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Neal and The Radio Network Ltd - 2014-041

Members

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

Complainant

  • Donna Neal of Auckland

Dated

17th June 2014

Number

2014-041

Channel/Station

Radio Hauraki

Broadcaster

The Radio Network Ltd


Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

On two occasions, the presenters of the Hauraki Breakfast Show made comments about masturbation. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comments were unacceptable for broadcast at a time when children could be listening. The comments were consistent with the expectations of Radio Hauraki’s adult target audience, and would not have unduly surprised or offended regular listeners. Both items were light-hearted and intended to be humorous rather than offensive.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming


Introduction

[1]  In two separate items, the presenters of the Hauraki Breakfast Show made comments about masturbation. The first item was broadcast on 5 March 2014 at 7.34am and the second item was broadcast on 27 March 2014 at 7.50am.

[2]  Donna Neal made formal complaints to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN) about each of the items, alleging that it was not appropriate to air content of this nature at a time when ‘children have a high chance of listening to the radio on the way to school’.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcasts breached the good taste and decency and responsible programming standards in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

Did the programmes breach broadcasting standards?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires broadcasters to be mindful of child listeners and to ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible, taking into account the context in which it is broadcast.

[6]  Ms Neal argued that morning radio programmes should not ‘put parents in this situation’ where they have to educate their children about sex ‘on the way to school’.

[7]  TRN argued that the comments were acceptable in context and would not have surprised the programme’s target adult audience. It provided statistics showing that that Radio Hauraki had no listeners aged between 10 and 17 years during the time slot in which the broadcasts subject to complaint aired.

[8]  The first item contained the following comments:

Host 1:        A little tip: if the power does go out… put on the candles and it’s a good time to
                  get intimate with your partner.

Host 2:       What if you don’t have a partner [name]? Is it a good time to get intimate on
                  your own?

Host 1:        Abso-kiwi-lutely [sic]

Host 2:       …is it a good idea to light candles to do that, or is it better to do it in the dark?

Host 1:        It’s a bit weird to light candles to do it for yourself, but whatever floats your
                  boat.

Host 2:       In this modern age do people need power to make love on their own, for the
                  computer?

Host 1:        No… just go upstairs; go back to the wank bank.

[9]  In assessing an alleged breach of broadcasting standards, context is all important. While the comments were broadcast at a time when children could be listening, Radio Hauraki is targeted at adults and is well-known for its mature humour. We expect that children listening to this radio station would be in the presence of a parent or other adult who could reasonably be expected to monitor their listening and either provide guidance on challenging content, or choose a different station to listen to.

[10]  In our view, the comments in the first item were inexplicit and in the nature of innuendo, which was likely to go over the heads of younger listeners. The comments were delivered in a light-hearted tone and were clearly intended to be humorous rather than offensive.

[11]  The second item consisted of a regular segment called ‘Fact Factor’, where one of the hosts provides three facts on a topic, and the other host decides if the facts are true. On this occasion, the host was asked to provide facts about killer whales. His co-host said, ‘give me sex, give me violence, give me something interesting’. The following exchange took place:

Host 1:        Sea World masturbates their killer whales with cow vaginas.

                  [Pre-recorded: What a great fact, that has the ‘fact factor’]

                   …

Host 2:       Well look, that is a great fact, who would have ever thought?    [laughter] Why
                  cow vaginas? [laughter] Why not killer whale vaginas?

Host 1:        You’re not interested in interesting stuff, you’re just interested in any kind of
                  context that’s sexual.

Host 2:       I’m just a medium for the listeners…

[12]  These comments were, in our view cruder than those in the first item, and had the potential to offend some listeners when broadcast at this time of the morning. However, given they were broadcast on Radio Hauraki which is well-known for its more challenging content and style of humour, and given this was a factual remark which formed part of a regular segment involving bizarre facts, we do not think that most listeners would have been unduly surprised or offended by the comments, or that the broadcaster failed to adequately consider the effect of the content on children during their normally accepted listening times. Again, the overall tenor was light-hearted and humorous, and consistent with expectations of Radio Hauraki.

[13]  For these reasons, 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
17 June 2014

Appendix

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

1                  Donna Neal’s formal complaints – 5  March and 28 March 2014

2                 TRN’s response to the complaints – 14 April 2014

3                 Ms Neal’s referral to the Authority – 18 April 2014

4                 TRN’s response to the referral – 29 April 2014