BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Savill and The Radio Network Ltd - 2006-066

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Mike Savill
Newstalk ZB

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Paul Holmes Breakfast – comment included a statement that the Green Party was the party of square dancers – complainant objected to square dancers being associated with the Green Party – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and denigrated square dancers

Principle 1 (good taste and decency) – standard not relevant to complaint – not upheld

Principle 7 and guideline 7a (denigration) – square dancers not a “section of the community” to which the guideline applies – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] On 6 June 2006 at approximately 7.15am, the host of the Paul Holmes Breakfast on Newstalk ZB stated that the Green Party was the party of:

…the hippies, the Morris dancers, the square dancers, the anti-Americans, the nuclear ships fanatics, the fascists of greenness, the far-left, the remnants of the alliance, anti-free traders, apologists for Mao, communist sympathisers, the enemies of science, and the rabid, irrational anti-GM movement.


[2] Mike Savill made a formal complaint about the broadcast to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), the broadcaster. He said that the host’s statement was untrue, because in thirty years of square dancing he had not met a square dancer who supported the Green Party.

[3] Mr Savill stated that the host had labelled him as a “fascist” and “politically green”. He contended that the host’s remark was in breach of good taste and decency and that it had denigrated square dancers.


[4] The complainant nominated Principles 1 and 7 and guideline 7a of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. They provide:

Principle 1

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Principle 7

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

Guideline 7a

Broadcasters will not portray people in a manner which encourages denigration of or discrimination against any section of the community on account of gender, race, age, disability, occupational status, sexual orientation; or as the consequence of legitimate expression of religious, cultural or political beliefs. This requirement does not extend to prevent the broadcast of material which is:

i) factual; or

ii) a genuine expression of serious comment, analysis or opinion, or

iii) by way of legitimate humour or satire.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5] TRN stated that the Paul Holmes Breakfast was a freewheeling show featuring interviews, comment and entertainment. It said that some of the comment was “delivered in a humorous, sometimes satirical, fashion”, and contended that the broadcast complained about fell into this genre.

[6] The broadcaster noted that the host had listed a number of groups which he considered were part of “the Green Party makeup”. While he had described some as the “fascists of greenness”, this had not been linked to square dancers, it said. TRN added:

While it is your summation that in no way are square dancers linked to the Green Party, the humorous bent to the broadcast makes the mention harmless.

[7] TRN did not uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[8] Dissatisfied with TRN’s response, Mr Savill referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He contended that the host’s remarks were neither factual nor humorous, and had been intended to ridicule square dancers. Mr Savill maintained that the broadcast breached standards of good taste and decency and denigration.

Authority's Determination

[9] The members of the Authority have listened to 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.

Principle 1 (good taste and decency)

[10] The Authority notes that Mr Savill nominated Principle 1 (good taste and decency) and Principle 7 and guideline 7a (denigration) in his initial complaint and his referral to the Authority. However, TRN only assessed the complaint under Principle 7 of the Radio Code.

[11] The Authority agrees with the approach taken by TRN. The good taste and decency standard is intended primarily to address issues of sex, nudity, bad language and violence. As Mr Savill’s complaint does not relate to any of these matters, the Authority considers that Principle 1 is not relevant on this occasion. It does not uphold the good taste and decency complaint.

Principle 7 (social responsibility) and guideline 7a (denigration)

[12] Guideline 7a is intended to protect sections of the community from denigration on account of their gender, race, age, disability, occupational status or sexual orientation, or as a consequence of their religious, cultural or political beliefs. In the Authority’s view, square dancers are not an identifiable “section of the community” to which the denigration guideline applies. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the Principle 7 complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
14 August 2006


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

  1. Mike Savill’s formal complaint – 6 June 2006
  2. The Radio Network Ltd’s decision on the formal complaint – 20 June 2006
  3. Mr Savill’s referral to the Authority – 23 June 2006
  4. TRN’s response to the Authority – 3 July 2006