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Christie and The Radio Network Ltd - 2011-060

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • Mark Christie of Auckland

Dated

8th July 2011

Number

2011-060

Programme

Hauraki Amped

Channel/Station

Radio Hauraki

Broadcaster

The Radio Network Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Hauraki Amped – promotion for the chance to win a trip to Bangkok with reference to the film The Hangover Part II – stated “Hauraki’s going to send you and two mates to get your own hangover in Thailand” – allegedly in breach of standards relating to responsible programming and liquor

Findings
Standard 9 (liquor) – brief reference to getting a “hangover” clearly related to The Hangover Part II film – did not amount to liquor promotion – not upheld

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – comment acceptable in light of target audience – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Broadcast

[1]  Hauraki Amped, broadcast on Radio Hauraki at 11am on Sunday 1 May 2011, included an item promoting the chance to win a trip to Bangkok, the setting for the film The Hangover Part II. During the item a voiceover stated:

Phil, Stu and Alan return for another post-blackout misadventure, only this time they’ve woken up in Bangkok... To celebrate Hauraki’s going to send you and two mates to get your own hangover in Thailand.

[2]  Listeners were informed that full details could be found on Radio Hauraki’s website, and the voiceover stated, “The Hangover II with Hauraki”.

Complaint

[3]  Mark Christie made a formal complaint to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached Standards 8 (responsible programming) and 9 (liquor).

[4]  The complainant argued that the broadcaster’s promotion of the “Hauraki Hangover” competition at a time when children could be listening was irresponsible. He considered that the item advocated liquor consumption and actively promoted the concept that “abuse of liquor” was socially acceptable. In particular, he referred to the statement “Hauraki’s going to send you and two mates to get a hangover in Thailand”, which in his view was a clear indication of the broadcaster’s stance on liquor consumption.

Standards

[5]  The complainant nominated Standards 8 and 9 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. Guideline 8a is also relevant. These provide:

Standard 8 Responsible Programming

Broadcasters should ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible.

Guideline 8a   

Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme content may have on children during their normally accepted listening times.

Standard 9 Liquor

Broadcasters should observe restrictions on the promotion of liquor appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast. Liquor Promotion should be socially responsible and must not encourage consumption by people who are under the legal age to purchase liquor.

Definition

Liquor Promotion comprises:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’)

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[6]  TRN said that the statement “...Hauraki’s going to send you and two mates to get your own hangover in Thailand” played on the promotion theme, which had “clear ties” to the movie The Hangover Part II. As the statement clearly related to the film, the broadcaster considered that it was a legitimate broadcast that did not directly target or encourage liquor consumption by people under the legal purchasing age. Accordingly, it declined to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

[7]  The broadcaster said that Radio Hauraki was targeted at adult males, and considered that the item would have bypassed children because they were at school at 11am (guideline 8a). It declined to uphold a breach of the responsible programming standard.

Referral to the Authority

[8]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Christie referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.The complainant argued that the promotion could not be justified by reference to The Hangover Part II film because he asserted that it was not mentioned in the item. In any event, he said that although it may be acceptable for films to display the “abuse of alcohol” this did not make it acceptable for Radio Hauraki to do so. With regard to the broadcaster’s contention that the item would have bypassed children, he noted that the item was broadcast on a Sunday. The complainant maintained that the promotion was socially irresponsible and that Standards 8 and 9 had been breached.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[9]  TRN accepted that the item was broadcast on a Sunday, but argued that it was nevertheless acceptable in light of the radio station’s target audience. It maintained that there was an obvious “tie” between the promotion and The Hangover Part II, which it said was supported by the inclusion of extracts from the movie, the characters’ names, the mention of a hangover and Bangkok together (the place it was filmed), as well as the reference to the film at the end of the item.

Authority’s Determination

[10]  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.

Standard 11 (liquor)

[11]  Standard 11 requires broadcasters to observe restrictions on the promotion of liquor appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast, and states that liquor promotion should be socially responsible and must not encourage consumption by people who are under the legal age to purchase liquor.

[12]  There is a two-stage test involved in determining whether there has been a breach of Standard 11 (liquor). We must first decide whether the broadcast constituted “liquor promotion” and, if it did, we must then consider whether the liquor promotion was “socially responsible”.

[13]  Looking at the first limb of the test, we note that Standard 11 defines “liquor promotion” as:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’).

[14]  As the first two definitions clearly do not apply, the question becomes whether the broadcast “advocated liquor consumption”. The Authority has previously found that a broadcast amounts to advocacy if it presents liquor consumption in a positive light, particularly excessive liquor consumption.1

[15]  On this occasion, the broadcast stated, “Hauraki’s going to send you and two mates to get your own hangover in Thailand”. While we accept that the term “hangover” describes the physiological effects following excessive alcohol consumption, we consider that on this occasion it was used as a double entendre, which was intended to be understood as a reference to The Hangover Part II. Given Radio Hauraki’s target audience of adult males, and the popularity of the first film, The Hangover, we consider that listeners would have understood that the broadcast was directly related to the new film.

[16]  In these circumstances, we do not consider that the broadcast advocated liquor consumption in a manner that amounted to “liquor promotion” as envisaged by Standard 11. Accordingly, we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

Standard 8 (responsible programming)

[17]  Standard 8 requires broadcasters to ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible. Guideline 8a states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme content may have on children during their normally accepted listening times.

[18]  We accept that the item was broadcast during children’s normally accepted listening times at 11am on a Sunday. However, given that Radio Hauraki has a target audience of adult males and because we do not consider that the promotion advocated liquor consumption, we conclude that the broadcast did not breach the responsible programming standard.

[19]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 8 complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
8 July 2011

Appendix

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

1    Mark Christie’s formal complaint – 1 May 2011

2   TRN’s response to the formal complaint – 5 May 2011

3   Mr Christie’s referral to the Authority – 10 May 2011

4   TRN’s response to the Authority – 17 May 2011


1See, for example, Regional Public Health and Hutt Valley District Health Board and TRN, Decision No. 2007-030; Harrop and CanWest TVWorks, Decision No. 2007-063.