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Barratt-Boyes and The Radio Network Ltd - 2014-043

Members

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

Complainant

  • Kristina Barratt-Boyes of Auckland

Dated

15th July 2014

Number

2014-043

Channel/Station

Classic Hits

Broadcaster

The Radio Network Ltd


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

During the Classic Hits Breakfast Show the hosts played an audio clip from an American talk show, of a celebrity discussing his sex life before he got married. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards of good taste and decency, taking into account the context, including the station’s target audience of 35 to 54-year-olds, and that the content was consistent with audience expectations of breakfast radio shows.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  During the Classic Hits Breakfast Show the hosts played an audio clip from an American talk show, of a celebrity discussing his sex life before he got married. The item aired at 8.10am on Friday 4 April 2014.

[2]  Kristina Barratt-Boyes made a formal complaint to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), alleging that the content was ‘smutty trash’ and ‘not suitable for the breakfast hour when kids are still at home’.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard of 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 broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2

[6]  Ms Barratt-Boyes argued that the audio clip was ‘inappropriate content for that time of the morning’. She considered that ‘debauched gossip news’ should be broadcast during the evenings ‘when children are in bed’ as she ‘should not have to field questions from [her] four-year-old during breakfast time about what having sex with lots of people means’.

[7]  TRN argued that talking about sex did not in itself ‘necessarily breach’ broadcasting standards and in this item the audio clip and comment were ‘reasonably mild’. It considered that in the context of its adult target audience and audience expectations, listeners would not have been ‘too surprised’ by the discussion as gossip segments ‘regularly contain salacious content’.

[8]  When we consider a complaint about good taste and decency, context is all important. The contextual factors here include:

  • Classic Hits’ target audience of adults aged 35 to 54
  • audience expectations of Classic Hits and of radio breakfast shows
  • the segment was broadcast at 8.10am when children could be listening
  • the discussion was part of a regular gossip segment.

[9]  In our view, this was standard fare for a typical breakfast radio show, and most regular listeners would not have been unduly surprised or offended by the subject matter. Morning shows on radio are well-known for containing a mixture of content, including news and topics of the day, magazine-style segments, gossip and ‘tabloid’ segments, and light-hearted banter and humour by the hosts. We understand that this gossip feature is a regular segment on the show. While we accept that children may have been listening, the clip and the comments were, in our view, relatively brief and inexplicit. Taking into account the target audience of adults aged 35 to 54, and the other factors listed above, we do not think the content reached the threshold for threatening current norms of good taste and decency.

[10]  We therefore 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
15 July 2014


Appendix

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

1            Kristina Baratt-Boyes’ formal complaint – 4 April 2014

2            TRN’s response to the complaint – 10 April 2014

3            Ms Barratt-Boyes’ referral to the Authority – 29 April 2014

4            TRN’s response to the referral – 1 May 2014


1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)