BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Bhandiwad and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2010-153

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Sanjeev Bhandiwad
Number
2010-153
Channel/Station
Prime TV

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
The Crowd Goes Wild – host made comments about acclimatising to conditions in India leading up to the Commonwealth Games – allegedly in breach of discrimination and denigration standard

Findings
Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) – host’s comments related to conditions in India – comments did not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, Indian people as a section of the community – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]    During an episode of The Crowd Goes Wild, broadcast on Prime at 7pm on 14 September 2010, an item reported on the Samoan Rugby Sevens team’s training in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in India. Following the item, one of the hosts, Mark Richardson, said to his co-host Andrew Mulligan:

I think that’s wonderful, you know, trying to acclimatise by training in the heat. If they really want to acclimatise to India, what they should also do is maybe break open a sewer pipe or something. Well then you get the smell as well, don’t you? I’m telling you by the time you go I will have prepared you so well for India and you’ll thank me.

[2]   Mr Mulligan laughed as Mr Richardson made these comments, before saying, “And time for a break India, we get piped in there, we’ll be back soon with a heart-warming story from the premier league”. Mr Richardson interjected saying, “Hey – I enjoyed going to India by the way.”

Complaint

[3]   Sanjeev Bhandiwad made a formal complaint to SKY Network Television Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the host’s comments about India were racist and derogatory.

Standards

[4]   Standard 7 and guideline 7a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. These provide:

Standard 7 Discrimination and Denigration

Broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, 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.

Guideline 7a   

This standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material that is:

  • factual, or
  • the expression of genuinely held opinion in news, current affairs or factual programmes, or
  • legitimate humour, drama or satire.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   SKY noted that The Crowd Goes Wild was a locally produced show which screened weekdays at 7pm and was hosted by two well-known New Zealanders along with occasional guests. It said that the programme offered “a relaxed and often humorous look at the day’s sporting news,” and that “the style of The Crowd Goes Wild is ‘firmly, firmly tongue in cheek’ with a fast-paced combination of off-beat humour, satire and irony.” In fact, SKY said, “much of the content could be judged to be critical, however always delivered in a humorous way”.

[6]   On this occasion, SKY considered that Mark Richardson had made some general comments about his experiences in India and relating to the conditions in Delhi prior to the Commonwealth Games, noting that Mr Richardson had been to India many times in his capacity as a New Zealand cricketer. The broadcaster maintained that “media reports prior to the beginning of the games were generally quite negative, primarily focusing on whether the games would actually occur, with specific references to the conditions in the athletes’ accommodation”. It said it had spoken to Mr Richardson and could confirm that the comments and views that he expressed in the programme were not designed to offend viewers.

[7]   Accordingly, SKY declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 7.

Referral to the Authority

[8]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Bhandiwad referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He maintained that Mr Richardson’s comments were highly offensive to India and should not have been broadcast on national television.

Authority's Determination

[9]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[10]   The term “denigration” has consistently been defined by the Authority as blackening the reputation of a class of people (see for example Mental Health Commission and CanWest RadioWorks1). “Discrimination” has been consistently defined as encouraging the different treatment of the members of a particular group to their detriment (e.g. Teoh and TVNZ2). It is also well-established that in light of the requirements of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, a high level of invective is necessary for the Authority to conclude that a broadcast encourages denigration or discrimination in contravention of the standard (for example, McCartain and Angus and The Radio Network3).

[11]   Standard 7 applies only to sections of the community. On this occasion, we consider that Mr Richardson’s comments clearly related to the conditions in India, and did not extend to Indian people as a section of the community. Viewers would have understood his comments to be his personal opinion, based on his own experiences of India, and offered in the context of media coverage leading up to the Commonwealth Games, which criticised conditions in and around the Games village. We also note that he balanced his initial comments by remarking at the end of the segment that he “enjoyed going to India”.

[12]   In these circumstances, we find that the host’s comments did not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, Indian people as a section of the community. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 7 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
22 February 2011

Appendix

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

1                  Sanjeev Bhandiwad’s formal complaint – 17 September 2010

2                 SKY Network Television Ltd’s response to the complaint – 28 October 2010

3                 Mr Bhandiwad’s referral to the Authority – 8 November 2010

4                 SKY’s response to the Authority – 15 December 2010


1Decision No. 2006-030

2Decision No. 2008-091

3Decision No. 2002-152