BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

McCabe and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2014-129

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Christine McCabe
MediaWorks Radio Ltd
More FM # 5

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The song 'Smile' by Lily Allen was broadcast during MORE FM Breakfast with Si and Gary. The song included one muted use of the word 'fucking'. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the item breached standards of good taste and decency as the word 'fucking' was not clearly audible and occurred only once in the song.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


[1]  The song 'Smile' by Lily Allen was broadcast during MORE FM Breakfast with Si and Gary. The opening lyrics of the song included one instance of the word 'fucking', which was partly muted.

[2]  Christine McCabe complained that the word 'fucking' was 'quite audible'.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The song was broadcast at 8am on 4 September 2014 on MORE FM. The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the song as it was broadcast and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1

[6]  Ms McCabe argued that the version of the song 'Smile' played on MORE FM was not censored or 'clean' as the 'f' and the 'ing' were 'quite distinct'. She said that the show was listened to by a lot of young children and there should be 'at least some times in the day when their young ears are protected from profanities'.

[7]  MediaWorks argued that 'the offending word was covered with a beat in the music' and could not be heard. It said that it had played a 'clean version' of the song, but that sometimes 'listeners expecting to hear the word believe they hear it'. It said that those 'who are not aware of the actual lyric would hear the song as it is'.

[8]  When we consider a complaint about good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • the comments were made just before 8am on a weekday, when children could be listening
  • MORE FM's target audience of 25- to 44-year-olds
  • audience expectations of MORE FM
  • audience expectations of breakfast radio shows.

[9]  While the comments were broadcast just before 8am at a time when children could be listening, the station is not targeted at children, but at adults aged between 25 and 44. Having listened to the song, we are satisfied that the word 'fucking' was not clearly audible and that MediaWorks' attempt to censor it was adequate. The muted word was used only once in the very first lyrics of the song and was fleeting in the context of the song as a whole, so we think it was likely to go over the heads of most listeners, including children, who were not expecting to hear it.

[10]  Overall, we find that the song as broadcast did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency and we decline to uphold the complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich

5 February 2015



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

1     Ms McCabe's formal complaint – 5 September 2014
2     MediaWorks' response to the complaint – 30 September 2014
3     Ms McCabe's referral to the Authority – 2 October 2014
4     MediaWorks' response to the Authority – 31 October 2014



1 Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112