[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
The Authority has not upheld complaints from 20 complainants about a segment of Punjabi talkback programme, Bhakhde Masley. During the programme, the host questioned the teachings of a deceased Sikh religious figure by posing hypothetical questions about how he and his widow, now also deceased, had children. The host implied that, given the leader’s teachings about celibacy, his widow and other family members must have had sex with animals. The complainants alleged that this discussion breached the privacy of the individuals referred to, and was degrading and humiliating. The Authority acknowledged that the segment was in poor taste, but found that the broadcast was not in breach of the standards raised by the complainants. The individuals referred to were either deceased (so the privacy standard could not apply) or lived overseas, making it difficult to assess the harm that could have been caused. The discussion was ultimately hypothetical and was not intended to be taken literally. The Authority noted that the right to freedom of expression comes with responsibilities by those who exercise it, and it is clear that this broadcast caused offence and significant division within the Sikh community in New Zealand. On this occasion, however, the Authority could not uphold the complaints based on the particular standards raised.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
 On 15 April 2018, Radio Virsa broadcast Punjabi talkback programme, Bhakhde Masley.
 As this programme was broadcast in Punjabi, we sought an independent translation and transcription of the relevant segment. According to the translation we have been provided, during this broadcast segment, Mr Singh discussed with a caller to the programme the religious principles adopted by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a Sikh priest and a controversial, but widely revered, religious figure. We understand that Bhindranwale was married to Pritam Kaur, and the couple had two sons. Bhindranwale was killed on 6 June 1984 and it appears that his wife, Pritam Kaur, died on 15 September 2007.
 According to Mr Singh in the broadcast, Bhindranwale, who was the ‘chief of the Taksal’, taught his followers that the chief does not have sex with women. Given these teachings, Mr Singh went on to ask how Bhindranwale and his wife, Pritam Kaur, had children. He asked: ‘…did she [Pritam Kaur] give birth to them by some donkey, bull or through somebody else?’ He went on to question how other daughters in the faith, and Bhindranwale’s sons, would have children and whether their wives would ‘sleep with bulls’.
 The Punjabi transcription of these sections of the broadcast, provided to us by the Translation Service at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), read:
 We received 19 privacy complaints about this broadcast, which were made directly to the Authority. These complainants submitted that:
 We also received one complaint referral about this broadcast, raising the balance, accuracy, fairness and discrimination and denigration standards, in addition to privacy. This complaint was not upheld by Radio Virsa and the complainant chose to refer their complaint to the Authority for independent investigation and review. This complainant submitted that:
 In response to these complaints, Radio Virsa submitted:
 In New Zealand we value the right to freedom of expression. So when we consider a complaint that a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards, we first look at the right to freedom of expression. We weigh the value of the programme, and the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast.
 The right to freedom of expression in New Zealand allows broadcasters to raise ideas in a way that might be satirical, provocative or in poor taste, provided it does not cause harm. The right to freedom of expression therefore comes with responsibilities and broadcasting standards are designed to guide broadcasters in this exercise.
 We acknowledge that, due to Pritam Kaur’s and Bhindranwale’s religious positions, the specific comments complained about were in poor taste and caused offence to a large section of the Sikh community in New Zealand. However, we must apply the standards that have been raised by the complainants and, in this case, we have found that the standards raised have not been breached.
 The item was ultimately hypothetical and was intended to critically question religious teachings. In our view, these were not allegations against the family intended to be taken literally. In this case, it is difficult for us to assess the harm that might have been caused to the individuals referred to, given the individuals discussed are either deceased or live overseas, and have not raised complaints themselves.
 We are concerned that this broadcast has caused significant division within the Sikh community in New Zealand. However, our role is narrow and limited by the Broadcasting Act 1989. We respond to formal complaints that broadcasts have breached broadcasting standards. The scope of those standards, and the actions that we can take in response to complaints, are therefore prescribed for us in legislation.
 On this occasion, we are unable to uphold the complaints, for the reasons set out below.
 The privacy standard (Standard 10) states that broadcasters should maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual. The standard applies only to living natural people.2 As both Bhindranwale and his widow, Pritam Kaur, are deceased, the privacy standard therefore does not apply to them.
 We further do not consider that the broadcast disclosed private information about Pritam Kaur’s and Bhindranwale’s sons, daughters-in-law or grandchildren and it is highly unlikely that these individuals could have a reasonable expectation of privacy over the information discussed, given its hypothetical nature. The conversation was primarily concerned with Pritam Kaur and Bhindranwale, with the family discussed only as an aside. Taken in context, therefore, we do not consider Mr Singh’s comments disclosed any private information about the individuals referred to.
 We therefore do not uphold the privacy complaints.
 We do not consider that the remaining standards raised were breached during this broadcast, for the reasons set out below:
 We therefore do not uphold this complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
24 August 2018
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Translation of Bhakhde Masley, broadcast 15 April 2018 – Translation Service, Department of Internal Affairs
2 Jaspreet Singh’s privacy complaint – 5 May 2018
3 Khushmeet Kaur’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
4 Dilawar Singh’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
5 Bhupinder Singh’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
6 Baljit Singh’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
7 Gurjap Singh’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
8 Balwinder Singh Kang’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
9 Jagmohan Singh’s privacy complaint – 6 May 2018
10 Jassi Gill’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
11 Harjinder Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
12 Gurdial Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
13 Sukhwinder Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
14 Balraj Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
15 Gurinder Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
16 Gagan Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
17 Trilok Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
18 Harpreet Singh’s privacy complaint – 7 May 2018
19 Baltej Singh Dhaliwal’s privacy complaint – 14 May 2018
20 Manroop Singh’s privacy complaint – 30 May 2018
21 Radio Virsa’s response to the complaints – 31 May 2018
22 Complainants’ further comments – 6 June 2018
23 Pardeep Singh’s formal complaint – 10 May 2018
24 Radio Virsa’s response to the complaints – 31 May 2018
25 Pardeep Singh’s referral to the Authority – 12 June 2018
26 Radio Virsa’s response to the referral – 6 July 2018
1 During the segment, Mr Singh refers to ‘Taksal’ and the ‘Taksalis’. We understand that this generally translates to an education institute or community of students, who associate themselves with a spiritual leader. It appears that during this broadcast, Harnek Singh is talking specifically about the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh educational organisation in India, and its former leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
2 1.2, Guidance: Privacy, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 59
3 See Parlane and MediaWorks Radio Ltd, 2018-017 at 
4 Commentary: Standard 8 – Balance, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 18
5 Guideline 11a
6 The discrimination and denigration standard (Standard 6) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.