BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Jones, on behalf of Otago Rural Police of Queenstown, and The RadioWorks Ltd - 2001-117

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • J H McGregor
  • R Bryant
Dated
Complainant
  • Inspector Phil Jones on behalf
Number
2001-117
Programme
The Edge
Broadcaster
The RadioWorks Ltd
Channel/Station
The Edge # 3

Complaint
The Edge – radio announcer challenged two men to run naked down a main street – offensive behaviour – incited breach of law

Findings
Principle 2 – no evidence that broadcaster encouraged disrespect for law – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

An announcer on The Edge challenged two men to run naked down a main street in Queenstown. The event was broadcast live on The Edge (a radio network) at about 7.30am on 25 May 2001.

Inspector Phil Jones, the Area Controller for the Otago Rural Police in Queenstown, complained to The RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the behaviour which he said had been "incited" by the announcer, was "unacceptable".

The RadioWorks did not uphold the complaint. It disagreed that the radio station incited the participants, and maintained that the incident was intended to be humorous and not distressing to the public.

Dissatisfied with The RadioWorks’ decision, Inspector Jones referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

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

Decision

The members of the Authority have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix and have listened to a tape of part of the broadcast. The Authority determines this complaint without a formal hearing.

An announcer on The Edge challenged two men to run naked down a main street in Queenstown. The event was broadcast live on The Edge at about 7.30am on 25 May 2001.

Inspector Phil Jones, the Area Controller for the Otago Rural Police in Queenstown, complained to The RadioWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the behaviour which he said had been "incited" by the announcer, was "unacceptable".

The RadioWorks did not uphold the complaint. It disagreed that the radio station incited the participants, stating that the people who had accepted the challenge had done so of their own free will. The RadioWorks also maintained that the incident was intended to be humorous and not distressing to the public.

Dissatisfied with The RadioWorks’ decision, Inspector Jones referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

In his referral, Inspector Jones said that a member of the public had approached him and said he was upset by the event. He said that the two men who accepted the challenge had committed an offence in running naked down a main street and that the announcer had perhaps also committed an offence in inciting them to do so. Inspector Jones said he believed it was unacceptable to incite a breach of the laws of New Zealand.

In its response to the Authority, The RadioWorks reiterated that that the incident was intended to be humorous, and not to cause offence or distress to the public. It drew the Authority's attention to other similar events, including "National Nude Day" events, which it said were perceived by the public as "fun".

In his final comment, Inspector Jones made the following comments:

  • the challenge took place at a time people were using the street on their way to work
  • the challenge caused "annoyance and disgust" and was also "a danger to participants running down the road
  • listeners to the broadcast would have included a large number of young people
  • the participants were paid
  • the participants' actions, and the announcer's actions in inciting the incident could have led to police charges.

The Authority’s Findings

As a preliminary point, the Authority observes that it was not assisted in its determination of this complaint by the tape provided by the broadcaster. The tape was a recording of a small part at the end of the broadcast, which did not cover the issue of the challenge by The Edge. The Authority has expressed its concern in previous decisions about the failure of The RadioWorks to comply with Principle 8 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Authority again reminds The RadioWorks of its obligation under Principle 8.

As a second preliminary point, the Authority observes that neither the complainant nor the broadcaster nominated any specific radio broadcasting standard against which to assess this complaint. The Authority considers Principle 2 of the Radio Code, to be the standard relevant to this complaint. Principle 2 reads:

Principle 2

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Turning now to the substance of the complaint, the Authority’s task is to determine whether there has been any breach of broadcasting standards. It is not its function to determine whether there has been any breach of the criminal law or to comment on whether any such charge could have been made by the Police.

Having considered the material provided by the parties in relation to this complaint, the Authority does not consider that the broadcaster encouraged any disrespect for the principles of law in relation to the broadcast to an extent which amounted to incitement. Although the broadcaster issued the challenge to the participants, the Authority finds no evidence of encouragement to the degree it considers necessary to constitute a breach of Principle 2. Accordingly, the Authority finds that Principle 2 was not breached.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
20 September 2001

Appendix

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

  1. Inspector Phil Jones' Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks – 1 June 2001
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 25 June 2001
  3. Inspector Jones' Referral to the Authority – 28 June 2001
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Authority – 27 July 2001
  5. Inspector Jones' Final Comment – 5 August 2001