Research Ngā Rangahau

Monitoring Community Attitudes in Changing Mediascapes, 2000


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Date published
:  2000

Authors:  Garry Dickinson, Michael Hill, Wiebe Zwaga


  • Quantitative and qualitative research project exploring the language of participants when they talk about broadcasting standards


  • 10 focus group discussions
  • National survey with 1000 randomly selected individuals


  • Research between 1990–1998 has revealed a quite remarkable degree of stability in public opinion regarding broadcasting standards matters
  • Participants were particularly attentive, and seemingly knowledgeable, with respect to the standards issues of screen violence, bad language and the portrayal of sex
  • Contributions to the discussions with respect to balance, fairness and accuracy, privacy, and discrimination were uneven suggesting that the vocabularies in talking about these standards matters were not as developed compared to the more familiar subjects of violence and sex
  • Women were significantly less tolerant of perceived transgressions of broadcasting standards as related to screen violence, bad language, and the portrayal of sex and nudity
  • Men were rather more permissive in their attitudes  
  • 15–24-year-olds were far more accepting of violence, bad language and sexual content compared to the 55-and-over age group
  • The gender and age differences were significantly less when respondents were asked to rank elements of discriminatory practices and intrusions into privacy and fairness
  • Five reasonably clear social profiles emerged:
    • 'Moral Custodians' comprising elderly women were the least accepting on all five measures (i.e. bad language, the portrayal of sex and nudity, violence, discrimination, and privacy and fairness);
    • 'Nosy Parkers' who were not too concerned about intrusions of privacy and fairness, and were over-represented in the lower income groups;
    • 'Mainlanders' – came from the rural South Island who were less worried about discrimination;
    • 'Urbane Young' – judged discrimination unacceptable – predominantly made up of 15–34-year-olds
    • 'New Lads' – who were between 15 and 24 years old and were the most tolerant – one would almost suspect indifferent – on all measures
  • The cluster analysis has opened up a novel understanding of attitudes towards broadcasting standards and their social constituencies