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Dickson and New Zealand Media and Entertainment - 2016-047 (22 August 2016)

Members

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

Complainant

  • Andy Dickson

Dated

22nd August 2016

Number

2016-047

Programme

The Sauce

Channel/Station

Radio Sport

Broadcaster

New Zealand Media and Entertainment

Summary

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

A regular comedy skit on Radio Sport show The Sauce involved a host impersonating All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and giving ‘top tips’ on various topics. In the segment complained about, the host, mimicking Mr Hansen, addressed the topic of ‘sackings’, stating: ‘...Simply whip your scrot [scrotum] out and just rest it casually on their thigh, buttocks or forehead.’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment made light of, and condoned, sexual assault. The Authority found that, in the context of the skit, which was a regular comedy skit broadcast weekly on The Sauce, the segment did not make light of, or encourage listeners to laugh about, sexual assault. Due to its over-the-top, satirical nature, and taking into account audience expectations of Radio Sport and of the segment, listeners would not take the skit seriously or think that the type of behaviour described in the skit was acceptable.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  A regular comedy skit on Radio Sport show The Sauce involved a host impersonating All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and giving ‘top tips’ on various topics. In the segment complained about, the host, mimicking Mr Hansen, addressed the topic of ‘sackings’, stating:

In my role over the years I’ve certainly administered a few sackings... Sometimes a bloke doesn’t see it coming... he’s either sleeping or soaping himself up in a steamy shower. Simply whip your scrot [scrotum] out and just rest it casually on their thigh, buttocks or forehead. It’s a wonderful joke and a massive turn-on. Best thing about it is no one complains – they’ve bought into the fact that it’s all about team-building and part of the squad culture...

[2]  Andy Dickson complained that the segment made light of, and condoned, sexual assault, particularly the kind of locker-room behaviour that occurred ‘under the guise of team bonding’. Mr Dickson considered that the segment promoted this kind of sexual assault ‘as something to have a laugh about’, meaning victims would feel unable to speak out.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.1

[4]  The item was broadcast at 4.30pm on Radio Sport on 24 May 2016. The members of the Authority have listened to 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 purpose of the good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is to protect audience members from viewing broadcasts that are likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. In a radio context, this standard is usually considered in relation to offensive language, sexual references or references to violence, but may also apply to other material presented in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.

[6]  NZME did not consider the behaviour described in the segment was unacceptably gratuitous or that regular listeners would find this particular segment to be inconsistent or ‘out of character’ with the regular ‘Hansen’ skit or the radio station generally. NZME noted that Radio Sport is an AM radio station with a target audience of males aged 35 to 54, and that children were unlikely to be listening.

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

  • the time of broadcast at 4.30pm on a weekday, during children’s normally accepted listening times
  • Radio Sport is an AM frequency radio station targeted at men aged 35 to 54
  • the ‘Hansen’ skit is broadcast weekly on The Sauce
  • the satirical nature of the programme and the ‘Hansen’ skit in particular
  • audience expectations of the ‘Hansen’ skit, The Sauce and Radio Sport generally.

[8]  The ‘Hansen’ comedy skit parodies Steve Hansen and his views on topics of interest to Radio Sport listeners, taking advantage of listeners’ knowledge of Mr Hansen and his style. Regular listeners are likely to be familiar with the provocative and irreverent style of both The Sauce and the ‘Hansen’ skit. While the content of this particular instalment may not have appealed to everybody, we think it was consistent with audience expectations of the segment, The Sauce and Radio Sport generally.

[9]  In this context, we do not think the audience would have interpreted the segment as making light of, or encouraging listeners to laugh about or to condone, sexual assault. Rather, it parodied locker-room behaviour, it was intended to be humorous, and it was intended to appeal to the station’s target audience. Due to the over-the-top, satirical nature of the segment, listeners would not take the skit seriously or think that the type of behaviour described in the skit was acceptable.

[10]  Humour and satire are important aspects of the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, on which society places value. We do not think this broadcast overall threatened current norms of good taste and decency, at a level that requires us to intervene and restrict that right.

[11]  We therefore do not uphold the complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich

Chair

22 August 2016

 

Appendix

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

1      Andy Dickson’s formal complaint – 25 May 2016

2      NZME’s response to the complaint – 9 June 2016

3      Mr Dickson’s referral to the Authority – 14 June 2016

4      NZME’s confirmation of no further comment – 21 June 2016


This complaint was determined under the new Radio Code, which took effect on 1 April 2016 and applies to any programmes broadcast on or after that date: http://bsa.govt.nz/standards/overview