Ahern and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2014-063
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Paul Ahern
BroadcasterMediaWorks Radio Ltd
Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]
During The Edge Afternoons with Guy, Sharyn and Clint the hosts ran a segment called ‘Shaz Dog’s Love Shack’, where listeners could text and call in to ask for advice on love and relationships. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that ‘a discussion of sexual positions’ breached standards. The segment was consistent with the style of content and humour regularly broadcast on The Edge, and was unlikely to surprise or offend the target audience of 15- to 39-year-olds. Most of the content was in the nature of sexual innuendo and would have gone over the heads of younger listeners.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming, Controversial Issues
 During The Edge Afternoons with Guy, Sharyn and Clint the hosts ran a segment called ‘Shaz Dog’s Love Shack’, where listeners could text and call in to ask for advice on love and relationships. The hosts considered a text from a listener asking, ‘How do I get the romance and sex-drive back from my husband?’ In the discussion, Guy asked Sharyn ‘…can you get to a point in your marriage, where you’ve done all the sex moves, and you’ve poked in every hole in the body?’ The segment aired on The Edge at 4.10pm on Wednesday 16 April 2014.
 Paul Ahern made a formal complaint to MediaWorks Radio Ltd (MediaWorks), alleging that it was ‘completely irresponsible’ to broadcast ‘a discussion of sexual positions’ while ‘there are many children listening to The Edge’.
 Mr Ahern raised standards of good taste and decency, controversial issues, responsible programming and children’s interests in his complaint. The controversial issues standard only applies to news, current affairs and factual programming, and so does not apply to this kind of radio programme. Children’s interests is not a separate standard in the Radio Code, but is covered by responsible programming.
 The issue therefore is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency, and responsible programming standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 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 breach the good taste and decency, or responsible programming standards?
 The good taste and decency standard is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The responsible programming standard requires broadcasters to be mindful of child listeners, taking into account the context in which it is broadcast.
 The discussion subject to the complaint took place as follows:
Sharyn: Shall we start it off with some quick fire texts, Guy?
Guy: Okay, and I got some scary ones for you, so get ready. ‘How do I get the romance and sex-drive back from my husband?’ Boom.
Sharyn: Ooh. I reckon you just have to make the bedroom again an exciting place, because it’s really easy to make it boring, especially if you guys have been married a long time. I don’t know, maybe just book a nice hotel in the city that you’re in and just go and have a weekend together or buy some sexy lingerie, show him what he’s missing, but just find something new and something exciting that you can do together.
Guy: I know nothing about this, or a long-term relationship or anything, so I’m definitely not an expert Sharyn, but can you get to a point in your marriage, where you’ve done all the sex moves, and you’ve poked in every hole in the body…
Clint: Okay, okay, okay…
Guy: …and then you’ve, you know, clocked sex?
Sharyn: I haven’t been married long enough to tell you that, but from what I’ve heard that is true, but you still have to find ways to make it different.
Clint: Sharyn still has the ears and nose to go.
 Mr Ahern considered that a discussion about sexual positions ‘might be tolerable’ after 10pm, but not in the afternoon when ‘there are many children listening to The Edge’. He said, ‘as a parent I should be able to rely on the radio station’s broadcast at 4.10pm on a Wednesday afternoon being close to PG rated… Especially a radio station… with such a broad listener base’.
 MediaWorks argued that the comments were ‘unlikely to have offended a significant number of regular listeners’. The broadcaster said that the station often broadcasts material that could be considered ‘risqué without crossing the line into… sexually explicit’. As there were no ‘explicit anatomical references made’, it considered that children were unlikely to have understood the comments to refer to sexual positions, and therefore the content ‘did not cross the line of acceptability’. It maintained that the hosts on The Edge were renowned for their ‘wit and quirky senses of humour’, light-hearted banter and ‘mischievous but innocuous’ pranks and jokes. The humour was intended purely to entertain and to make listeners laugh, it said.
 When we consider a complaint about good taste and decency or responsible programming, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:
- The Edge is aimed at listeners aged between 15 and 39 years
- the time of broadcast at 4.10pm, when children could be listening
- the discussion took place as part of a segment offering advice about love and relationships
- it was intended to be humorous
- audience expectations of The Edge and of this programme.
 In this context, we do not think that most listeners would have been unduly surprised or offended by the content. While the segment contained sexual references and innuendo, it was clear that it was meant to be humorous rather than offensive. When Guy referred to ‘sexual moves’, the other hosts attempted to tame him and temper the discussion, saying ‘Okay, okay, okay…’ and trying to return to sensible advice.
 Inexplicit sexual references or sexual innuendo are permissible during children’s listening times.2 It is likely that a lot of this content would have gone over the heads of younger children. In any case, The Edge is not targeted at children, and this segment was consistent with the style of content and humour regularly broadcast on The Edge.
 For these reasons, 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
21 August 2014
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Paul Ahern’s formal complaint – 16 April 2014
2 MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 23 May 2014
3 Mr Ahern’s referral to the Authority –28 May 2014
4 MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 11 June 2014
1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112
2Hastie and The Radio Network Ltd, Decision No. 2013-060