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Toki and The RadioWorks Ltd - 2002-210

Members

  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • R Bryant
  • J H McGregor

Complainant

  • Te Marunui Toki of Christchurch

Dated

17th December 2002

Number

2002-210

Channel/Station

Lite FM

Broadcaster

The RadioWorks Ltd


Complaint
Lite FM – Name Game Competition – excluded unusual names – unfair – sexist – racist

Findings
Principle 7 Guideline 7a – competition neither sexist nor racist – no uphold

Principle 5 – not applicable – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

[1] As part of the Name Game station promotion run by Lite FM in Christchurch, names were announced on-air over a period of six weeks. When their name was read out, listeners were asked to call the station and enter a draw for $20,000.

[2] Te Marunui Toki complained to The RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster of Lite FM, that the competition was sexist, as it excluded people of one gender when names of the other gender were called out, and racist, as Polynesian names were not announced. He also complained that it was unfair as unusual names were not included.

[3] In response, The RadioWorks said it used a wide range of names, including Polynesian names, and, at times, listeners were invited to nominate names. It declined to uphold the complaint.

[4] Dissatisfied with The RadioWorks’ decision, Te Marunui Toki referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

[5] The members of the Authority have listened to a tape of the broadcast announcing the competition and have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The Programme

[6] During September–October 2002, Christchurch’s Lite FM broadcast a Name Game promotion. Listeners were asked to call the station when their name was read out, and to enter into a draw for $20,000.

The Complaint

[7] Te Marunui Toki complained to The RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster of Lite FM, that the competition was sexist and racist, and disadvantaged many people.

[8] It was sexist, he wrote, as names used were either only male or female names and thus excluded members of the other gender, and it was racist, he added, as the names used were all Pakeha names. It was unfair, he wrote, to people with unusual names as such names were not broadcast.

The Standards

[9] Neither the complainant nor the broadcaster nominated a standard which the broadcast was considered to have contravened. Given the material raised in the complaint, the Authority has assessed the complaint under Guideline 7a of Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. They read:

Principle 7

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to be socially responsible.

Guideline

7a  Broadcasters will not portray people in a manner which encourages denigration of or discrimination against any section of the community on account of gender, race, age, disability, occupational status, sexual orientation; or as the consequence of legitimate expression of religious, cultural or political beliefs. This requirement does not extend to prevent the broadcast of material which is:

i) factual; or

ii) a genuine expression of serious comment, analysis or opinion, or

iii) is by of legitimate humour or satire.

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[10] Explaining that the competition ran for a period of six weeks, The RadioWorks denied that it was either sexist or racist, or that people with unusual names were treated unfairly. While it was not possible to call out all the names used throughout the world, it said it had announced "a large cross-section of male and female names from different races." It listed five Polynesian names used and added that, to some extent, it invited listeners to nominate names.

[11] The RadioWorks stated that "many people have an opportunity to win" the $20,000, and it declined to uphold the complaint.

The Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

[12] On the basis that with a name "Te Marunui", he was not given what he described as a "fair chance" to participate in the competition, the complainant proposed to the broadcaster that the selection criteria be changed to allow people to enter the draw if their names began with an announced letter of the alphabet.

[13] While acknowledging that the broadcaster made an effort to include as many people as possible, the complainant referred his complaint to the Authority on the basis that the game was "too restrictive and unfair on the many cultures and sexes in this country".

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[14] The RadioWorks explained that the competition had been run successfully for three years and that a cross-section of names by gender and ethnicity had been used. It also pointed out that listeners were invited to nominate names. The complaint that the competition was sexist or racist, it wrote, was "completely without foundation". It declined the complainant’s request to change the criteria.

The Complainant’s Final Comment

[15] Mr Toki reiterated his complaint that people with unusual names were excluded from the competition. The use of male or female names, he said, excluded participants from the other sex. He demanded that the game be restructured to ensure that it was fair to all New Zealanders.

The Authority’s Determination

[16] The Name Game was a station promotion run by Lite FM in Christchurch over a period of six weeks. The broadcaster advised that the format had been used on a number of occasions during the previous three years. When listeners heard their name read out, they were entitled to call the station and enter a draw for $20,000. Mr Toki complained that the competition was sexist, as it excluded people of one gender when names of the other gender were read out, and racist, as Polynesian names were not announced. He also complained that it was unfair as unusual names were not included.

[17] The RadioWorks, operator of Lite FM, disagreed with the complainant. It wrote:

The competition runs for a period of 6 weeks and over that time we announce a huge cross-section of male and female names from different races. Some recent examples of Polynesian names include Aroha, Hemi, Hoana, Ngaira, Pania. We even go to the extent to open up our air phone lines to invite listeners to nominate names. Another example of the fairness of this competition was when we announced the name John [Hoani], either would qualify to win the $20,000.

[18] In view of this response, the Authority does not accept that the broadcast was sexist or racist. Principle 5 of the Radio Code deals with fairness, and it provides:

Principle 5

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person taking part or referred to.

[19] As the complainant did not take part in the Name Game and was not referred to, the Principle does not apply. Nevertheless, the Authority observes that the broadcaster made some effort to call for nominations, and it accepts that it is unrealistic to expect all names to be included during the competition.

[20] The Authority observes that to find a breach of broadcasting standards on this occasion would be to apply the Broadcasting Act 1989 in such a way as to limit freedom of expression in a manner which is not reasonable or demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society (s.5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990). As required by s.6 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the Authority adopts an interpretation of the relevant standards and applies them in a manner which it considers is consistent with and gives full weight to the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

 

For the above reasons, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
17 December 2002

Appendix

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

  1. Te Marunui Toki’s Formal Complaint to Lite FM (a station belonging to The RadioWorks Ltd) –
    30 September 2002
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Complaint – 30 October 2002
  3. Mr Toki’s Response to The RadioWorks – 4 October 2002
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to Mr Toki – 4 October 2002
  5. Mr Toki’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 7 October 2002
  6. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Authority – 21 October 2002
  7. Mr Toki’s Final Comment – 27 October 2002