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Grimshaw and New Zealand Media and Entertainment - 2014-136

Members

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

Complainant

  • Bryan Grimshaw of Christchurch

Dated

5th February 2015

Number

2014-136

Channel/Station

Radio Hauraki

Broadcaster

New Zealand Media and Entertainment

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

During the Hauraki Breakfast Show, the hosts made comments about two weather presenters, describing one as having 'charm pissing from every pore' and another as having 'a great rack'. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comments breached standards of good taste and decency. The discussion was consistent with the style of content and humour regularly broadcast on Radio Hauraki and would not have unduly surprised or offended the station's target audience.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  During the Hauraki Breakfast Show, the hosts discussed weather presenter Jim Hickey's retirement. One of the hosts described Mr Hickey as having 'charm pissing from every pore'. The hosts were less complimentary about the female weather presenter taking over from Mr Hickey, but commented that she had 'a great rack, though'.

[2]  Bryan Grimshaw complained that the two phrases were 'offensive and out of order'.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The segment aired before the 8am news on Friday 24 October 2014 on Radio Hauraki. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast 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 (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 Grimshaw argued that 'the deterioration of language standards on radio is not to be commended' and said he did not want 'children to pick up on references made [about] women in this way'.

[7]  NZME. said that in the context of its adult target audience and the fact that the show is 'known for pushing the boundaries of acceptability', the broadcast did not breach Standard 1 and was 'in keeping with the tone' of the programme. It considered the word 'rack' was on the tamer end of the spectrum of offensive words.

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

  • the comments were made just before 8am on a weekday, when children could be listening
  • Radio Hauraki's target audience of 18- to 39-year-olds
  • audience expectations of Radio Hauraki and these particular hosts
  • audience expectations of breakfast radio shows, well-known for their humour and banter.

[9]  We are of the view that the hosts' colloquial and irreverent dialogue in this instance was consistent with the well-known style of content and humour regularly broadcast on Radio Hauraki and would not have been unduly surprising or offensive to its adult target audience or to regular listeners of the station. Research conducted by the Authority indicates that only 14 percent of people surveyed considered the word 'piss' totally unacceptable in all scenarios.3

[10]  In addition to the choice of language, Mr Grimshaw was also concerned that the reference to the female weather presenter's 'rack' was demeaning to women and that the radio station should not be encouraging children to adopt these kinds of references. While the comments were broadcast just before 8am at a time when children could be listening, the station is not targeted at children, but at adults aged between 18 and 39. Again, given the station's reputation and target audience we do not think this remark strayed beyond the expectations of regular listeners. The comment was offhand, was not dwelt on, was not accompanied by any other demeaning remarks about women generally and was peripheral to the focus of the conversation, which was Jim Hickey's retirement.

[11]  Overall, and taking into account Radio Hauraki's freedom of expression and listeners' autonomy when it comes to choosing a radio station, we are satisfied that the comments did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency when taken in context. 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
5 February 2015

 

Appendix

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

1      Bryan Grimshaw's formal complaint – 24 October 2014
2      Radio Hauraki's informal response to the complaint – 3 November 2014
3      NZME.'s formal response to the complaint – 5 November 2014
4      Mr Grimshaw's referral to the Authority – 4 November 2014
5      Mr Grimshaw's final comments – 28 November 2014
6      NZME.'s response to the Authority – 1 December 2014

 

 


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

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

3 What Not to Swear: The Acceptability of Words in Broadcasting (Broadcasting Standards Authority, 2013) at page 17