BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

McCraw and Puketapu Radio - 2017-075 (27 October 2017)

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Paula Rose
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
Dated
Complainant
  • Lawrence McCraw
Number
2017-075
Broadcaster
Puketapu Radio
Channel/Station
Puketapu Radio Palmerston

Summary

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

The song ‘(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear’ by Bryan Adams was broadcast on Puketapu Radio at 11.20am on 18 August 2017. The song contained lyrics such as, ‘I wanna be your lipstick when you lick it’ and ‘I wanna be your underwear’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the broadcast of this song was in poor taste. While it acknowledged that the lyrics were crude, the lyrics were in the nature of sexual innuendo, did not contain any explicit language and were similar to the innuendo contained in the lyrics for many rock or hard rock songs. The Authority reminded the broadcaster of its responsibilities under the Broadcasting Act 1989, particularly regarding the expectation for broadcasters to retain recordings of all broadcasts for 35 days.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  The song ‘(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear’ by Bryan Adams was broadcast on Puketapu Radio at 11.20am on 18 August 2017. The song contained lyrics such as, ‘I wanna be your lipstick when you lick it’ and ‘I wanna be your underwear’.

[2]  Lawrence McCraw complained that the broadcast of this song (which he heard twice on the station) was in poor taste.

[3]  The issue raised in Mr McCraw’s complaint is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the song subject to complaint and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

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

[5]  The purpose of the good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is to protect audience members from listening to broadcasts that are likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. Broadcasters should take effective steps to inform audiences of the nature of the programme, and enable listeners to regulate their own and children’s viewing behaviour.

The parties’ submissions

[6]  Mr McCraw submitted that the broadcast of this song was in poor taste.

[7]  Puketapu Radio submitted that, while the song lyrics were ‘of a dubious nature’, they did not contain any foul language. The broadcaster also submitted that the song was not part of the station’s general playlist, but was played at the request of listeners who regularly listened to the show.

Our analysis

[8]  When we determine a complaint alleging a breach of broadcasting standards, we first give consideration to the right to freedom of expression. We weigh the value of the broadcast item, as well as the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast. In this case, Mr McCraw has submitted that Puketapu Radio caused harm by broadcasting a song containing allegedly offensive or inappropriate song lyrics.

[9]  Context is also highly relevant to our consideration of the good taste and decency standard. Relevant contextual factors in this case include:

  • the time of broadcast, at 11.20am on a weekday morning
  • the song was released in 1996 and is by a popular and well-known musician, Bryan Adams
  • the song was requested by regular listeners of the station and of this particular host, and was not part of the general playlist
  • audience expectations of Puketapu Radio, which features a variety of music and local/community news
  • Puketapu Radio is a small, community radio station run by volunteers.

[10]  We acknowledge that the lyrics contained in this song could be seen as crude or raunchy by some listeners, particularly for older listeners who make up a large portion of Puketapu Radio’s audience. However, the lyrics contain no expletives or explicit language, and are mostly in the nature of sexual innuendo. This type of content is not uncommon or unexpected in lyrics in pop, rock and hard rock music. Puketapu Radio’s volunteer announcers appear to play a wide variety of music from different eras, including alternative music, and in our view these lyrics would not be outside audience expectations for a community radio station.

[11]  As such, and in balancing the potential harm against the right to freedom of expression, we do not consider that the broadcast of this song reached the threshold required for us to find a breach of broadcasting standards.

[12]  Accordingly we do not uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

Broadcaster obligations

[13]  Mr McCraw also complained that Puketapu Radio did not record its broadcasts and that it had no website or advertised means for members of the public to complain.

[14]  Section 30(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 (the Act) allows the Authority to make rules regarding the retention of recordings of broadcast programmes. Currently, it is recorded in the Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, which contains the Radio Code, that broadcasters are expected to retain recordings of broadcasts for 35 days. Once a broadcaster has responded to a complaint, broadcasters are expected to retain recordings for a further 20 working days to cover the time in which a complainant can refer their complaint to the Authority. This is to allow for the formal complaint period of 20 working days and to enable the broadcaster to present its point of view and for the Authority to gain the correct understanding of the content, context and tone of the broadcast.

[15]  Puketapu Radio did not have the ability to provide a recording of this broadcast. However it did provide a copy of the audio CD used and confirmed that no changes were made to the broadcast version of the song. We acknowledge that Puketapu Radio is a community station run by volunteers, with limited resources and has recently been subject to a change in management, but nevertheless we remind the broadcaster of its responsibilities under the Act. Puketapu Radio has confirmed that it is now keeping recordings of all broadcast audio in line with the Authority’s expectations.

[16]  We also note that the broadcaster now has a contact form available on its website for members of the public to make complaints, and that it broadcasts regular publicity notices, which outline the procedure for making complaints.

[17]  We are satisfied that the broadcaster has taken genuine and effective steps to achieve compliance, and that no further action is required by the Authority.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
27 October 2017

 

Appendix

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

1      Lawrence McCraw’s formal complaint – 18 August 2017
2      Mr McCraw’s clarification of standard breached – 19 August 2017
3      Puketapu Radio’s initial response to the complaint – 20 August 2017
4      Puketapu Radio’s further response to the complaint – 7 September 2017
5      Mr McCraw’s referral to the Authority – 15 September 2017
6      Mr McCraw’s further comment – 15 September 2017
7      Puketapu Radio’s confirmation of no further comment – 25 September 2017