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Schwabe and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-026

Members

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

Complainant

  • Paul Schwabe of Auckland

Dated

17th June 2014

Number

2014-026

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


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

During an episode of High Country Rescue, a man with a broken leg expressed his gratitude to a search and rescue team, saying, ‘it would have been a frigging long hopping walk to the hut’. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the word ‘frigging’ was offensive and inappropriate for the timeslot. The complainant has made many complaints about language at the low end on the spectrum of offensiveness, and the Authority’s previous decisions ought to have put him on notice of the likely outcome of this complaint.

Declined to determine: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  During an episode of High Country Rescue, a man with a broken leg expressed his gratitude to Land Search and Rescue workers, saying, ‘I really appreciate your help… it would have been a frigging long hopping walk to the hut.’ The episode was broadcast on TV ONE at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 January 2014.

[2]  Paul Schwabe made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, alleging that the word ‘frigging’ was ‘offensive vulgar slang’ which had ‘no place in a wholesome 7.30pm [programme] intended to be suitable for children’.

[3]  The issue is whether this complaint raises any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination.

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

Does this complaint raise issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination?

[5]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[6]  We have reached the view that it is appropriate to decline to determine Mr Schwabe’s complaint under section 11(a) on the basis it is trivial. The use of the word ‘frigging’ in the context of a reality series about search and rescue workers does not raise any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our consideration. Mr Schwabe has repeatedly complained to this Authority about words at the low end on the spectrum of offensiveness, which we have consistently declined to uphold, or declined to determine.2 Our earlier decisions ought to have put Mr Schwabe on notice of the likely outcome of this complaint.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine 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                 Paul Schwabe’s formal complaint – 20 January 2014

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 25 February 2014

3                 Mr Schwabe’s referral to the Authority – 11 march 2014

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 3 April 2014


1Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)

2For example, Schwabe and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2011-084; Schwabe and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2011-076; Schwabe and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2011-041