News Ngā Pūrongo o te Wā

BSA news and media releases including the BSA Pānui newsletter

New Zealanders weigh public interest and potential harm in gender identity discussion

New Zealanders see significant public interest in airing diverse views about gender identity but are concerned about the potential for community harm, new BSA research finds.

While views are similar across ages and ethnicities, levels of concern over potential harm versus the right to freedom of expression differ markedly according to people’s comfort levels with gender diversity.

Malicious intent and the risk of harm to vulnerable gender diverse communities are top-of-mind for ‘higher comfort New Zealanders’.* ‘Lower comfort New Zealanders’ prioritise freedom of speech, and perceive a lack of a balanced discourse which is not in the public interest.

The latest instalment in the BSA’s biennial ‘litmus testing’ survey was commissioned after the Authority saw an influx of complaints about TV and radio coverage of gender identity issues, including last year’s New Zealand visit by Posie Parker.

The survey explores community attitudes towards these issues, and whether BSA decisions under the Discrimination and Denigration, and Fairness broadcasting standards reflect these attitudes and are understood by the public.

An average of 91% of survey participants agreed with five BSA decisions that were tested.**

Key findings include:

  • Participants feel gender identity issues are a ‘hot topic’ that can be exploited by broadcasters to gain viewers or listeners.
  • There is a strong sense New Zealanders must be ‘for’ or ‘against’ gender diverse people due to how this topic tends to be framed.
  • There is a consensus that there’s significant public interest in sharing diverse perspectives.
  • Higher comfort New Zealanders believe it’s important for broadcasts to be respectful and inclusive, avoiding negative stereotypes, and that discriminatory opinions about gender diverse people with malicious intent have no place being broadcast.
  • Lower comfort New Zealanders place high value on ensuring diverse perspectives can be shared, even when some may find them discriminatory. They have a strong sense the discourse on TV and radio lacks balance, with more ‘liberal’ perspectives often favoured.
  • Regardless of their view prior to reading BSA decisions, most people accept the reasoning, even when they don’t agree with the outcome. Most find them clear and easy to understand.

BSA Chief Executive Stacey Wood says the results show broad agreement that respectful sharing of perspectives on TV and radio can be beneficial to society.

“This must, however, be framed constructively to avoid unintentionally – or intentionally – harming viewers or listeners. People are saying it’s not okay when an opinion is intentionally malicious. 

“The BSA’s fundamental task is to balance freedom of expression against potential harm. Despite wide divergence in people’s views and comfort levels around gender identity, there appears to be a broad-based appreciation of the challenge we face and support for the BSA’s decision making.

“We welcome this assurance that our decisions reflect community standards and are generally getting the balance right,” says Wood.

The full research report is available at: Litmus Testing 2024.



* Participants were screened to determine their comfort with the idea of having a gender diverse person in their family, as a friend, as a colleague and as Prime Minister. Those uncomfortable with most situations are considered in the report as ‘lower comfort’; those comfortable with most are considered ‘higher comfort’.

** BSA decision tested                                                                                % rating the decision as

                                                                                                                    acceptable/good/very good

Morning Report – Trans men/non-binary people missing out on cervical screening          98%

Saturday Morning – Misgendering and ‘deadnaming’ interviewee                                         91%

Saturday Morning – Interview with gender-critical philosopher                                              90%

New Conservative Party election ad – Policy to remove ‘gender ideology’ from schools   89%

1News – Reporting on Posie Parker                                                                                             86%

Every two years members of the public are invited to ‘litmus test’ BSA decisions on a certain topic or standards. This year’s research was carried out for the BSA by Verian. It included qualitative and quantitative methodologies with a spread of ethnicities, age, gender, income and household type. Verian spoke to 581 people online. Fieldwork was conducted from 8 to 20 April 2024. The maximum margin of error is +/-4%. 


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.

Follow us on X @BSA_NZ  or on LinkedIn

For more information see our website: