BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Guy and RadioWorks Ltd - 2011-090

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Rebecca Guy
Number
2011-090
Programme
The Morning Fix
Broadcaster
RadioWorks Ltd
Channel/Station
More FM

Complaint under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
The Morning Fix – host described his experience of receiving a speeding ticket – said that if he had slowed down, “I probably would have held up traffic and frustrated people” and, “I hope the $120 goes towards some good boot polish and moustache trimmer” – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency and law and order 

Findings
Standard 2 (law and order) – host relaying personal story – comments intended to be comedic – did not encourage listeners to break the law or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity – not upheld

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Broadcast

[1]  During The Morning Fix, broadcast on More FM from 5.30am to 10am on Tuesday 10 May 2011, one of the hosts described his experience of receiving a $120 speeding ticket for travelling about 90km in a 70km zone. He stated:

... there was a whole stream of traffic, and then as we drive through the 70k zone we slowed down, obviously not enough, and as we drove past, it was like, you know the street cleaners that have the orange flashing lights, as we drove past it was like one of those had just turned on... all these orange flashing lights... as I drove I said ‘I know what that was, that was a speed camera’. So I am paying 120 bucks and there was that many of them [cars going over the speed limit]...

        ....

Everyone was going the same speed, quite safely through this thing and yes we were breaking the law... But good on you police... If I had actually been doing the 70 I probably would have held up traffic and frustrated people, but anyway, I hope the $120 goes towards some good boot polish and moustache trimmer.

Complaint

[2]  Rebecca Guy made a formal complaint to RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the host’s comments breached standards relating to good taste and decency and law and order.

[3]  The complainant argued that the host made “irresponsible” and “arrogant” comments which “insinuate that car drivers have ownership and priority on the roads” and were therefore disrespectful of the law. The host also made “negative” comments about how he suspected the fine would be used by the police, she said.

[4]  Ms Guy sought an on-air acknowledgement by the host that the comments were irresponsible and an undertaking from the broadcaster that it would take responsibility for ensuring respect for the law and creating a culture of “expectation” that radio DJs portrayed appropriate and professional attitudes.

Standards

[5]  Ms Guy nominated Standards 1 and 2 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice in her complaint. These provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

Standard 2 Law and Order

Broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Referral to the Authority

[6]  Having not received a response from the broadcaster within the statutory timeframe, Ms Guy referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[7]  The broadcaster apologised to the complainant for the delay in responding to her complaint.

[8]  RadioWorks said that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable to viewers in the context in which it aired. It considered that the point of the host’s story was “how often the speed camera was flashing and how many fines (like his) would have been generated by a situation where many cars hadn’t managed to slow down to the required 70km per hour”. It considered that the situation was unusual because the host thought that he had slowed down but “just went with the flow of the traffic”.

[9]  The broadcaster argued that the comments did not vilify the police, advocate speeding or criticise the situation to an extent that would have offended regular More FM listeners. The host’s tone was “not scathing of police, but resigned to finding humour in the situation”, it said.

[10]  For these reasons, RadioWorks declined to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

[11]  The broadcaster noted that the Authority had previously stated that the intent behind the law and order standard was to prevent broadcasts that encouraged viewers/listeners to break the law, or otherwise promoted, condoned or glamorised criminal activity.1 On this occasion, the host simply described his experience and made a joke about how the police may use the fine, “relaying an age-old stereotype of British ‘bobbies’”, it said.

[12]  Accordingly, RadioWorks declined to uphold the complaint that the broadcast breached Standard 2.

Authority’s Determination

[13]  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 Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Standard 2 (law and order)

[14]  The Authority has previously stated (for example, Taylor and TVWorks2) that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.

[15]  On this occasion, we consider that the host was simply relaying a personal story in a “blokey” and light-hearted manner with regard to receiving a speeding ticket, which, in his opinion, was unjustified. In our view, he was attempting to engage the radio station’s target audience by employing humour to express frustration at a situation to which, presumably, he considered most listeners would relate. We consider that listeners would have understood that the story was a personal anecdote, and that the host was not seriously advocating speeding or encouraging disrespect for the police. This was evident from the host’s tone of voice and his remarks that the police could use the fine to go towards “boot polish” and a “moustache trimmer”.

[16]  In our view, the host’s comments were intended to be comedic, and did not encourage listeners to break the law or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 2.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[17]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

[18]  The Authority has previously stated (e.g. Yeoman and TVNZ3) that standards relating to good taste and decency are primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain sexual material, nudity, violence or coarse language. In our view, the comments subject to complaint did not fall within any of these categories.

[19]  For the reasons discussed above under Standard 2, we do not consider that the host’s comments would have offended or distressed or listeners in breach of Standard 1. We therefore decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
13 September 2011

Appendix

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

1                  Rebecca Guy’s formal complaint – 10 May 2011

2                 Ms Guy’s referral to the Authority – 7 July 2011

3                 RadioWorks’ response to the Authority – 8 July 2011


1E.g. Byles and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2006-051

2Decision No. 2010-008

3Decision No. 2008-087