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Narayan and Humm FM - 2014-119

Members

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

Complainant

  • Jaswin Narayan of Auckland

Dated

5th February 2015

Number

2014-119

Programme

Humm FM 106.2

Channel/Station

Humm FM 106.2

Broadcaster

Humm FM

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

The song 'Anaconda' by Nicki Minaj was broadcast on Humm FM 106.2, a Hindi radio station, at 3.30pm on a weekday. The Authority upheld the complaint that the broadcast of the song, which contained swearing and sexually explicit language, at this time of day, on this station, would be unexpected and offensive to most listeners.

Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming

No Order


Introduction

[1]  Humm FM 106.2, a radio station broadcast primarily in Hindi, featured a song (in English) called 'Anaconda' by American rapper Nicki Minaj. It contained swearing and sexually explicit language and was broadcast at about 3.30pm on a Friday.

[2]  Jaswin Narayan complained that the song was 'loaded' with 'sexual content and language' that was 'completely inappropriate' for broadcast during the day. He said his four-year-old daughter was listening and asked him 'what some of the words meant' which he found 'extremely distressing, embarrassing and awkward'.

[3]  Mr Narayan did not explicitly raise any broadcasting standards in his complaint and we have therefore assessed it against the standards we consider are most relevant to his concerns.

[4]  The issue therefore is whether the broadcast of the song breached the good taste and decency and responsible programming standards, as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  The song was broadcast on 5 September 2014. The members of the Authority have listened to the song and have read the correspondence in the Appendix.

Did the broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[6]  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

[7]  When we consider an alleged breach of Standard 1, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes the time of broadcast, that the song aired on an Indian access radio station which primarily broadcasts in Hindi, the radio station's target audience and audience expectations of content broadcast on Humm FM at this time of day.

[8]  The song contained numerous and repeated expletives, including 'bitch(es)', 'shit', 'fuck', 'motherfucker', 'nigger' and 'ass'. It also contained explicit sexual language such as 'dick bigger than a tower' and 'pussy put his ass to sleep'. This language was vulgar and overtly sexualised. In our view, the broadcast of these lyrics would have been unexpected and offensive to many listeners. Research conducted by the Authority indicates that 77 percent of people surveyed considered 'nigger' fairly or totally unacceptable, 68 percent considered 'fuck' unacceptable, and 40 percent considered 'bitch' unacceptable, in the context of a song played on the radio.3

[9]  The time of broadcast at about 3.30pm was inappropriate because children were likely to be listening. While there are no classified time-bands on radio as there are on free-to-air television, radio stations should be mindful of children's normally accepted listening times, for example before and after school.

[10]  We do not think that regular listeners would expect to hear this type of language broadcast in English at this time of day, on this radio station. Irrespective of the content's source, it is the broadcaster's responsibility to ensure that broadcast material complies with the Code. Humm FM itself has acknowledged the inappropriateness of the song and removed it from its playlist.

[11]  Accordingly, we find that the swearing and explicit sexual references in the song would have offended most listeners of Humm FM and were inconsistent with current norms of good taste and decency. We uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

Did the broadcast breach the responsible programming standard?

[12]  The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires broadcasters to ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible. Guideline 8a says that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme content may have on children during their normally accepted listening times.

[13]  As noted above, the Radio Code does not divide the day into classified time-bands but radio stations must nevertheless consider the suitability of content broadcast at times when children could reasonably be expected to be listening. We find that the broadcaster did not adequately consider the interests of children, when broadcasting a song which contained swearing and explicit sexual lyrics at 3.30pm.

[14]  Accordingly, we uphold the responsible programming complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by Humm FM of the song 'Anaconda' on 5 September 2014 breached Standard 1 and Standard 8 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[15]  Having upheld the complaint, we may make orders under sections 13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. We do not intend to do so on this occasion. Our decision makes our expectations clear surrounding the broadcast of offensive language and sexual content during times when children could be listening. This is the first complaint against Humm FM that we have received. The broadcaster has acknowledged the complaint and the breach, and taken steps to redress it by removing the song from its playlist.

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     Jaswin Narayan's complaint emails – 10 and 11 September 2014
2     Humm FM's response to the complaint – 17 September 2014
3     Mr Narayan's referral to the Authority – 23 September 2014
4     Humm FM's response to the Authority – 17 October 2014
5     Mr Narayan's final comment – 25 November 2014

 


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

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

3What Not to Swear: The Acceptability of Words in Broadcasting (Broadcasting Standards Authority, 2013) at page 19