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BSA finds coarse language in Comedy Gala broadcast did not breach broadcasting standards

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has not upheld a complaint about offensive language on the broadcast of a recording of the TVNZ 2 live comedy event, Best Foods Christmas Comedy Gala.

The complaint under the Good Taste and Decency Standard was not upheld as the Authority considered the broadcast was adequately signposted.

The BSA noted that a written and verbal warning appeared at the start of the programme, and audience advisories were clearly visible, displayed at the right-hand corner of the screen after each ad-break. Signposting enables audience members to make informed viewing choices.

In its decision, the Authority said it recognises humour as a valuable way to create awareness about diverse perceptions, social issues and to inject new ideas.

“Stand-up comedy shows are an important platform for comics to present their ideas, and to entertain. A high threshold is required to justify limiting each comic’s right to freedom of expression,” the BSA said.  

The Authority said content in the broadcast was within what the viewers could reasonably expect from a stand-up comedy show, given the warnings provided. Audience members had adequate information to allow them to make their own viewing choices.



For more information contact Pete Barnao on 021 623 794



The programme was broadcast on 20 December 2020 at 8:30pm on TVNZ 2. The full decision is available at The decision was made under the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice (2020 edition) which is available to view on our website:


The BSA is an independent Crown entity that oversees the broadcasting standards regime in New Zealand. The BSA determines complaints that broadcasts have breached standards, undertakes research and oversees the development of broadcasting standards in consultation with broadcasters.

The Authority members are Judge Bill Hastings (Chair), Paula Rose QSO, Susie Staley MNZM and Leigh Pearson. The Chief Executive is Glen Scanlon.


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