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Taylor and The Radio Network Ltd - 2006-122

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa
  • Diane Musgrave

Complainant

  • Howard Taylor of Christchurch

Dated

22nd February 2007

Number

2006-122

Programme

Radio Sport

Channel/Station

Radio Sport

Broadcaster

The Radio Network Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Radio Sport – played soundtrack which conveyed the impression that a woman was having sex with a bull – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

Findings
Principle 1 (good taste and decency) – soundtrack was gratuitous and prolonged – theme of bestiality would have offended a significant number of listeners – played when children were likely to be listening – upheld

No Order

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]    At approximately 10.15am on Sunday 22 October 2006, the presenter of Radio Sport played an audio track containing sounds which conveyed the impression that a woman was having sex with a bull. The soundtrack lasted for 34 seconds, after which the presenter made the following comments:

My god is there nothing those people won’t get up to up there. I guess if you spend most of your life looking at the back end of a cow it’s liable to affect you in the long run.

Complaint

[2]    Howard Taylor made a formal complaint about the item to The Radio Network Ltd, the broadcaster. He said that the soundtrack was “gross bad taste”, and contended that it had breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code by conveying the impression that a woman was having sex with a bull. In the complainant’s view, the presenter’s comments had reinforced that impression.

Principles

[3]    TRN assessed the complaint under Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

Principle 1

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4]    In its response, TRN stated that Radio Sport contained edgy material and at times what could be described as “bar-room humour”. While it acknowledged that some people could find this puerile and not very humorous, TRN said it catered for the male target audience who listened to programmes such as the one complained about.

[5]    The broadcaster maintained that the sounds heard by the complainant were intended to reflect “the provincial, country cousin (Waikato), putting it up the city slicker (Wellington) in the NPC rugby final”. It said:

While we agree that this wasn’t particularly amusing, under the targeted audience scenario, it fails to breach the code.

Referral to the Authority

[6]    Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s decision, Mr Taylor referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated his view that the programme breached Principle 1, and stated that TRN’s response “only adds to the sense of bad taste and indecency”. Mr Taylor argued that “if broadcasting sounds replicating the sound of someone having sex with an animal are not considered inappropriate, then what is?”

Authority's Determination

[7]    The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.  The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[8]    When the Authority determines a complaint alleging a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into account the context in which the programme was broadcast. On this occasion, the item complained about was broadcast on Radio Sport, which is targeted mainly at males aged 18 to 59 years. However, the item complained about was broadcast at 10.15am on a Sunday morning, and the Authority notes that even niche-targeted stations are expected to exercise a degree of discretion during times that children normally listen to the radio.

[9]    In the Authority’s view, the item breached standards of good taste and decency. It is in no doubt that the soundtrack was intended to represent a woman having sexual intercourse with a bull. The Authority considers that the connotation of bestiality would have been offensive and distasteful to a significant number of listeners, particularly because the soundtrack was prolonged and gratuitous.

[10]    The Authority also considers that, instead of ameliorating the impact of the soundtrack, the presenter’s subsequent remarks confirmed the implication of bestiality. Taking into account the above factors, the Authority concludes that the broadcast breached Principle 1 on this occasion.

Bill of Rights

[11]    For the avoidance of doubt, the Authority records that it has given full weight to the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and has taken into account all the circumstances of the complaint in reaching this determination. For the reasons given above, the Authority considers that its exercise of powers on this occasion is consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

 

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by The Radio Network Limited of an item on Radio Sport on 22 October 2006 breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

Having upheld the complaint, the Authority may make orders under sections 13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. It does not intend to impose an order on this occasion. The Authority considers that the public release of the decision upholding the complaint is sufficient in all the circumstances.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
22 February 2007

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1             Howard Taylor’s formal complaint – 23 October 2006
2            TRN’s decision on the formal complaint – 6 November 2006
3            Mr Taylor’s referral to the Authority – 10 November 2006
4            TRN’s response to the Authority – 27 November 2006