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Foster and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2014-072

Members

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

Complainant

  • Colin Foster of Christchurch

Dated

21st August 2014

Number

2014-072

Programme

MORE FM Breakfast

Channel/Station

More FM

Broadcaster

MediaWorks Radio Ltd


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

In a ‘Showbiz news’ segment on MORE FM Breakfast, a joke was made about the marriage breakup of Kim Dotcom and his wife. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the joke breached standards of good taste and decency. It was light-hearted and humorous and typical of breakfast radio, and the Dotcoms could reasonably expect some coverage of their breakup.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  In the ‘Showbiz news’ segment on MORE FM Breakfast, one of the hosts made a joke about the marriage breakup of Kim Dotcom and his wife. The comments were broadcast on MORE FM on 19 May 2014 at 7.30am.

[2]  Colin Foster made a formal complaint to MediaWorks Radio Ltd (MediaWorks), arguing that the comments were inappropriate for a public media platform.

[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 standards of good taste and decency?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.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 Foster’s concern was that it was inappropriate for the host to make light of the breakup, particularly as, while Kim Dotcom was a high profile public figure, his wife was not, and she should not have to be subject to this kind of public comment in relation to her private life.

[7]  MediaWorks considered the joke was acceptable for broadcast during the breakfast show. It said the Dotcoms were a couple who sought publicity and attention, the joke did not contain any ‘strong language or concepts appropriate to an adults only audience’, and it was not intended to be malicious or offensive.

[8]  The comment subject to complaint was as follows:

…and finally, speaking of affairs… it was with sadness that I found out that Kim Dotcom had split up from his wife, Mona Dotcom at the weekend, which is very sad. Kim Dotcom and Mona Dotcom have split up which I reckon is very sad. So anyway she’s now decided she’s going to go by her maiden name, she’ll be now on referred to as ‘Mona Dot Co Dot NZ’.

[6]  Laughing, the host went on to say, ‘it’s 7.30, and that’s one thing we don’t do here is make jokes about that sort of stuff’.

[9]  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:

  • MORE FM’s adult target audience
  • expectations of regular listeners of MORE FM and of the particular hosts
  • audience expectations of breakfast radio shows, which are well-known for containing a mixture of content including current events, humour and gossip segments
  • the comments were clearly intended as a joke and were light-hearted
  • the host immediately tempered his joke to some extent by acknowledging he should not joke about ‘that sort of stuff’, namely marriage breakups
  • the Dotcoms are a high profile public couple who routinely attract, and could reasonably expect, media attention.

[10]  We agree with the broadcaster that the host was clearly intending to be humorous, rather than being offensive or unfairly drawing attention to the Dotcoms’ breakup. As the former wife of a high profile public figure, Mona could reasonably expect some media attention following their breakup. This was a light-heated, innocuous joke, which was consistent with audience expectations of breakfast radio.

[11]  We are satisfied that the joke did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency and would not have unduly surprised or offended most listeners. 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            Colin Foster’s formal complaint – 19 May 2014

2            MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 16 June 2014

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

4            MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 19 June 2014

5            Mr Foster’s final comment – 20 June 2014



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

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