BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

McKenzie and 95bfm - 2005-090

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainants
  • Gregg McKenzie
  • London, United Kingdom
Number
2005-090
Programme
95bfm news
Broadcaster
95bFM
Channel/Station
95bFM

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
News item about double homicide – local resident reported as saying he knew who did it and intended to pay murderer a visit – announcer commented “wouldn’t that make a cool movie, like Kill Bill” – allegedly irresponsible

Findings
Principle 7 (social responsibility) – thoughtless comment by announcer minimised by news reader’s critical response – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] A news item referred to a double homicide in Feilding and mentioned the response from a local resident. The resident was reported as saying he knew who was responsible, owned two rifles, and intended to “pay some people a visit”. The item added that he had been warned by the police not to take vigilante action. The item was broadcast on 95bfm at 9.00am on 7 June 2005.

[2] The announcer then commented “wouldn’t that make a cool movie – like Kill Bill”. The news reader responded to the announcer and said: “You really are so removed from reality”.

Complaint

[3] Gregg McKenzie complained to 95bfm that the announcer’s comment was irresponsible and tasteless. He said that he regularly listened in London to 95bfm live on-line via the internet and that he had emailed the announcer at the time to record his objection. The announcer’s reply, he said, had not been an apology and had caused further offence. The announcer had written:

Thanks for your feedback.

I’d have to say that as a radio dj everything I say on air will not appease everybody, what I said before for example and your reaction being a prime indication of that. I’m not making any apologies though, if I didn’t say something offensive every now and then, a reaction or opinion wouldn’t be stirred.

I’ll send you some tampons and tissues.

Principles

[4] In his formal complaint, Mr McKenzie contended that the item breached Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. It reads:

Principle 7

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to be socially responsible.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5] Noting that he had heard the broadcast complained about, 95bfm’s Programme Director said that nothing could de-value the gravity of the murders and that the announcer’s comment was “a little thoughtless and insensitive” to those affected by the tragedy. Nevertheless, he added, it was true that the scenario would probably make a good film. Describing the announcer’s response to the email as a “little rough”, he said he had spoken to the announcer and advised her of the need to consider her comments carefully.

[6] In his response, the Programme Director did not refer to any specific broadcasting standards.

Referral to the Authority

[7] Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr McKenzie referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[8] Mr McKenzie did not accept that the announcer’s tasteless and potentially provocative comments could be seen as legitimate humour. He considered that the comments were unprofessional and irresponsible, and that it was in poor taste to endorse vigilantism.

[9] Pointing out that the Programme Director’s response did not include an apology, Mr McKenzie wondered whether his complaint had been taken seriously.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[10] 95bfm maintained that the broadcast had not breached the standards.

Authority's Determination

[11] The members of the Authority have listened to a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[12] The Authority notes that the complainant heard the comment via the internet. While the Authority’s jurisdiction over internet content is limited, it accepts that a broadcast which is also simulcast on the internet does fall within its jurisdiction.

[13] The Authority considers that the announcer’s comment on this occasion did not breach the standard. While the remark was insensitive, it was offered in a light-hearted way and the news reader’s immediate critical response minimised any possible impact. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that the requirement in Principle 7 to exercise social responsibility was not contravened.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
28 September 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Gregg McKenzie’s formal complaint to 95bfm – 8 June 2005
  2. 95bfm’s response to Mr McKenzie – 4 July 2005
  3. Mr McKenzie’s referral to the Authority – 21 July 2005
  4. 95bfm’s response to the Authority – 3 August 2005