Murdoch and TVWorks Ltd - 2011-059
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Roz Murdoch
Channel/StationTV3 # 3
Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
7 Days – contained racial comments, coarse language and sexual connotations – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency and responsible programming
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – content amounted to legitimate humour/satire referencing current affairs issues – consistent with expectations of New Zealand comedy programme broadcast at 9.30pm – contextual factors – not upheld
Standard 8 (responsible programming) – programme correctly classified AO and screened at 9.30pm – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An episode of 7 Days, a comedy programme in which two teams of comedians reviewed the week’s news stories, was broadcast at 9.30pm on TV3 on Friday 1 April 2011.
 During the programme, the comedians were shown a silent news clip of a blonde woman talking to a Māori man, and one of the comedians commentated, “Well basically, I’m just not that comfortable talking to brown people.” After being informed that the news story related to kindergarten children earning “gun licences”, one of the comedians joked that teachers would start racially profiling children so as not to give licences to those with Muslim names. Later in the programme, the host made a joke about not repaying his student loan. The episode also contained coarse language and sexual connotations.
 At the beginning of the programme the host issued the following verbal warning:
The following show is for adults only and contains bad language that may offend some people.
 Roz Murdoch made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the programme breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 8 (responsible programming).
 The complainant argued that the level of language and sexual content in the programme was offensive, required a higher classification and was inappropriate for broadcast at 9.30pm on a Friday. In particular, she referred to “racial comments”, the discussion of “sex and testicles”, comments which encouraged viewers not to re-pay student loans, and numerous references to a political figure.
 The complainant nominated Standards 1 and 8 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in her complaint, which provide:
Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency
Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.
Standard 8 Responsible Programming
Broadcasters should ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible.
Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant
 TVWorks maintained that the comments in the programme were intended to be humorous and were acceptable in the context of the programme. It noted that at the beginning of the programme the host issued a verbal warning for “bad language that may offend some people”, which gave viewers ample opportunity to make an alternative viewing choice.
 The broadcaster noted that 7 Days was a very popular local programme that had become a “mainstay of the TV3 Friday night schedule”. It therefore considered that most viewers would be familiar with the type of material it was likely to contain and would not have been surprised or “unduly offended” by the content. Further, it noted that the programme was rated AO, restricted to screening after 9.30pm, and targeted at an adult audience.
 Taking into account the relevant contextual factors, TVWorks concluded that the broadcast did not breach Standards 1 or 8 and it declined to uphold the complaint.
Referral to the Authority
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Ms Murdoch referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The complainant argued that the sexual connotations in the programme were unacceptable for broadcast on a Friday night when children tended to stay up later. In her view, the programme required a higher rating than AO. Ms Murdoch maintained that Standards 1 and 8 had been breached.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
Standard 1 (good taste and decency)
 When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:
- 7 Days was broadcast at 9.30pm on a Friday night, an hour after the watershed
- the programme was classified Adults Only
- the host issued a verbal warning for “bad language that may offend some people”
- the programme’s target audience
- expectations of regular viewers.
 7 Days was a local comedy programme in which groups of comedians discussed news stories from the previous week. In our view, the content subject to complaint was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, rather than offensive or abusive. Many of the comments specifically complained about related to current affairs issues and amounted to political satire and/or sarcasm. In our view, this episode of 7 Days would have accorded with the expectations of regular viewers, particularly given the programme’s AO classification and 9.30pm screening time. Further, the host issued a verbal warning for “bad language” that may offend.
 Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the episode breached Standard 1.
Standard 8 (responsible programming)
 Standard 8 requires that programmes are correctly classified and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code.
 The complainant argued that the episode was unacceptable for broadcast at 9.30pm on a Friday when children tended to stay up later, and considered that it required a higher rating than AO.
 On this occasion, we consider that the AO classification was appropriate given that the episode screened at 9.30pm and the host issued a verbal warning for “bad language”. We consider that the content subject to complaint would have accorded with the expectations of regular viewers of 7 Days within that timeslot.
 For these reasons, we decline to uphold the complaint that Standard 8 was breached.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
8 July 2011
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Roz Murdoch’s formal complaint – 2 April 2011
2 TVWorks’ response to the formal complaint – 4 April 2011
3 Ms Murdoch’s referral to the Authority – 9 May 2011
4 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 25 May 2011