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Hagger and The Radio Network Ltd - 2014-074

Members

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

Complainant

  • Jonathan Hagger of Rotorua

Dated

21st August 2014

Number

2014-074

Channel/Station

Radio Hauraki

Broadcaster

The Radio Network Ltd


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

Following news of Kim and Mona Dotcom’s marriage breakup, the Hauraki Breakfast Show featured a satirical interview with a sex therapist. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was offensive and in bad taste, and unsuitable for broadcast at 8.35am. The content was typical of Radio Hauraki and would not have unduly surprised or offended regular listeners.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  In the wake of Kim and Mona Dotcom’s marriage break-up, three hosts on the Hauraki Breakfast Show interviewed a ‘sex therapist’ on the issue of what they described as ‘big on small sex’. The ‘sex therapist’ was apparently not a real doctor, but playing the part in a scripted satirical skit. The discussion was broadcast at 8.35am on Radio Hauraki on 19 May 2014.

[2]  Jonathan Hagger made a formal complaint to The Radio Network (TRN) alleging that the segment was offensive and inappropriate, especially at that time of the morning.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out 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 item 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 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]  Mr Hagger complained that the broadcast was in ‘bad taste’ as it ‘specifically discussed interracial sex, issues of weight and size and also named specific people’.

[7]  TRN did not consider that the skit breached standards of good taste and decency, when taken in context. It said Radio Hauraki targets an adult audience aged 18 to 39 and referred to ratings data which allegedly showed that on weekdays between 8.30 and 8.45am only 200 listeners were aged under 18. TRN said the segment was clearly satricial and noted the ‘doctor’ was a character, not a real doctor. The broadcaster considered the skit was ‘trademark comedy’ for the Hauraki Breakfast Show which was known for its ‘edginess and pushing the boundaries of acceptability’.

[8]  When we consider a complaint about good taste and decency or responsible programming, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • Radio Hauraki’s target audience of 18- to 39-year-olds
  • the time of broadcast at 8.35am
  • the skit was satirical and intended as comedy
  • audience expectations of Radio Hauraki and of these particular hosts
  • audience expectations of breakfast radio shows, which are well-known for containing a mixture of content including for example current events, satire, humour and gossip segments.

[9]  We are satisfied that in this context the discussion did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency. Radio Hauraki is well-known for its style, for its sometimes challenging content, and for occasionally pushing the boundaries. This segment was in our view consistent with audience expectations of Radio Hauraki, and of breakfast radio. It was intended to be humorous – and we expect a lot of Hauraki’s regular listeners would have interpreted it that way. While children may have been listening at this time of the morning, Radio Hauraki is not targeted at children, and we think a lot of the content would have gone over the heads of younger listeners. While there were references to ‘sex’, and one mention of ‘a smaller Asian woman and a larger European man’, the segment was matter-of-fact in tone, indicating the dry style of humour employed, and largely inexplicit or in the nature of innuendo. For example, the ‘sex therapist’ commented:

  • ‘in my experience, the issues are usually positional…’
  • ‘if you work on a technique that allows the couple to connect, it’s viable’
  • ‘there are also available many machines, certain equipment that can help facilitate these acts’
  • ‘[there are] very high-tech, very clever devices that are designed to help couples come together’
  • ‘it’s a matter of individual taste, and techniques can help’.

[10]  Overall, we do not consider that the segment was sufficiently graphic or offensive to threaten current norms of good taste and decency, taking into account the contextual factors outlined above. 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
21 August 2014

Appendix

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

1            Jonathan Hagger’s formal complaint – 19 May 2014

2            TRN’s response to the complaint – 5 June 2014

3            Mr Hagger’s referral to the Authority – 17 June 2014

4            TRN’s response to the Authority – 20 June 2014


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

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