An exchange on The Rock included a conversation between the announcer and an actor portraying a fictitious Australian character called Darryl Brock, during which Darryl Brock asked the announcer whether a woman announcer had "big tits" and if "she bang[ed] like a shithouse door in the wind". The exchange was broadcast at around 9.00am on 25 November 1999.
K E Broad complained to The RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the language used was offensive and totally unacceptable, and that children could have heard it because of the time of the broadcast.
The RadioWorks responded that the reference to the woman having "big tits" was "perhaps a little raunchy", but was a slang expression and did not contravene broadcasting standards. As to the second remark, the RadioWorks said that the word "shithouse" was also slang and that this remark did not contravene broadcasting standards either.
Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s decision, K E Broad referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
The members of the Authority have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix and have listened to a tape of the broadcast. On this occasion, the Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
An exchange on The Rock included a conversation between the announcer and an actor portraying a comedy character called Darryl Brock, from Bathurst in Australia. The announcer and Darryl Brock had a conversation about a new woman announcer on The Rock, during which Darryl Brock asked the following questions:
"Does she have big tits?"
"Does she bang like a shithouse door in the wind?"
The exchange was broadcast at around 9.00am on 25 November 1999.
K E Broad complained that the language used was offensive and totally unacceptable, commenting also that the exchange was broadcast at a time children could be expected to be listening.
The RadioWorks assessed the complaint under Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. That principle reads:
In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.
The RadioWorks noted that the guidelines accompanying Principle 1 emphasise the need to bear in mind the context in which the language or behaviour occurs.
In The RadioWorks’ opinion, the remark about "big tits" was a slang expression used in conversation by many sectors of the community, especially those in The Rock’s target audience of 18-39 year old males. While it agreed that the remark was "perhaps a little raunchy", it did not believe Principle 1 was breached.
The RadioWorks did not believe the second remark breached Principle 1 either. It believed that the complainant’s objection related to the use of the word "shithouse", which it said was also a slang term used in many sectors of the community in everyday conversation.
Unhappy with the decision of The RadioWorks, K E Broad referred the complaint to the Authority, saying:
I feel the language used at the time of day it was used or indeed at any time is totally unacceptable to any age group.
In its report to the Authority, the broadcaster noted that the character "Darryl Brock" had been a regular part of The Rock’s morning programme for four years. It explained that the character was portrayed as:
a typical Aussie outback character who has a language, and more importantly, expressions that are part and parcel of Australian outback life.
The RadioWorks then repeated its view that the two expressions complained about were essentially slang terms used in everyday conversation by many sectors of the community. It apologised to the complainant for any discomfort caused by the broadcast.
In assessing the complaints under Principle 1, the Authority has to test the comments complained about against current community standards of good taste and decency. In doing so, it is required to bear in mind the context in which the comments were made.
The RadioWorks informed the Authority that the woman announcer at whom the comments complained about were directed was fictional. The Authority considers this to be a contextual factor highly relevant to its decision. It also bears in mind that Darryl Brock is intended to be a stereotypical comedy character, and as such the performer was speaking within the context of a comedy role. The Authority considers the Rock’s target audience and the fact that the broadcast was made during school hours are also relevant contextual factors on this occasion.
The RadioWorks described the expressions complained about as "slang", especially in the context of The Rock’s target audience of 15 to 39 year old males. The Authority observes that the language complained about was very informal and could be described as "locker room talk". In that sense it fits The RadioWorks’ description as "slang". However, it records that this alone is insufficient to save a broadcast which contains unacceptable language.
The Authority also notes that The RadioWorks limited its assessment of the second expression to the word "shithouse" in isolation. In the Authority’s view, the phrase complained about requires consideration in its totality, as it described a woman’s sexual conduct, and implied that she was promiscuous.
On balance, the Authority concludes that the language which was complained about did not transgress the good taste and decency standard because of its stereotypical nature and comedic intent.
In relation to the aspect of the complaint concerning the broadcast’s effect on children, the Authority finds that this standard is not breached as the exchange was broadcast on a school day during school time.
For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
2 March 2000
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. K E Broad’s Complaint to The RadioWorks – 25 November 1999
2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 3 December 1999
3. K E Broad’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 22 December 1999
4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Authority – 7 January 2000