‘disgusting, disrespectful’ and ‘in poor taste’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the good taste and decency standard, finding that Ms Nissen’s immediate apology after the comment, and other contextual factors, mitigated any potential harm or distress caused by the comment, and it did not reach the high threshold necessary to find a breach of the good taste and decency standard.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
A segment on Thane & Dunc included an interview with a man, X, who had a relationship with a couple (the complainant and Z). During the interview, X described the nature of the relationship. He did not name the couple, referring to them as ‘A’ and ‘B’. A second interview with X was broadcast the following day, during which the hosts told X they had spoken with the couple, who alleged the relationship was abusive. The hosts interrogated X about his behaviour, then demanded X apologise and agree to make no further contact with the couple involved. The Authority upheld a complaint that these broadcasts breached the privacy of the complainant and Z. The Authority found that little, if any, sensitivity or respect was shown for the dignity, safety, reputation and mental wellbeing of the parties involved, and this represented a serious breach of broadcasting standards and a serious lack of understanding of the parties’ right to privacy.
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $3,000 compensation to JN and $3,000 compensation to Z for the breaches of privacy; Section 16(4) $2,500 costs to the Crown
During Jay-Jay, Dom & Randell, the hosts discussed their conversation with a guest the previous day who was described as a successful voice coach, and who gave tips about putting on a ‘sexy voice’. One of the hosts prank called two phone sex chat lines and spoke to the operators to see whether they used a ‘sexy voice’. One of the operators he spoke with was the complainant, who discussed practical aspects of the service, including how calls were conducted and paid for. A distinctive sound could be heard in the background of the call. The Authority upheld a complaint from the operator that this broadcast breached her privacy and was unfair. The combination of the extended audio of the complainant’s voice and the background sounds meant that she could be identified by people beyond family and close friends who would reasonably be expected to know about her phone sex chat line business. The complainant was also unaware she was being recorded and did not consent to the broadcast of this information. This resulted in a breach of her privacy and was also unfair. The Authority did not uphold the remaining aspects of BL’s complaint.
Upheld: Privacy, Fairness
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Balance, Accuracy
Orders: $2,000 privacy compensation; $1,500 costs to the Crown
During a segment on Jay-Jay, Dom & Randell, the show’s hosts asked callers to submit a ‘corny joke’. A caller submitted the following joke: ‘What’s the hardest part about cooking a vegetable? Trying to fit the wheelchair in the pot.’ Before the caller delivered the punchline, one of the hosts (who believed he knew the joke), asked his co-hosts to switch off their microphones so they could discuss it. The hosts also spoke to their producer, asking whether it was appropriate to air the punchline to the joke. After some deliberation, they decided to allow the joke to be broadcast. The hosts reacted to the punchline by saying, ‘No! No! That’s a terrible joke!’ and ‘That’s not a joke!’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment was in poor taste and discriminatory. While the Authority found the joke to be offensive and distasteful, taking into account the context of the broadcast and the reactions of the hosts, it did not consider the material reached the threshold necessary to find a breach of the good taste and decency standard. The broadcast of the joke also did not amount to hate speech or vitriol intended to encourage the different treatment, or devalue the reputation of, people with disabilities as a section of the community.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
Hosts on The Morning Sound radio show discussed the news that the Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka had made a number of workers redundant. The hosts commented that the Brewery was where the ‘pretty’ and ‘hot girls’ worked and expressed their concern about them being ‘laid off’, making comments such as, ‘All the pretty girls are going…’, ‘I hope they don’t get rid of any of the hot girls’, and ‘I don’t know if I can drink the beer if it’s not had the ladies’ touch.’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this discussion was denigrating or discriminatory towards any female workers made redundant, or to women generally. The hosts were clearly referring to a series of satirical Tui television advertisements, which depicted the Mangatainoka Brewery as being run by women. In any event, any female workers who may have been made redundant were not a section of the community covered by the standard.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
During The Edge’s Smash! 20 countdown show, a caller successfully answered a series of questions based on the songs in the countdown and won a prize. While taking the caller’s personal details, the announcer left the phone channel in ‘on-air’ mode and inadvertently broadcast the caller’s full name, address, school, date of birth and mobile number. The Authority upheld a complaint that the broadcast breached the caller’s privacy. The caller was clearly identifiable and disclosed a high level of personal detail on air, over which she had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Authority acknowledged the caller’s disclosure was the result of an unfortunate technical error on the announcer’s part, and that the broadcaster took immediate actions to respond to the breach. The Authority did not make any order in these circumstances.
The Rock Morning Rumble included a stunt featuring the Prime Minister, in which he was invited to enter a cage installed in the studio and ‘pick up the soap’. Upon the Prime Minister doing so, the host quoted a recognised rape scene from the film Deliverance, saying, ‘You’ve got a pretty little mouth Prime Minister’. The Authority upheld a complaint that the stunt amounted to a deliberate reference to prison rape that had the effect of trivialising sexual violence and specifically prison rape. While the segment was allegedly intended to be humorous, which is an important aspect of the exercise of free speech, the stunt overstepped the boundaries of legitimate humour and was offensive. The Authority found that listeners and members of the public would likely have found the segment offensive and unacceptable, and that involving the Prime Minister had the potential to attract a wider audience. For the same reasons the Authority found the segment was not socially responsible. The Authority did not, however, uphold the complaint under the law and order standard.
Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming
Not Upheld: Law and Order
Orders: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement; section 16(4) costs to the Crown $1,000
The Breeze ran a competition in which listeners were invited to nominate an individual they felt to be deserving of a shopping spree. The programme hosts spoke to a woman (G) on air about her nomination of her friend (N), whom she described as just having left a ‘potentially abusive relationship’. The Authority upheld a complaint from N’s husband, LN, that the broadcast breached his privacy. The Authority found that LN was identifiable due to a combination of identifying features disclosed within the broadcast and readily accessible information outside of the broadcast. It considered the allegations of a potentially abusive relationship and other intimate details of the relationship were highly sensitive and personal, and clearly carried the quality of private information. The disclosure of such information would be highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
Order: Section 13(1)(d) – privacy compensation to the complainant $1,000
During Talk with Willie and Alison, host Willie Jackson referred to a caller (who seemed to snore, rather than talk, on the other end of the phone) as ‘one of those crackers’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the term ‘cracker’ was a racial slur which discriminated against white people and/or poor white people. The host did not appear to use the term in the way alleged by the complainant, but rather as a light-hearted reference to the caller’s state of mind, and could not be said to have encouraged discrimination against, or denigration of, white people and/or poor white people in this context.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
Two hosts on George FM Breakfast asked listeners to send in the names and profiles of female users of Instagram described as ‘do-nothing bitches’. The names of two women, A and B, were submitted. The hosts went on to comment extensively on A’s profile, making inappropriate and disparaging comments about her, and also contacted A and interviewed her on air. The Authority upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks having found breaches of the fairness and good taste and decency standards was insufficient, and also found that the broadcast breached the privacy of both women.
Upheld: Fairness (Action taken), Good Taste and Decency (Action taken), Privacy
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Law and Order, Responsible Programming, Controversial Issues, Accuracy
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $4,000 compensation to A for breach of privacy; section 13(1)(d) $2,000 compensation to B for breach of privacy; section 16(4) $2,000 costs to the Crown
During Talk with Sean Plunket, the CEO of the National Foundation for the Deaf called in to discuss captioning on television, and especially the perceived problem of the lack of captioning of broadcasts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Mr Plunket argued, ‘You can actually watch the rugby with the sound off, you can see – they’ve got big numbers on their backs – you can see what’s happening’ and asked, ‘Really is this such a problem?’ After further discussion, he stated, ‘You do have a hearing problem because you’re not actually engaging in a conversation’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mr Plunket’s comments amounted to bullying and denigrated the deaf community. Taking into account freedom of expression and the context of talkback radio and this particular broadcast, Mr Plunket’s comments did not reach the high threshold necessary for a finding that the broadcast encouraged discrimination or denigration, nor did they go so far as to breach standards of good taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency
During Paul Henry on Radio Live the presenters said ‘bloody’ and ‘bugger’ several times. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this language was unacceptable. These terms constituted low-level coarse language which would not have offended a significant number of listeners in the context of the broadcast. The language was within audience expectations of the presenters, the programme and the radio station.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
The hosts of the Jay-Jay, Mike and Dom show interviewed an eliminated contestant from The Bachelor about her experience on the show. At the end of the item, one of the hosts introduced the new ‘Bachelorette game show’ titled, ‘What’s your cucumber number?’ The premise was for contestants to put cucumbers into their mouths and bite down. Whichever contestant could bite down the farthest along the cucumber would be the winner. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was demeaning to women and unsuitable for children. The broadcast was not outside audience expectations of the station and breakfast radio shows generally, and the innuendo would have gone over the heads of most children.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming
Talkback radio host Sean Plunket reacted to author Eleanor Catton’s comments at a literary festival in India, which were negative about the New Zealand government. He was highly critical of Ms Catton, saying that she was a ‘traitor’ and an ‘ungrateful hua’ among other things. The Authority did not uphold complaints that Mr Plunket’s comments breached broadcasting standards. The nature of Ms Catton’s remarks was such that it was reasonable for them to attract some strong views in response. The host’s comments were within the bounds of audience expectations of talkback radio and within the right to freedom of expression.
Not Upheld: Fairness, Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Controversial Issues, Accuracy