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Lloyd and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2015-033

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose

Complainant

  • Adam Lloyd

Dated

25th August 2015

Number

2015-033

Programme

Voice of Islam

Channel/Station

SKY Television

Broadcaster

SKY Network Television Ltd

Summary

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

Voice of Islam broadcast a speech by a prominent Muslim speaker, in which she discussed the teachings of Islam. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the programme amounted to 'hate speech' and incited violence. The speech clearly comprised the speaker's own interpretation of the teachings of the Qur'an, and did not contain anything which threatened broadcasting standards.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children, Law and Order, Fairness, Accuracy

 


Introduction

[1] Voice of Islam broadcast a speech by a prominent Muslim speaker, in which she discussed the teachings of Islam.

[2] Adam Lloyd complained that that programme amounted to 'hate speech' and 'incite[d] violence towards unbelievers'.

[3] The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency, children, law and order, fairness and accuracy standards of the Pay Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4] The programme aired on FACE TV at 9am on 1 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 programme breach broadcasting standards?

[5] Mr Lloyd argued that the broadcast was in the vein of the 'fundamentalist Wahabi form of Islam which is fuelling the Islamic State'. He considered this to be 'hate speech' which was inciting violence. He submitted that the speaker 'demand[ed] that we believe that Allah has decreed that bloodshed is inevitable, that people who have same-sex relationships are not halal, and that anyone who lives a life which is not halal is disgusting and literally worse than an animal'. He equated these teachings to Nazism and said that the content fell 'outside the boundaries of normal freedom of expression and should not be tolerated in New Zealand'. For these reasons he believed the programme breached the good taste and decency, children, law and order, fairness and accuracy standards.

[6] SKY argued that the speaker did not say that 'Allah has decreed that bloodshed is inevitable'. It said she did not single out any sexual orientation for criticism, but chided all humans who 'do what they feel'. It submitted that the programme was not outside audience expectations of FACE TV, which broadcasts a range of religious commentary. SKY rejected Mr Lloyd's argument that the content amounted to hate speech and said that the speaker 'outlined her beliefs in a way that is consistent' with freedom of expression. Overall, it did not consider that any broadcasting standards were breached.

[7] In our view, many of Mr Lloyd's arguments seem to be more about the broadcaster's editorial decision to feature Muslim teachings rather than about the particular content of this programme. Accordingly we have summarised our general findings in relation to the programme as a whole, and then briefly addressed each of the standards he raised in his complaint at paragraph [13].

[8] Mr Lloyd's primary concern is that the broadcast amounted to 'hate speech' which incited violence. This is a concept that we usually consider in relation to a complaint that a programme has encouraged discrimination against, or denigration of, a particular section of society.1

[9] Generally, religious expression is a valuable and legitimate exercise of the right to free speech, so long as it adheres to broadcasting standards. It is also recognised that religious programming largely comprises opinion and that reasonable viewers are able to form their own views about the ideas put forward. With these things in mind, a high level of invective, and usually an element of malice or vitriol, is required to reach the threshold for finding a broadcast amounted to 'hate speech'. For example, the Authority has previously upheld complaints about a programme which advocated death for homosexuals,2 and about a radio host's comments that members of a particular religious group were 'mad', 'ignorant', 'very bad neighbours', 'not normal', 'probably guilty of child abuse' and should be bred out of the human race.3

[10] Having viewed the programme in its entirety, we are satisfied that it was not in the same category, and did not amount to hate speech which incited violence against non-Muslims. The programme was clearly presented from the perspective of the speaker, who offered her personal interpretation of the teachings of the Qur'an. The tone of the broadcast was not extremist or vitriolic; overall, she encouraged the audience to seek happiness in spirituality rather than physical pleasures. She did not call for bloodshed as the complainant alleged. She said:

Yes there will be struggle, and yes there will be some spilling of blood, and yes there will be some spreading of mischief. But Allah has given us the secret of how to survive, and so that we don't have to be afraid or fall into despair.

[11] The speaker's only reference to same-sex relationships was as follows:

This idea that happiness is in physical pleasure, or happiness is in money, or happiness is in status – that's not happiness. That's the happiness of cattle. Because what does an animal need to be happy? The only thing an animal needs to be happy is to be fed and to have its physical needs of all different types satisfied.

...Animal has an urge, animal follows urge... I'm attracted to you, doesn't matter if I'm married to you, doesn't matter if you're the same gender. When a human being acts that way then we become lower than the animals because an animal doesn't have the ability to look at morality, whereas we do...You have the potential to be better than the angels, but you also have the potential to be lower than the animals.

[12] This also did not reach the level of hate speech and would not have been unduly surprising or beyond audience expectations, given the nature of the programme and the channel. FACE TV describes itself as screening 'a schedule of locally produced and internationally sourced culturally diverse content' and says it is 'niche, targeted television at its best'.4 As we have said, we place high value on the right to freedom of expression, which includes both the broadcaster's right to screen a variety of programme content, and viewers' right to receive information and view the programmes they choose. If viewers do not agree with the ideology being discussed in a particular programme, they are able to make a different viewing choice.

[13] In summary, we consider the standards raised by Mr Lloyd were either not applicable or not breached because:

  •  The broadcast did not contain any language, sexual material, nudity, violence or other material that was likely to offend the general audience when taken in context (Standard P2 – Good Taste and Decency);
  •  The broadcast was not targeted at children and did not contain anything likely to disturb or alarm them (Standard P3 – Children);
  •  The broadcast did not encourage listeners to break the law or promote or condone criminal activity (Standard P5 – Law and Order);
  •  The broadcast was not unfair to any individual or organisation and did not encourage discrimination against, or the denigration of, any section of the community (Standard P7 – Fairness); and
  •  The broadcast was clearly opinion to which the accuracy standard did not apply (Standard P8 – Accuracy).

[14] Accordingly, we 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
25 August 2015

 

Appendix

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

1      Adam Lloyd's formal complaint – 26 March 2015

2      SKY's response to the complaint – 11 May 2015

3      Mr Lloyd's referral to the Authority – 26 May 2015

4      SKY's confirmation of no further comment – 25 June 2015

 


See guideline 7(d) of the fairness standard in the Clayton and Triangle Television Ltd and Standard 7 (Discrimination and Denigration) in the Free-to-Air Television Code

2Clayton and Triangle Television Ltd, Decision No. 2004-001

3 Simmons and Others and CanWest RadioWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2004-193

4 http://facetv.co.nz/