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BSA finds news item on controversial pub wall-hanging did not breach standards

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News that discussed a controversial wall-hanging in a Puhoi Pub bearing the n-word, and included footage of the wall-hanging itself.

The complaint alleged the broadcast breached the Good Taste and Decency standard. In its decision not to uphold the complaint, the Authority noted the item censored verbal reference to the term by the pub’s owner and was preceded by a verbal warning that some viewers may find details in the story distressing.

The Authority also noted the item’s footage of the wall-hanging was part of its critical examination of the issue. The offensive term was not depicted outside that context, and the broadcast carried significant public interest in creating an active public discourse.

“The footage, which depicted the visual impression provided by the wall hanging and the prominence of the word, was not gratuitous but ensured viewers understood both the nature and gravity of the issue and what term was in question,” the BSA said in its decision.

“It also helped the broadcaster tell the story of the customer, whose upsetting experience of the wall-hanging facilitated an informed public discourse on the issue.”

Having regard to the relevant context and value of the item, the Authority found the broadcast was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress or undermine widely shared community standards.



For more information contact Pete Barnao on 021 623 794.



The programme was broadcast on 1 News on 12 January 2021. 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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