BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Baird and RadioWorks Ltd - 2013-041

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Jane Baird
Number
2013-041
Broadcaster
RadioWorks Ltd
Channel/Station
The Edge

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Jay-Jay, Mike & Dom Show – contained discussion about a controversial tweet by one of the hosts in which he said, “Girls rapping. Hardly ever a good idea” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, controversial issues, accuracy, fairness, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming standards

Findings
Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) – broadcast and comments encouraged debate and discussion about legitimate issue – contained views both for and against the tweet and the criticism it attracted – host’s comment about Asian drivers was not derogatory – broadcast did not encourage discrimination or denigration against women or Asian people as sections of the community – not upheld

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – broadcast sparked debate about the acceptability of the tweet and whether it was sexist, as opposed to promoting or condoning sexism – broadcast not socially irresponsible – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  During the Jay-Jay, Mike & Dom Show, the hosts discussed a controversial tweet made by one of the hosts, Dom, in relation to The X Factor NZ, a reality television music competition. The tweet stated, “Girls rapping. Hardly ever a good idea”. This attracted criticism, with some people calling the tweet sexist. The programme was broadcast on The Edge at 6am on 29 April 2013.

[2]  Jane Baird made a formal complaint to RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that, in discussing the tweet, the hosts made comments that were sexist, inaccurate, unbalanced, unfair and irresponsible.

[3]  The standards most relevant to the complainant’s concerns are the discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming standards. Ms Baird also raised other standards which we have addressed at paragraphs [17] to [19] below.

[4]  The focus of this decision therefore is whether the broadcast breached standards relating to discrimination and denigration (Standard 7), and responsible programming (Standard 8), as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  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 encourage discrimination or denigration against any section of the community? 

[6]  Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, a section of the community.

[7]  The broadcast subject to complaint consisted of a discussion about Dom’s tweet and the public’s reaction to that tweet. Ms Baird identified comments which she argued encouraged discrimination and denigration against women, as follows:

  • “I just tweeted, ‘Girls rapping. Hardly ever a good idea’… and that was it… and suddenly I am a feminist arsehole…” (Dom)
  • “As a woman – and I love hip hop, it is my favourite genre – I would tend to agree.” (Jay-Jay)
  • “Apologise, what for? So it’s like I owe an entire sex an apology… because there’s a few hairy armpit feminists that are out there.” (Dom)
  • “…and he is getting a hard time, there’s quite a [lot of] Twitter abuse to him from a few female rappers who we’ve never heard of [laughter]…” (Jay-Jay)
  • “There are just not that many good female rappers… [Name] – everyone pretends to like her but how many songs can you actually name?” (Dom)
  • •“It is not like [Dom] was trying to get at them, he was just pointing out a simple fact. There aren’t that many [female rappers] out there, and it is few and far between to find any good female rap.” (caller)
  • “I would have to agree with Dom, there aren’t that many good rapping chicks.” (caller)
  • “Well I’ve been trying for a while now but people won’t accept a white girl rapper.” (Jay-Jay)
  • “Apologise, what the hell for? I am offended people are offended. The day we have to start saying sorry for our opinions on music will be a sad day. It’s not really any different from saying ‘Coldplay are boring’.” (Jay-Jay, reading Dom’s quote from the Herald on Sunday)

[8]  In our view, the broadcast, including these comments, carried a level of public interest because it facilitated and encouraged debate about a legitimate issue, namely, the tweet and whether the criticism it attracted was justified. In this sense, the broadcast actually broke down and exposed – as opposed to promoted – sexist stereotypes. The light-hearted and joking tone of the commentary was consistent with the usual format of the programme, and did not detract from the value of the segment.

[9]  Further, not all views presented in the broadcast were in support of the tweet, and the comments identified by the complainant (see paragraph [7]) were not representative of the discussion in its entirety. For example, one of the hosts, Mike, gave his view that the tweet’s reference to female rappers was a “generalisation”, and listeners were asked for their opinions on whether Dom was “out of line”, and whether it was “a bit rough that he is getting a hard time, or is it fair enough that he is getting hard time?” The free flow of ideas and opinions in this way is valuable in terms of freedom of expression.

[10]  Ms Baird also argued that Jay-Jay’s comment, “It is like saying Asian drivers, Asians shouldn’t drive. How many people say that? So many people, but it doesn’t mean that actually all Asians shouldn’t drive, does it?”, discriminated against Asian people.

[11]  We disagree. This comment was obviously an analogy to show that Dom’s tweet about female rappers was a generalisation. The point being made was that stereotypes do not necessarily reflect reality. The comment was not derogatory and could not be said to have blackened the reputation or encouraged the different treatment of Asian people to their detriment.

[12]  Accordingly, we find that the broadcast did not encourage discrimination or denigration against any section of the community and we therefore decline to uphold the Standard 7 complaint.

Was the broadcast socially irresponsible?

[13]  The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires broadcasters to ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible. Guideline 8a to the standard states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme content may have on children during their normally accepted listening times.

[14]  Ms Baird was concerned about the impact of the broadcast on “young female listeners”. She referred specifically to some of the comments at paragraph [7].

[15]  For the reasons expressed under Standard 7, we are satisfied that the alleged impact on the audience profile identified – that is, young females – was minimal because the broadcast actually encouraged debate about the acceptability of the tweet and whether it was sexist; it did not promote or condone sexism. The broadcast was not socially irresponsible and children’s interests were adequately considered.

[16]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

Did the broadcasts breach the other standards raised in the complaint?

[17]  Ms Baird also raised the good taste and decency, controversial issues, accuracy, and fairness standards. In summary, these standards were not breached and/or were not applicable because:

  • The good taste and decency standard is primarily concerned with sexual material, nudity, coarse language and violence, or material that is likely to cause offence or distress. The broadcast did not contain any coarse language and the comments would not have offended or distressed most listeners taking into account audience expectations of the programme and of The Edge radio station (Standard 1).
  • The Jay-Jay, Mike & Dom Show is not a news, current affairs or factual programme to which the controversial issues or accuracy standards applied (Standards 4 and 5).1
  • The fairness standard only applies to individuals taking part or referred to, and not to women or female rappers as groups. The complainant did not identify any individual referred to in the broadcast who she considered was treated unfairly (Standard 6).

[18]  The complainant also referred to the children’s interests standard, arguing that the broadcast would have a negative impact on young female listeners. However, the Radio Code does not contain a children’s interests standard, and the complainant’s concerns in this respect have been adequately addressed under the responsible programming standard.

[19]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that these standards were breached.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
3 September 2013

Appendix

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

1           Jane Baird’s formal complaint – 2 May 2013

2          RadioWorks’ response to the complaint – 24 May 2013

3          Ms Baird’s referral to the Authority – 7 June 2013

4          RadioWorks’ response to the Authority – 1 July 2013


1See, for example, Simmons and Walker-Simmons and RadioWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2012-004.