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Parlane and New Zealand Media and Entertainment - 2016-007 (14 April 2016)

Members

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

Complainant

  • James Parlane

Dated

14th April 2016

Number

2016-007

Programme

Coast FM News

Channel/Station

Coast

Broadcaster

New Zealand Media and Entertainment

Summary

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

An item on Coast FM News reported that a medical document had been found suggesting there was ‘some truth in the old fable’ about Adolf Hitler having only one testicle. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that the item was distasteful. Taking into account contextual factors such as the adult target audience of Coast FM and that the item was a brief and straightforward report, the broadcast did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  An item on Coast FM News reported that a medical document had been found suggesting there was ‘some truth in the old fable’ about Adolf Hitler having only one testicle.

[2]  James Parlane complained that the item was ‘not reported tastefully enough’ and that listeners ‘do not want to hear about Hitler having only one small ball’.

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

[4]  The item was broadcast on Coast FM at approximately 12pm on Sunday 20 December 2015. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Jurisdictional matter

[5]  Following his referral to the Authority, Mr Parlane contended that the complaint ‘also extend[ed] to the entire network of NZME as the same bulletin will have been broadcast over about 40 to 50 stations in total’. However, our jurisdiction covers only the broadcast specified in Mr Parlane’s original complaint and additional matters are not able to be raised once a complaint has been referred to this Authority. Mr Parlane’s original complaint mentioned only the Coast FM radio station. Therefore our determination is limited to the Coast FM News item broadcast on 20 December.

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

[6]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) often concerns 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]  Mr Parlane argued that the item was ‘not proper news’, but ‘filth’. He said that NZME ‘must assume that vulnerable people such as children’ are listening. He argued that ‘Hitler’s descendants may have heard [the item]... and felt sick’, and that if such broadcasts were ‘allowed to continue’, NZME would ‘open the floodgates and start talking about every famous person’s testicles’.

[8]  NZME argued that the broadcast was ‘at the tamer end of the spectrum’ and that regular listeners would not have been offended. It said that Coast FM’s target audience was adults aged over 55 and children were unlikely to be listening. It also argued that the matter discussed was ‘of interest and many people will remember the various rumours about Hitler’s testicles’.

[9]  When we consider the good taste and decency standard we take into account the relevant contextual factors, which here include:

  • the item aired as part of a news bulletin
  • the time of broadcast, at noon on a Sunday
  • the adult target audience of Coast FM
  • audience expectations of Coast FM.

[10]  Many of Mr Parlane’s arguments are, in our view, directed at the editorial choice by NZME to feature this particular story, rather than raising issues of broadcasting standards. This news item was a straightforward report on a potentially confirmed rumour about an infamous historical figure. It was not sexualised or titillating, nor a prolonged discussion. Overall, we are satisfied the item would not have offended a significant number of listeners and did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency in this context.

[11]  Therefore the Authority does not uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
14 April 2016

 

Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1      James Parlane’s formal complaint – 24 December 2015
2      Mr Parlane’s further comments on formal complaint – 12 January 2016
3      NZME’s response to the complaint – 20 January 2016
4      Mr Parlane’s referral to the Authority – 21 January 2016
5      NZME’s response to the Authority – 22 January 2016
6      Mr Parlane’s further comments – 10 February 2016
7      NZME’s final comments – 10 February 2016
8      Mr Parlane’s final comments – 18 February 2016

 


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

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