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Ward and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-021

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Peter Ward
Number
2013-021
Programme
Seven Sharp promo
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Seven Sharp – in reference to the ongoing Novopay debacle, the presenter stated, “how many of us still give a toss?” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency standard

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – Authority declines to determine the complaint on the basis it is frivolous in accordance with section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  A promo for Seven Sharp, a New Zealand current affairs and entertainment show, contained the following dialogue:

Presenter 1:     Happy six-month anniversary, Novopay. Look at you, you’ve been an
                       absolute dream come true [sarcastic voice].

Presenter 2:     Yes, it’s the relationship from hell for teachers and the pay system, but be
                       honest, how many of us still give a toss?

Presenter 1:      Is it dangerous to be so apathetic towards the people moulding our kids?

[2]  The promo was broadcast at about 6.50pm during One News which was unclassified, on 5 March 2013 on TV One.

[3]  Peter Ward made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging the presenter’s use of the word “toss” was offensive because in his view it to referred to “tossing” which was a “euphemism for masturbating”.

[4]  The issue is whether the promo breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

Does the broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[6]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[7]  We have reached the view that it is appropriate for us to decline to determine this complaint under section 11(a), on the basis it is frivolous, meaning “not serious or sensible, or even silly”.2  To not “give a toss” is a well-known colloquial expression meaning to “not care about something”,3  and this was clearly the manner in which the phrase was used here. The point being made by the presenter was that the ongoing problems with Novopay were no longer of interest to the public, and reasonable viewers would have understood this.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
3 September 2013

Appendix

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

1           Peter Ward’s formal complaint – 5 March 2013

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 22 March 2013

3          Mr Ward’s referral to the Authority – 3 April 2013

4          TVNZ’s response to the Authority –  6 June 2013


1Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)

2Ibid.

3http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/toss