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Durward and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-031

Members

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

Complainant

  • Lois Durward

Dated

15th July 2015

Number

2015-031

Programme

Jono and Ben

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

MediaWorks TV Ltd

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

A promo for Jono and Ben showed a parody of the Biblical event the Last Supper, in which the 'disciples' complained that 'Jesus' brought bread to dinner when 'Simon' and 'Paul' were 'gluten-free'. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the promo was offensive to Christians. Light-hearted satire of religious figures is a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression. This particular skit was not malicious and did not threaten norms of good taste and decency.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  A promo for Jono and Ben showed a parody of the Biblical event the Last Supper, in which the 'disciples' complained that 'Jesus' brought bread to dinner when 'Simon' and 'Paul' were 'gluten-free'.

[2]  Lois Durward complained that the promo was offensive to Christians, especially as it was shown during the week before Easter.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The item was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 31 March 2015. The members of the Authority have viewed 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 (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]  Ms Durward argued that the Last Supper was sacred to Christians and that the promo's treatment of this event was offensive, especially given the timing right before Easter.

[7]  MediaWorks maintained that the promo was a light-hearted attempt at humour that did not carry any malice towards Christians. It said viewers would not have been surprised to see 'a sketch on an important religious event from Easter season', given that Jono and Ben 'relies on topical events and news for much of its material'.

[8]  We understand that a parody of this kind could be upsetting to some viewers, especially given its timing. However, the promo was light-hearted and, if anything, was making fun of modern-day diets more than Christianity. As MediaWorks has noted, Jono and Ben is well-known for this type of humour and for parodying current events. The Authority has previously recognised that satire in relation to religious figures is a valuable component of the right to freedom of expression.3 While there may be situations where satire does offend good taste and decency – for example, where the programme is particularly vicious or vitriolic – this promo did not fall into that category.

[9]  Accordingly we decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
Authority Member
15 July 2015

 

Appendix

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

1      Lois Durward's formal complaint – 10 April 2015
2      MediaWorks' response to the complaint – 8 May 2015
3      Ms Durward's referral to the Authority – 20 May 2015
4      MediaWorks' response to the Authority – 25 May 2015

 

 


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

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

3 For example, Cox and 3 Others and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2006-012