Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Newstalk ZB – host interviewed a representative from MetService about weather predictions made by NIWA – host commented “Do those people at NIWA, do they read your forecasts, or have they got their heads so far up their backsides they don’t take any notice of anyone else?” – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency and responsible programming
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – host’s comment colloquial – would not have caused offence or distress to listeners – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 A talkback programme, broadcast on Newstalk ZB on Friday 24 December 2010 at 7.45am, featured an interview with a representative from MetService about recent weather patterns that had differed from predictions made by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). The host commented, “Do those people at NIWA, do they read your forecasts, or have they got their heads so far up their backsides they don’t take any notice of anyone else?”
 Jim Redhead made a formal complaint to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), the broadcaster, alleging that the host’s comment breached broadcasting standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming, children’s interests and violence.
 TRN assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. Guideline 1a is also relevant. These provide:
Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency
Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.
Broadcasters will take into account current norms of good taste and decency, bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs and the wider context of the broadcast e.g. time of day, target audience.
 TRN said that Newstalk ZB had an adult audience, whom it considered were “well used to colourful colloquialisms” of the type used on this occasion. It said that, by way of explanation, the host was trying to express his belief that NIWA “should be listening more to what the MetService was conveying”. The phrase did not carry “vulgar connotations”, but meant a “blinkered and ignorant view of the matter”, it argued. In the broadcaster’s view, the phrase “head up your backside” was acceptable in the context of the conversation.
 Accordingly, TRN declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 1.
 Dissatisfied with TRN’s response, Mr Redhead referred his complaint to the Authority under Section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The complainant disagreed that Newstalk ZB’s audience consisted solely of adults, noting that the comment was broadcast at 7.45am during children’s normally accepted listening times. He maintained that the use of such “vulgar” language was a breach of broadcasting standards.
 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.
 When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:
 In our view, the host’s comment “...have they got their heads so far up their backsides they don’t take any notice of anyone else?” was not expressed in a nasty or abusive manner. Rather, we agree with TRN that the statement was simply a colloquial expression meaning a “blinkered and ignorant view” regarding NIWA’s attitude towards predictions made by MetService. We consider that the language, though coarse and, according to some people, vulgar, it was not at a level to justify our intervention.
 We acknowledge that the broadcast was at a time when children might have been listening, but we consider, in light of the above factors, that the comment did not breach standards of good taste and decency. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
3 May 2011
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Jim Redhead’s formal complaint – 24 January 2011
2 TRN’s response to the complaint – 25 January 2011
3 Mr Redhead’s referral to the Authority – 30 January 2011
4 TRN’s response to the Authority – 21 February 2011