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Slocombe and CanWest RadioWorks Ltd - 2004-102

Members

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

Complainant

  • Robert Slocombe of Tauranga

Dated

2nd September 2004

Number

2004-102

Channel/Station

The Edge

Broadcaster

CanWest RadioWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
The Morning Madhouse – The Edge – host’s comments – men who use moisturiser do not necessarily “take it up the bum” – host’s “arse” so firm he could open a twist top stubby with his “butt cheeks” – various other comments – alleged breach of good taste and decency

Findings
Principle 1 (good taste and decency) – comments crass and vulgar but did not reach threshold in context – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] Just before 6.30am on 16 April 2004, one of the hosts of The Morning Madhouse on radio station The Edge asked listeners to telephone with the answer to the following question: “13% of men secretly do what?”

[2] The first caller suggested that they “shave their balls” and that “females don’t mind getting ‘down there’ and licking”. After the second caller’s suggestion – that 13% of men have manicures or facials – the correct answer was given: “13% of men secretly use moisturiser”.

[3] The hosts then discussed men’s use of moisturiser. The discussion included one of the hosts commenting, “Just cos you’re a guy and you use moisturiser doesn’t mean you take it up the bum”.

[4] After a music break, a further caller rang and asked, “How’s Dominic’s arse?” The host (Dominic) answered:

I’ve been working out. My arse is firm. I’ll tell you what – you could give me like a stubby, a twist top stubby, and I could probably open it using my butt cheeks.

Complaint

[5] Robert Slocombe complained under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 to CanWest Radioworks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the broadcast breached standards consistent with the maintenance of good taste and decency.

Principle

[6] CanWest Radioworks Ltd assessed the complaint under Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The principle and its guideline read as follows:

Principle 1

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

Guideline 1a

Broadcasters will take into consideration current norms of decency and good taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs and the wider context of the broadcast eg time of day, target audience.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[7] CanWest Radioworks Ltd did not uphold Mr Slocombe’s complaint, stating:

The discussion was light hearted and bantering and only mildly vulgar. There was no comment that might be classed as obscene or offensive. No coarse language was used and no explicit obscene suggestions made.

Referral to the Authority

[8] Dissatisfied with CanWest Radioworks Ltd’s response, Mr Slocombe referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. He advised the Authority that he considered that the broadcast was “grossly offensive” and in breach of Principle 1.

[9] Mr Slocombe continued:

It might be said that I do not have to listen to the station in question and indeed, I normally do not, but only happened upon the offensive broadcast by chance whilst tuning my radio.

I would be most concerned if my children were to listen to this offensive material which is considered by the radio station as the norm of the day because of the lowering of standards set by themselves. Just another example of the lowering of so many standards in our society and I hope you will agree.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[10] CanWest Radioworks Ltd advised the Authority that it had nothing to add to its response to the complainant.

Authority's Determination

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

[12] When the Authority considers a complaint which alleges a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into consideration the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, relevant contextual factors include:

  • the Authority’s view that children are unlikely to have been in the listening audience at 6.30am
  • the target audience for The Edge, which according to the website of CanWest Radioworks Ltd is “a hit music station with over 200,000 listeners nationwide, appealing to the 15 to 34 demographic”
  • the right to freedom of expression in s.14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

[13] The Authority considers that the comments complained about were crass and vulgar, and that the general tenor of the sexualised banter was juvenile. However, in its view the comments did not reach the threshold required to amount to a breach of Principle 1, taking into account the contextual factors listed above.

[14] The Authority notes that CanWest Radioworks Ltd did not respond to the complainant within the statutory 20 working days. It reminds the broadcaster of its obligations under the Broadcasting Act 1989.

 

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
2 September 2004

Appendix

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

  1. Robert Slocombe’s Formal Complaint to CanWest Radioworks Ltd – 16 April 2004
  2. CanWest Radioworks Ltd’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 24 May 2004
  3. Mr Slocombe’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 28 May 2004
  4. CanWest Radioworks Ltd’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 5 July 2004