[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A panel segment during Larry Williams Drive discussed a recent High Court action brought by Phillip Smith against the Department of Corrections (Corrections), in which Mr Smith argued that his freedom of expression had been breached by Corrections staff preventing him from wearing his toupee. At the conclusion of the panel discussion, Mr Williams stated: ‘I say Janet, solitary confinement 24/7, dark room, with his toupee, with a little bit of waterboarding just to make it interesting’. The other panellists laughed, with one commenting, ‘You’re a hard man, Larry’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint from Mr Smith that this comment suggested he be subjected to an act of torture, which was in poor taste, and that the comment was likely to incite violence against him. The comment was clearly framed as a hyperbolic exaggeration of Mr Williams’ views for effect, and not a deliberate suggestion that Mr Smith actually be waterboarded. In the context of the broadcast, the Authority considered audiences were unlikely to have taken the comment seriously, and it was unlikely to have encouraged or motivated prisoners to act violently towards Mr Smith.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order
 A panel segment during Larry Williams Drive discussed a recent High Court action brought by Phillip Smith against the Department of Corrections (Corrections), in which Mr Smith argued that his freedom of expression had been breached by Corrections staff preventing him from wearing his toupee. At the conclusion of the panel discussion, Mr Williams stated:
I say Janet, solitary confinement 24/7, dark room, with his toupee, with a little bit of waterboarding just to make it interesting.
 Phillip John Smith complained that Mr Williams’ comment suggested that he should be subjected to an act of torture, which was in poor taste and encouraged violence to be committed against him.
 The issue raised in Mr Smith’s complaint is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and law and order standards as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The item was broadcast at approximately 5.55pm on 16 March 2017 on Newstalk ZB. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
 The purpose of the good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is to protect audience members from listening to 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.
The parties’ submissions
 Mr Smith submitted that:
 NZME submitted that:
 When we make a determination on a complaint alleging a breach of broadcasting standards, we first give consideration to the right to freedom of expression. We weigh the value of the broadcast item, as well as the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, and the audience’s right to receive information, against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast. In this case, Mr Smith has submitted that Mr Williams’ comment, in which he allegedly suggested Mr Smith be subjected to an act of torture, was in poor taste and resulted in the risk of harm to Mr Smith.
 For reasons we expand upon below, we do not consider the alleged potential harm in this case outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
 We acknowledge that Mr Williams’ comment was specific, directed at a particular named individual in New Zealand society, and made light of him being subjected to waterboarding. We agree with NZME that Mr Williams’ views regarding Mr Smith and the outcome of his court case could have been expressed differently.
 However, we do not consider that the comment threatened current norms of good taste and decency in the context of the broadcast, or that it justified limiting the important right to freedom of expression in this case. Context is crucial in determining whether a broadcast seriously violates community norms of taste and decency, and a broadcast’s context may, in some cases, minimise its harmfulness.2
 The comment was preceded by a serious conversation in which the panelists expressed their views about the outcome of Mr Smith’s court case. We have found that Mr Williams’ comment represented a clear shift in tone, from the serious to the absurd. It was a throwaway line reflecting Mr William’s apparent frustration with the outcome of Mr Smith’s case. The other panelists’ reactions to the comment, in which they laughed and one commented in response, ‘You’re a hard man, Larry’, indicated that it was not to be taken seriously. Further, the comment subject to complaint was brief, was not elaborated on, and lacked any level of detail or graphic imagery regarding waterboarding or any other violent acts.
 Larry Williams Drive on Newstalk ZB is targeted at, and likely to be listened to, an adult audience (especially at the time of broadcast just before 6pm). The programme is described as follows: ‘With a straight down the middle approach, Larry Williams Drive on Newstalk ZB delivers the very latest news and views to New Zealanders as they wrap up their day. Assertive, direct and opinionated, Larry is well respected by leading news makers, business leaders and political insiders’.3
 We are satisfied that, given audience expectations of the programme, listeners were likely to interpret the comment as a hyperbolic statement. In the context of a robust discussion about a contentious court case, we consider the programme’s audience would understand that the comment was a deliberate exaggeration of Mr Williams’ views for comedic effect, and not a suggestion that Mr Smith actually be waterboarded. We therefore consider this comment would not have been outside audience expectations of the programme and host.
 Having regard to the above relevant factors, we therefore find insufficient justification for us to interfere with the right to freedom of expression in this case. Mr Williams was entitled under this right to express his view, provided this was not outweighed by any likely harm caused to any individual or to audiences generally. We are satisfied Mr Williams’ right was not outweighed here.
 Accordingly we do not uphold the good taste and decency complaint.
 The purpose of the law and order standard (Standard 5) is to prevent broadcasts that encourage audiences to break the law, or otherwise promote criminal or serious antisocial activity.4 The standard is concerned with broadcasts that actively undermine, or promote disrespect for, the law or legal processes.
The parties’ submissions
 Mr Smith submitted that:
 NZME submitted that:
 To find a breach of this standard, a broadcast must actively undermine the law or directly incite the audience to break the law, if there is a real likelihood that viewers or listeners will act on it.5
 For similar reasons to those outlined above under good taste and decency, we do not consider Mr Williams’ comment could be construed as seriously encouraging the waterboarding of Mr Smith, and listeners were unlikely to interpret it as such.
 We acknowledge Mr Smith’s submissions regarding his particular vulnerability in the prison environment, however in the context of the broadcast, we do not consider the comment would have encouraged or incited violent acts, allowing us to find a breach of the standard. This comment was depicted and treated by the presenters as a throwaway line, and we are satisfied audiences would have viewed it in the same way.
 We therefore do not uphold this aspect of Mr Smith’s complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
4 September 2017
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Phillip Smith’s formal complaint – 20 March 2017
2 NZME’s response to the complaint – 24 April 2017
3 Mr Smith’s referral to the Authority – received 15 May 2017
4 NZME’s response to the referral – 2 June 2017
5 Mr Smith’s final comments – received 23 June 2017
6 NZME’s final comments – 3 July 2017
1 Blisset and RadioWorks, Decision No. 2012-006, in which the Authority found Michael Laws’ comments about shooting journalists (in the context of the ‘tea tapes’ scandal) breached good taste and decency. In that case, the Authority found there was ‘no softening of the words delivered with laughter or light-heartedness’. The combination of the length of the comments, the repeated use of graphic imagery, the specificity of the comments in relation to identified journalists and its mode of delivery, made the statement unacceptable.
2 Commentary to Standard 1 – Good Taste and Decency, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 12
4 See, for example, Keane and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-082
5 Commentary: Standard 5 – Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 15.