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Bennett and RadioWorks Ltd - 2011-119

Members

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

Complainant

  • Paul Bennett of Wairarapa

Dated

22nd November 2011

Number

2011-119

Programme

More FM

Channel/Station

More FM

Broadcaster

RadioWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
More FM – host discussed “tweet” on social networking website Twitter by rapper Lil Wayne – host said, “His tweet was quite interesting. He said, ‘I busted my fuggin’ head at skate park’” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – host clearly said “fuggin’” – “fuggin’” not offensive in its own right – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Introduction

[1]  At approximately 5.30pm on More FM on 23 August 2011, the radio host was discussing interesting “tweets” by celebrities on the social networking website Twitter. He said:

Lil Wayne, he fell off his skateboard, smashed him in the face, he got nine stitches. His tweet was quite interesting. He said, “I busted my fuggin’ head at skate park” – all spelled in text speak – and then he signed it, “Love the people”.

[2]  Paul Bennett complained to RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the presenter used the word “fucking” at a time when children could be listening, in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, and children’s interests. We note that the Radio Code does not have a separate standard for children’s interests; there is only a guideline under Standard 8 (responsible programming). As Mr Bennett raised only good taste and decency in his referral, we have limited our determination to Standard 1 (good taste and decency).

[3]  The issue therefore is whether the broadcast of the word “fuggin’” at 5.30pm breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency) of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. Standard 1 states that broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

[4]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the host’s comment breach standards of good taste and decency?

[5]  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:

  • the comment was broadcast on More FM
  • it was broadcast at 5.30pm during children’s listening times
  • the radio station’s target audience
  • expectations of regular listeners.

[6]  In our view, the radio host clearly said “fuggin’”, and did not use the expletive “fucking” as alleged by the complainant. His use of the word was matter-of-fact and innocuous, in the context of a discussion about a celebrity’s “tweet” on the social networking website Twitter. We do not consider that the term “fuggin’” in itself would have offended most listeners.

[7]  Accordingly, taking into account the above contextual factors, we find that the host’s comment did not breach Standard 1 and 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

 

Peter Radich
Chair
22 November 2011

Appendix

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

1                 Paul Bennett’s formal complaint – 23 August 2011

2                 RadioWorks’ response to the complaint – 25 August 2011

3                 Mr Bennett’s referral to the Authority – 8 September 2011

4                 RadioWorks’ responses to the Authority – 7 and 11 October 2011