BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Morrison and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2011-164

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • John Morrison
Number
2011-164
Broadcaster
Radio New Zealand Ltd
Channel/Station
National Radio

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Afternoons with Jim Mora – discussed New Zealand First’s decision to drop a candidate for drinking his own urine – panellist commented that Don Brash and John Banks “drink each other’s urine” – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, fairness, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – comment puerile, but not so offensive as to breach Standard 1 – would not have offended or distressed most listeners – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 6 (fairness) – comment did not carry any invective – was not unfair to Don Brash or John Banks – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Introduction

[1]  Afternoons with Jim Mora, broadcast on Radio New Zealand National on 21 October 2011, included a panel discussion about New Zealand First’s decision to drop one of its candidates for drinking his own urine. The following exchange occurred:

Panellist 1:    Look at it logically, I mean if Don Brash and John Banks were to consume a  
                   glass of [urine] every morning, it would presumably invigorate them.

Panellist 2:   No, the problem with them is that they drink each other’s urine.

[2]  John Morrison made a formal complaint to Radio New Zealand Ltd (RNZ), the broadcaster, alleging that the panellist’s comment “they drink each other’s urine” was “offensive and insulting”, and breached standards relating to good taste and decency, fairness, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming.

[3]  RNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 6 (fairness), though Mr Morrison also raised Standards 7 (discrimination and denigration) and 8 (responsible programming) in his original complaint. We consider that the broadcaster assessed the complaint under the most relevant standards, and we proceed to determine it accordingly.

[4]  The issue therefore is whether the comment breached Standards 1 and 6 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  The members of the Authority have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the comment threaten current norms of good taste and decency standard?

[6]  We note that Standard 1 is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence. However, the Authority will also consider the standard in relation to material that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.1

[7]  The comment subject to complaint was made in the context of a light-hearted discussion about politics in the lead-up to the general election, and was an attempt at humour, as opposed to being derogatory or abusive. While puerile, we do not consider that in the context of a political discussion during a magazine-style radio show targeted at adults, the comment threatened current norms of good taste and decency, or would have offended most listeners.

[8]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

Was the comment unfair to Don Brash or John Banks?

[9]  Standard 6 (fairness) requires broadcasters to deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme.

[10]  As noted above, the comment was made during a political discussion a month before the general election, was intended to be humorous and did not carry any invective. Accordingly, we do not consider that it was unfair to Don Brash or John Banks, and we decline to uphold the Standard 6 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
28 February 2012

Appendix

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

1                  John Morrison’s formal complaint – 22 October 2011

2                 RNZ’s response to the complaint – 21 November 2011

3                 Mr Morrison’s referral to the Authority – 5 December 2011

4                 RNZ’s response to the Authority – 20 December 2011


1Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November, 2006)