An item on 3 News: Firstline reported on the Westminster Dog Show. In response to a question whether there was a Pit Bull division in the competition, one of the presenters commented, ‘I highly doubt it. Imagine what their owners would look like.’ The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comment was highly offensive to, and denigrated, Pit Bull owners. Pit Bull owners are not a section of the community, and the comment was clearly an off-the-cuff, light-hearted joke delivered without invective.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration
 3 News: Firstline contained a pre-recorded item on the Westminster Dog Show, broadcast on 12 February 2014 on TV3. Following the item, the presenters commented:
Presenter 1: Do you think they have a Pit Bull division to these competitions?
Presenter 2: I highly doubt it. Imagine what their owners would look like.
 Karen Batchelor made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, alleging that the presenter’s comment, ‘Imagine what their owners would look like’ was ‘highly offensive to the many respected people around the world who own and show their American Pit Bull Terriers and other bull breeds’. She considered the comment demonstrated ‘profound ignorance and bigotry’.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the discrimination and denigration standard as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 The discrimination and denigration standard (Standard 7) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, sections of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of a legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.
 ‘Pit Bull owners’ are not a section of the community as envisaged by the standard, so it is not applicable to this complaint. In any event, the comment was clearly an off-the-cuff, light-hearted joke and delivered without invective, so it did not encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, all owners of Pit Bulls.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
17 June 2014
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Karen Batchelor’s formal complaint – 12 February 2014
2 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 13 March 2014
3 Ms Batchelor’s referral to the Authority – 17 March 2014
4 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 10 April 2014