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Kidd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-145

Members

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

Complainant

  • Alan Kidd of Wellington

Dated

28th February 2012

Number

2011-145

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Rugby World Cup Semi-Final: France v Wales – commentator used the word “Jesus” with reference to Wales being given a penalty kick – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency and law and order

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – “Jesus” used as exclamation and spontaneous reaction during a live sports programme – not used in derogatory or abusive manner – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 2 (law and order) – broadcast did not encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  During the Rugby World Cup Semi-Final between France and Wales, broadcast on TV One at 8.30pm on 15 October 2011, replay footage of an action which led to Wales being given a penalty kick was accompanied by the following commentary:

Commentator 1:      Let’s have a look here... so he takes the space through it, he hasn’t
                             been allowed to play it...

Commentator 2:    Jesus!

Commentator 1:    ...double take, I mean his responsibility is to let it go, still also the
                             responsibility of the defensive player is to come through the gate as it’s
                             called – so he has to come straight through from in-behind.

[2]  Alan Kidd made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the commentator’s use of the name “Jesus” was “blasphemous” and “offensive” and breached standards relating to good taste and decency and law and order.

[3]  The issue is whether the commentator’s use of the word “Jesus” breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 2 (law and order) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[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 item threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  Standard 1 is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence. The Authority has consistently recognised that the use of the word “Jesus” for the purpose of expressing irritation, dismay or surprise, in our modern secular society, does not amount to “coarse language” and is not likely to offend or distress the majority of viewers, as it has come to be considered by many people to be part of everyday colloquial speech.1

[6]  In this instance, the commentator used “Jesus” as an exclamation and spontaneous reaction during a live sports programme broadcast at 10.30pm. It was used casually, as opposed to being derogatory or abusive. 

[7]  Taking into account relevant contextual factors, in particular the nature of the programme and the time of broadcast, we are satisfied that the comment did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency. We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

Did the item encourage viewers to break the law or promote criminal activity?

[8]  In his original complaint, Mr Kidd described the commentator’s use of the word “Jesus” as “blasphemous”, and stated, “If not against the law, then it is certainly offensive to practising Christians.”

[9]  The Authority has stated on a number of occasions that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage the audience to break the law or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity (e.g. Blue and TVNZ2). The use of language considered blasphemous is not a crime in New Zealand, and we therefore find that the complainant’s concerns do not raise any issues under this standard.

[10]  Accordingly, we are satisfied that the programme did not encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone illegal behaviour. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 2.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
28 February 2012

Appendix

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

1                  Alan Kidd’s formal complaint – 16 October 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 15 November 2011

3                 Mr Kidd’s referral to the Authority – 15 November 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 29 November 2011


1See for example, Collier and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-123

2Decision No. 2011-045