BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Hoskin and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2003-136

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • R Bryant
Dated
Complainant
  • Kristin Hoskin
Number
2003-136

Complaint
Sky Television Rugby Channel – All Black vs. Springboks match – replay of opening try – commentator said “Well, so slick, so smooth, almost a Brazilian…Ronaldo-ish” – offensive

Findings
Standard S2 – throwaway line – not offensive to majority of viewers – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

[1] A rugby match between New Zealand and South Africa was broadcast live on Sky Television Rugby Channel at approximately 7.30pm on 9 August 2003. The commentator, Murray Mexted, said, during the replay of the All Blacks opening try: “Well so slick, so smooth almost a Brazilian … Ronaldo-ish”.

[2] Kristin Hoskin complained to Sky Network Television Ltd, the broadcaster, that the comment was offensive.

[3] When the broadcaster failed to respond to her formal complaint, Ms Hoskin referred it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[4] In its response to the Authority, Sky disagreed that the comment breached standards of good taste and decency.

For the reasons below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

[5] The members of the Authority have viewed a video of the programme complained about and have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The Programme

[6] At approximately 7.30pm on 9 August 2003 a Tri Nations rugby match between the All Blacks and Springboks in Dunedin was broadcast live on the Sky Rugby Channel. During a replay, following the opening try by the All Blacks, the commentator said: “Well so slick, so smooth, almost a Brazilian…Ronaldo-ish”.

The Complaint

[7] Ms Hoskin complained that the comment was offensive and derogatory. In her view the language was “totally inappropriate”, and she found that the comment was “sexist and vulgar and not the sort of language” that children or adults should be exposed to.

[8] Ms Hoskin expressed her concern that children could pick up on such comments, even though they may not have understood the nature of the comment complained about. She wrote:

I believe rugby programmes are family entertainment and the language used by the commentators should be suitable for a family audience. I didn’t see any statement at the beginning of the broadcast to say “some language may offend” and in my opinion statements such as that used by Mr Mexted were extremely offensive and don’t conform to the Broadcasting Act.

The Complainant’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

[9] As Ms Hoskin failed to receive a response to her formal complaint from Sky within 20 working days, she referred her complaint to the Authority.

The Standards

[10] After the Authority referred the complaint to Sky, the broadcaster assessed the complaint against Standard S2 of the Standard Code of Broadcasting Practice for Subscription Television. It requires broadcasters:

S2 To take into consideration currently accepted norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour, bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs.

The Broadcaster’s Responses to the Authority

[11] Sky advised that it had no record of receiving the complaint. In its view, the comments were “off-the-cuff comments” made by the commentator “in the heat of the moment.” It said that the expression reflected the commentator’s “excitement and enthusiasm”. Sky noted that although the expression had been used previously “the majority of viewers still would not really understand what was meant” by the comment.

[12] Sky contended that the commentator was “well known for his interesting and somewhat unconventional way of delivering his commentaries on rugby games.” The broadcaster apologised for any offence that had been caused to the complainant. However, in its view the expression in context was not offensive and did not breach broadcasting standards.

The Authority’s Determination

[13] When the Authority determines a complaint that a broadcast contravenes Standard S2 of the Subscription Television Code, it is required to determine whether the comment complained about breaches currently accepted standards of good taste and decency, taking into account the context of the broadcast. The context is relevant, but does not determine whether the programme breached the standard.

[14] The Authority notes that the commentator, a former All Black, regularly provides expert comments at rugby broadcasts in New Zealand and is well known for his distinctive style. The Authority agrees with the broadcaster that the comment, made in the aftermath of a try, was neither dwelt upon nor embellished in anyway. In the Authority’s view it was a “throwaway” line, typical of the commentator’s style.

[15] Further, the Authority considers that the meaning of the expression was not likely to have been widely understood. Even if understood, it was unlikely in context to be offensive to the majority of viewers.

[16] Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold a breach of Standard S2.

[17] The Authority also notes the complainant’s concern that the broadcaster failed to respond to her original complaint. As the broadcaster had no record of receiving the complaint the Authority has decided, on this occasion, not to take the matter any further.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
15 December 2003

Appendix

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

1. Kristin Hoskin’s Complaint to Sky Network Television Ltd – 9 August 2003

2. Ms Hoskin’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 11 September 2003

3. Sky’s Responses to the Authority – 26 September, 13 and 20 October 2003