BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Watkins and The RadioWorks Ltd - 2001-138–204

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • B Hayward
  • R Bryant
  • J H McGregor
Dated
Complainant
  • R K Watkins
Number
2001-138–204
Broadcaster
The RadioWorks Ltd
Channel/Station
The Rock # 3

An Explanatory Note on these decisions can be found after the Appendices.


Complaint
The Rock a number of complaints – offensive language – breach of good taste and decency – broadcasts inconsistent with maintenance of law and order – denigration of women, children, homosexuals, elderly – discrimination against women, children, homosexuals, elderly – broadcaster not mindful of effects of broadcasts on children in the listening audience

Findings
(1) 17 October broadcast – decline to determine

(2) 18 October broadcast – no uphold

(3) 19 October broadcast – poem about necrophilia – Principle 1 – uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for
      children – uphold

(4) 14 November broadcast - 6.28am – no uphold

(5) 14 November broadcast – 7.10am – decline to determine

(6) 14 November broadcast – 7.29am – no uphold

(7) 14 November broadcast – 8.26am – no uphold

(8) 15 November broadcast – no uphold

(9) 16 November broadcast – no uphold

(10) 17 November broadcast – 7.38am – no uphold

(11) 17 November broadcast – 7.46am – no uphold

(12) 17 November broadcast – 7.53am – no uphold

(13) 17 November broadcast – 7.59am – majority – no uphold

(14) 21 November broadcast – no uphold

(15) 22 November broadcast – 6.38am – "true tranny" story – Principle 1 – uphold

(16) 22 November broadcast – 6.49am – story about woman and dog – Principle 1 – uphold

(17) 23 November broadcast – 7.32am – repetitive use of phrase "Fuck-atane" – Principle 1 – uphold –
       Principle 7 – uphold

(18) 23 November broadcast – 8.05am – decline to determine

(19) 24 November broadcast – 6.59am – no uphold

(20) 24 November broadcast – 7.10am – decline to determine

(21) 24 November broadcast – 8.32am – no uphold

(22) 27 November broadcast –elderly woman a "silly old bitch" – denigration of elderly – unsuitable for 
       children – Principle 7 – uphold

(23) 28 November broadcast – 7.38am – joke about disabled woman getting children out of bath –
       Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(24) 29 November broadcast – 7.30am – no uphold

(25) 29 November broadcast – 7.41am – story about newlyweds from Katikati – incest – Principle 1 –
       uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(26) 30 November broadcast – Kermit "really fucked up" – Principle 1 – uphold

(27) 13 December broadcast – no uphold

(28) 18 December broadcast – 6.32am – reference to "fucking birds" – Principle 1 – uphold

(29) 18 December broadcast – 8.15am – story about mail-order bride from Thailand – Principle 1 –
       uphold – Principle 7 – encouraged denigration of Thai women – unsuitable for children – uphold

(30) 18 December broadcast – 9.44am – majority – no uphold

(31) 18 December broadcast – 9.48am – majority – no uphold

(32) 19 December broadcast – 7.32am – majority – no uphold

(33) 19 December broadcast – 7.52am – reference to "motherfuckers" and sexual activity with
       13-years-olds – Principle 1 – uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(34) 19 December broadcast – 8.17am – no uphold

(35) 19 December broadcast - 8.29am – joke about "meanest roughest toughest whore" – Principle 1 –
       uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(36) 19 December broadcast – 8.35am – decline to determine

(37) 17 January broadcast – "Things You Don’t Want to Hear on a First Date" – Principle 1 – uphold –
       Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(38) 18 January broadcast – "Lies Porno Films Would Have You Believe" – Principle 1 – uphold –
       Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(39) 19 January broadcast – 7.18am – no uphold

(40) 19 January broadcast – 8.12am – story about vomit on windscreen – gratuitous use of word "fucking"
        – Principle 1 – uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(41) 22 January broadcast – joke about farmer beating his wife – references to bestiality and violence
       against women – Principle 1 – uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – uphold

(42) 23 January broadcast – no uphold

(43) 24 January broadcast – no uphold

(44) 29 January broadcast – no uphold

(45) 30 January broadcast – 8.14am – no uphold

(46) 30 January broadcast – 8.51am – no uphold

(47) 5 February broadcast – 7.58am – majority – no uphold

(48) 5 February broadcast – 7.49am – decline to determine

(49) 7 February broadcast – 6.55am – no uphold

(50) 7 February broadcast – 7.32am – no uphold

(51) 9 February broadcast – 7.13am – no uphold

(52) 9 February broadcast – 7.15am – no uphold

(53) 12 February broadcast – story about man bathing in excrement – Principle 1 – uphold

(54) 14 February broadcast – 6.45am – decline to determine

(55) 14 February broadcast – 7.06am – no uphold

(56) 15 February broadcast – no uphold

(57) 16 February broadcast – 6.09am – no uphold

(58) 16 February broadcast - 6.38am – no uphold;

(59) 16 February broadcast – 6.49am – no uphold;

(60) 16 February broadcast – 7.53am – decline to determine

(61) 19 February broadcast – 6.51am – sodomy story – Principle 1 – uphold – Principle 7 –
       unsuitable for children – majority – uphold

(62) 19 February broadcast – 7.10am – story about woman with vibrating cellphone stuck in rectum –
       Principle 1 – no uphold – Principle 7 – unsuitable for children – majority – uphold

(63) 20 February broadcast – 6.34am – story about man with "filthy balls" – Principle 1 – uphold

(64) 20 February broadcast – 6.37am – no uphold

(65) 20 February broadcast – 6.49am – no uphold

(66) 20 February broadcast – 7.38am – no uphold

(67) 21 February broadcast – joke about Little Johnny "screwing his grandmother" – Principle 1 – uphold

Cross-references
Decision Nos: 2000-182–191, 2001-071–084

Order
Total costs to the Crown in the sum of $24,500

 This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

R K Watkins complained to The RadioWorks Ltd about morning broadcasts on The Rock on: 17, 18 and 19 October 2000; 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29 and 30 November 2000; 13, 18, and 19 December 2000; 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 January 2001; and, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20 and 21 February 2001. She complained that aspects of each of the broadcasts breached standards relating to good taste and decency, the maintenance of law and order, and social responsibility.

The RadioWorks declined to uphold any of the complaints, mainly on the basis that the items complained about were "legitimate attempts at humour" permitted under the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

Dissatisfied with The RadioWorks’ decisions, R K Watkins referred the complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. In respect of a number of items for which she did not receive a response from The RadioWorks, Ms Watkins referred the complaints to the Authority under section 8(1)(b) of the Act.

For the reasons given below, the Authority upholds some aspects of the complaints relating to breaches of Principles 1 and 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. It orders the broadcaster to pay total costs to the Crown in the sum of $24,500.00.

Decision

The members of the Authority have read the correspondence listed in the appendices. In relation to the complaints for which The RadioWorks provided tapes, the members have listened to and read transcripts of the items complained about. The Authority determines these complaints without a formal hearing.

The Complaints

R K Watkins complained to The RadioWorks about morning broadcasts on The Rock on 17, 18 and 19 October 2000; 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29 and 30 November 2000; 13, 18, and 19 December 2000; 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 January 2001; and, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20 and 21 February 2001.

For ease of reference in making its findings on these complaints, the Authority has numbered each of the 67 items complained about in chronological order based on the date and time of broadcast.

The aspects of the broadcasts Ms Watkins complained about were:

1. 17 October at 8.47am – a DJ recited a poem entitled "Women". Ms Watkins complained that the entire poem was a "gratuitous put down of all women in general, but in particular those who attain equal rights with men". One line of the poem stated that women were only good for "rooting", and the poem concluded with the line, "If they [women] did not drop their pants, you [men] would hunt them down and shoot them". (2001-138)

2. 18 October at 7.33am – referring to a British survey on the IQ levels of children aged 7-14 years, in what Ms Watkins described as a "forceful verbal attack" one of the DJs said, "There are some stupid little bastards who don’t even know what an ‘acorn’ is". Ms Watkins complained that the DJ made "a habit" of describing children as "little pricks" and "little bastards". (2001-139)

3. 19 October at 8.36am – a DJ read out a listener’s poem, which according to the complainant had been written in response to the DJ’s anti-women poem broadcast two days earlier. Ms Watkins said the poem went:

            "There was a man named Dave,
            Who dug a whore up from her grave,
            She was as mouldy as shit,
            And missing one tit,
            But think of the money he saved"
.  (2001-140)

4. 14 November at 6.28am – a DJ told a joke about "Paddy and Murphy", Irishmen who cut off the heads of Red Indians. The punch-line was, "Fuck me, we’re going to be millionaires". (2001-141)

5. 14 November at 7.10am – listeners were invited to call the station to correctly answer the morning’s "bastard of a teaser" competition. One of the DJs explained to the first caller that the answer wasn’t "porking some chap’s chick". Ms Watkins complained that the call was immediately followed with a call from a young child. She said children regularly called the station to win prizes, in spite of The RadioWorks’ argument that The Rock’s target audience was 18-39 year old males. (2001-142)

6. 14 November at 7.29am – one of the DJs played a fictional character called "Simon" who was supposed to be the voice of a five-year-old calling the station to speak to another of the DJs. "Simon" said, "The blonde lady with big tits" and "the blonde lady with big breasts" and "the blonde lady with big nungas" and "nunga, nunga, nunga, nunga! I’m going to say that at school today". (2001-143)

7. 14 November at 8.26am – a DJ announced that the morning’s theme would be "nungas" and proceeded to play a song entitled "Itty Bitty Titties". According to Ms Watkins, the lyrics included the phrase, "If you want yourself a girl with a tight little kitty, you better find yourself a girl with itty bitty titties". (2001-144)

8. 15 November at 7.14am – in a discussion with a caller about the appropriate punishment for a child who stole a can of Coke from a dairy, the first DJ recalled a "hiding from hell" to which the second DJ responded, "your arse would be seven different shades of blue". Ms Watkins complained that the first DJ responded "scornfully and sarcastically" that "these days you’d go to your room for ‘time-out’ for 10 minutes", to which she said the second DJ screamed, "Bring back smacking!" (2001-145)

9. 16 November at 7.09am – referring to the latest cover of a women’s magazine, the complainant said one of the DJs told listeners he could not understand how such a beautiful television presenter could have such an unattractive child. The other DJ said he hoped the child’s parents, both high-profile television presenters, were not listening, and the first DJ said he didn’t think they would be. (2001-146)

10. 17 November at 7.38am – reading out Day 11 of "Big Brother", a DJ said, "Genna is visibly depressed and is comforted by Gerard [who the complainant said referred to The RadioWorks’ Networks Operations Manager] who tries to touch her on the clitoris". Ms Watkins complained that earlier in the broadcast the DJ had told listeners planning to visit the Big Brother website to type in the word "clitoris" when asked for the name of a woman’s body part. (2001-147)

11. 17 November at 7.46am – Ms Watkins complained that a fictional character played by one of the DJs recited "yet another joke" ending with the words "stupid bitch". The complainant said when the DJ referred to "stupid bitches" in his jokes, he did so in a "vicious manner devoid of all humour". (2001-148)

12. 17 November at 7.53am – reading out Day 17 of "Big Brother", Ms Watkins complained that one of the DJs said, "The public vote Gerard out of the house. Gen is gutted and gives Gerard a clipping of hair from her clitoris to prove how much she cares". (2001-149)

13. 17 November at 7.59am – reading out Day 25 of "Big Brother", one of the DJs said, "Roger becomes the first housemate to have a wank. This footage goes down well with the psychologist, who claims it gives true insight into the working of Roger’s mind. In other words, he’s a wanker". (2001-150)

14. 21 November at 6.30am – a DJ told a "joke" about a husband who went to his doctor saying his wife no longer gave him an erection. The doctor told the man to come back with his wife and, after telling her to remove all her clothes, the doctor took the husband aside and said, "There’s nothing wrong with you. She doesn’t give me an erection either". (2001-151)

15. 22 November at 6.38am – a DJ told a "true tranny story from Morrinsville" about a bus load of rugby players who picked up a "pretty little thing" of a hitchhiker who gave each of the men a "blowie". When let off the bus, she waved goodbye and lifted up her skirt to reveal "one meat and two vege". (2001-152)

16. 22 November at 6.49am – the DJ told another "true story from Morrinsville" about a woman who took her dog and a tin of jellymeat into the basement where she "spread the meat on her bits so the dog could lick it off". (2001-153)

17. 23 November at 7.32am – a DJ decided if he attached the sound "a-tane" to the end of the word "fuck" he could use the word as much as he liked on air. He said, "I’d like to work on Fuck-atane FM", to which the other DJ responded, "No such station". The first DJ said, "I know, I just like saying Fuck-atane." According to the complainant, he proceeded to do on two additional occasions, at 7.34am and 7.44am. (2001-154)

18. Ms Watkins complained that The Rock was strictly suited to an adult audience, yet it continually invited child listeners by including children in its "morning birthday calls". She gave the example of the name of an eight year old boy being read out at 8.05am on 23 November. (2001-155)

19. 24 November at 6.59am – one of the DJs read out several "Dr Ruth" letters from a newspaper, including one which said, "I have one particular fantasy where she pins me to the bed and demands I rub her breasts with baby oil, and it is all the more sexy because this girl has huge boobs". Ms Watkins complained that 10 minutes later a 13-year-old boy called the station for a competition give away. (2001-156)

20.  24 November at 7.10am – two DJs had a lengthy conversation with a 13-year-old boy, who they encouraged to call back again

21. 24 November at 8.32am – a DJ played a tape recording of "fat Gary" and two girls having sex in the back of The Rock’s ambulance, which was touring the country with "naughty nurses" giving away stickers and condoms. (2001-158)

22. 27 November at 8.09am – one of the DJs read out a letter to the editor from a newspaper, in which an elderly woman said she was annoyed at a television station for replacing the six o’clock news with motor racing. Ms Watkins complained that the DJ read out the woman’s full name and the town in which she lived, and what she described as a "vicious verbal attack" then said, "Stupid old bitch! And that’s another reason they [the elderly] should be all stuck in homes". (2001-159)

23. 28 November at 7.38am – a fictional character played by one of the DJs told a joke about two brothers who, while undergoing a physical examination to join the army, surprised the doctor with their "incredibly long oversized dongers". When questioned, the brothers explained that as young children their mother, who only had one arm, "had to manage as best she could when it came to lifting us out of the bathtub". (2001-160)

24. 29 November at 7.30am - one of the DJs, playing a fictional child character, told the other DJ, "Last weekend my dad was having a beer with my 40-year-old uncle Graeme and he asked him what his new 22-year-old girlfriend was like in the sack. My uncle Graeme said they ‘did it nearly every night of the week’". (2001-161)

25. 29 November at 7.41am - a fictional character played by one of the DJs told a joke about newlyweds from Katikati on their honeymoon night. The bride told her husband she was a virgin. Shocked by this, her husband phoned his father for advice, and was told, "Well, you better come home son. If she’s not good enough for her own family, she ain’t good enough for ours". (2001-162)

26. 30 November at 6.45am – a recording was played of Kermit the Frog and Big Bird holding a conversation while stoned. To the tune of Sesame Street, Kermit said, "I am really fucked up Big Bird". Big Bird responded, "Today’s letter is ‘joint’, today’s number is three, and that is how many joints I have smoked today". (2001-163)

27. 13 December at 6.33am – one of the DJs told a "joke" about a man who bought a parrot with no feet. The parrot held onto its perch with its "pecker". The punchline was the parrot getting a "hard-on" from watching his owner’s wife with another man, and then falling off its perch. (2001-164)

28. 18 December at 6.32am – a DJ told a joke about a "redneck and his dog", with the punchline being, "There are so many fucking birds in that wood, you could beat them with a stick." (2001-165)

29. 18 December at 8.15am - a fictional character played by one of the DJs told the other DJ that his mail-order bride from Thailand, who was called "Comelicky", had left him. He said, "Yeah, the bloody bitch!" The fictional character then told a "joke" about having sex with a "fat chick". He asked if he could switch the light off, not because he was self-conscious, but because "it was burning my arse". (2001-166)

30. 18 December at 9.44am – one of the DJs read out a product list from a Playboy magazine. He said, "Here is something for the man who has everything - the ‘pussy-snorkel’". Describing its tubes and how it was worn, he said, "It allows a man to continue breathing while performing oral sex". The other DJ was heard grunting loudly in the background. (2001-167)

31. 18 December at 9.48am – continuing to laugh about the pussy-snorkel item, the other DJ said, "Well, you just can’t top the pussy-snorkel (grunt, grunt) - have you ordered one yet?" (2001-168)

32. 19 December at 7.32am – a fictional child character played by one of the DJs called the other DJ, "Wanker!" (2001-169)

33. 19 December at 7.52am – the two DJs interviewed three male actors from the film Stickmen. Ms Watkins complained that the conversation quickly revolved around sex scenes, and quoted:

         Actor 1:         "It doesn’t have any 13-year-old girls spreading their legs ..."

         Actor 2:         "We did try to get those in there!"

         DJ:                "Is she [an actress] your bitch?"

                               ... [huge laughter] ...

         Actor 3:         "... opening frame in the film, Bobby taking her from behind ..."

        DJ, laughing:   "Chalking his cue!"

         Actor 3:         "Yeah, she loved every minute ..."

         DJ:                "Do you get to see her titties?"

       Actor:              "The great pool players who are bad motherfuckers ".

       DJ: [realising the word "motherfuckers" had gone on air]
                              "Well, it wasn’t either you [referring to the other DJ] or I who said it, so 
                              that’s alright". (2001-170)

34. 19 December at 8.17am – one of the DJs, unaware that his microphone was switched on, shouted "Wanker!" (2001-171)

35. 19 December at 8.29am – a fictional character played by one of the DJs told a "joke" about a gold-miner who paid for sex with the "meanest roughest toughest whore". He said, "She stripped naked, bent over and grabbed her ankles, and I said, "How do you know I want to do it in that position?", and the whore said, "I don’t, I thought you might like to open those beers first". (2001-172)

36. 19 December at 8.35am – one of the DJs read out the name of a four-year-old boy, saying, "Happy Birthday from Mummy and ..." Ms Watkins complained that the station, while fully aware that a young child was waiting by the radio to hear his name read out, allowed "wanker", "mother-fucker", "bitch", "whore", and other explicit language to go to air. (2001-173)

37. 17 January at 8.38am – one of the DJs read a list of "The Things You Don’t Want to Hear on a First Date". (2001-174)

38. 18 January at 8.25am - one of the DJs read from a magazine, "The Lies Porno Films Would Have You Believe".(2001-175)

39. 19 January at 7.18am – a fictional character said, "Oh Julie, stop touching yourself. Can someone get a towel please". (2001-176)

40. 19 January at 8.12am – a recording was played of a comedian talking about how much he hated people who vomited on his car windscreen, with his mates having to "piss on it" so that the wipers would work. He said, "Then you get in your car and find your windscreen leaks. I fucking hate that!" (2001-177)

41. 22 January at 8.31am – a DJ told a joke about a farmer who was asked if he would beat his wife the way he beats his sheep. He said, "If she kept farting and jumping sideways while I tried to hump her, I would." (2001-178)

42. 23 January at 6.32am – one of the DJs read a letter from Penthouse magazine from a man who had exposed his genitals expecting his date to perform oral sex on him, but instead was caught by his date’s mother. (2001-179)

43. 24 January at 6.38am – one of the DJs, referring to a female newsreader, began panting and said, "I think I’ll start rubbing myself". (2001-180)

44. 29 January at 6.15am – a recording of "Elmer Fudd Reads Porno" was played, followed by a "warning" jingle. (2001-181)

45. 30 January at 8.14am – a recording from "South Park" was played. Ms Watkins said she could not understand why The RadioWorks believed the timeslot appropriate, when TV4 screened the programme at the later viewing time of 9.30pm. (2001-182)

46. 30 January at 8.51am – the two DJs discussed a "football helmet give-away". One of the DJs said, "You’d get your fist into one wouldn’t you?", to which the other asked, "What are you talking about?" The first DJ responded, "The helmet, [name of DJ]", to which the other said, "Britney Spears again [name of DJ]". (2001-183)

47. 5 February at 7.58am – a fictional character played by one of the DJs told a "joke" about two homosexuals in a sauna. One man asked the other if he could feel his thumb up his behind. (2001-184)

48. 5 February at 7.49am – Ms Watkins complained that The Rock increasingly allowed children to participate in on air competitions, and cited an example of a young child calling the station. (2001-185)

49. 7 February at 6.55am – during a "Rumble World News" item, one of the DJs said criminals had access to everything "these days" - "cellphones, computers, probably blow-up dolls with artificial vibrating vaginas". (2001-186)

50. 7 February at 7.32am – a child fictional caller played by one of the DJs told the other DJ, "My dad says that you guys snort cocaine, and he said that all the people at TVNZ who get paid $100,000 stick it [cocaine] up their nose". The fictional child caller then asked, "Do I win a pallet of beer?" (2001-187)

51. 9 February at 7.13am – one of the DJs made derogatory remarks about New Zealand model Robin Reynolds. Ms Watkins complained that over the preceding few months the DJ had made "a habit" of ridiculing Ms Reynolds on air, referring to her as a "whore", "slapper", and "looking like a transvestite". In this instance, she complained that the DJ told the other DJ what he thought about her nipples. He said, "I feel sorry for her children", and "kids, your mother’s a slut!" (2001-188)

52. 9 February at 7.15am – one of the DJs announced that the station had just received a message from the Police warning women that a man claimed to be conducting a door to door survey was not who he said he was. The DJ said, "So, don’t show him your tits". (2001-189)

53. 12 February at 6.34am – in an item about a man who won a competition to meet Ricky Martin by bathing in excrement, one of the DJs said, "Let’s think about it. The guy would do anything for a chance to meet Ricky Martin, so he’s obviously gay. And being gay, in order to bath in a tub full of shit, one would simply imagine oneself as a giant penis". (2001-190)

54. 14 February at 6.45am – one of the DJs previewed a "Rumble World News" item, in which a league coach was reported to have taken eight-year-olds to a "titty bar". The DJ asked, "Something wrong with that?" Ms Watkins complained that the item was followed by another item about high-school boys who sodomised a teammate with a tampon. (2001-191)

55. 14 February at 7.06am – a news item was read about an orgy taking place in an old people’s home. (2001-192)

56. 15 February at 6.32am – one of the DJs told a "joke" about an Australian who said, "in Australia the women have pussies this big". (2001-193)

57. 16 February at 6.09am – one of the DJs, taking about actress Heather Graham on "method acting" tips, said, "Before she auditioned for parts, she’d get the old finger in there and give it a bit of a turn ... God bless H G, and women who do". (2001-194)

58. 16 February at 6.38am – one of the DJs talked about the "porn and chicken club" at Yale University, and a female student who participated in filming pornographic films. (2001-195)

59. 16 February at 6.49am – one of the DJs, previewing the "Rumble World News", said, "Sixteen blokes survive on one chick’s breast milk for 12 days." A report about a breast-feeding mother and 16 people who had been lost at sea in the Dominican Republic with no food or water followed the comment. (2001-196)

60. 16 February at 7.53am – Ms Watkins complained about "yet another incredibly young child" calling the station. (2001-197)

61. 19 February at 6.51am – a "Rumble World News" item about a stag party, where the groom received internal injuries after being sodomised with a pool cue, was followed by one of the DJs telling a personal story about attending a stag party where an Indian man was also violated with a pool cue. (2001-198)

62. 19 February at 7.10am – one of the DJs told a "true story" about a woman who had been hospitalised with a vibrating cellphone stuck in her rectum. (2001-199)

63. 20 February at 6.34am – one of the DJs told the "Morning Shocker of a Joke" about a man who visited the doctor with "filthy balls" and returned home to consult his wife, who claimed to have been so busy that she had no time to wipe herself. (2001-200)

64. 20 February at 6.37am – an item was devoted to a man who had had his penis amputated and surgically replaced with his middle finger. (2001-201)

65. 20 February at 6.49am – previewing the "Rumble World News", one of the DJs said, "Women, don’t eat your husband’s testes, and a story about a woman who lets her 11-year-old daughter have sex." (2001-202)

66. 20 February at 7.38am – one of the DJs quoted a British tabloid journalist who had described Geri Halliwell’s breasts as resembling "square shaped pig’s snouts".(2001-203)

67. 21 February at 6.30am – one of the DJs told the "Morning Shocker" joke about Little Johnny "screwing his grandmother". (2001-204)

The Standards  

Ms Watkins complained that the items referred to above breached standards relating to good taste and decency and social responsibility, and that aspects of the broadcasts also breached standards relating to the maintenance of law and order. She asked that her complaints be assessed under the following standards contained in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice:

Principle 1

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

Guidelines

1a  Broadcasters will take into consideration current norms of decency and good taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs and the wider context of the broadcast (eg time of day, target audience).

Principle 2

In programmes and their presentation, broadcasters are required to maintain standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Guidelines

2a  Care should be taken in broadcasting items which explain the technique of crime in a manner which invites imitation.

Principle 7

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

Guidelines

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.

7b  Broadcasters shall be mindful of the effect any programme may have on children during their normally accepted listening times.

7c  The time of transmission is an important consideration in the scheduling of programmes which contain violent themes.

7d  If a programme is likely to disturb, an appropriate warning should be broadcast.

The Broadcaster's Responses to the Complainant

The RadioWorks declined to uphold any of Ms Watkins’ complaints. It maintained that the items complained about were "legitimate attempts at humour" permitted under Guideline 7a of Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

In relation to the 17 October item, the broadcaster said it could not locate a recording and suggested the complainant recheck her own recordings.

In relation to the 27 November item, the broadcaster said it had spoken to the announcer concerned who had agreed to use "less expressive" language in the future. It maintained, however, that the expression was the announcer’s genuine opinion, permitted under Guideline 7a of Principle 7 of the Radio Code.

With regard to the expression "motherfuckers" in the item broadcast at 7.52am on 19 December, The RadioWorks noted that the expression had been used by a studio guest. It apologised to the complainant, stating it was "not the policy of the radio station announcers" to use such language, and that the expression had taken the announcers by surprise.

The RadioWorks did not respond to Ms Watkins in relation to the complaints about the items broadcast on 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 November.

The Complainant's Referrals to the Authority

Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s responses to her complaints, Ms Watkins referred them to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. Ms Watkins referred her complaints about the items broadcast on 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 November under section 8(1)(b) of the Act, on the basis that the broadcaster had not responded within the statutory 20 working days.

The Broadcaster's Responses to the Authority

In its responses to the Authority, the broadcaster maintained its argument that the items complained about were "legitimate attempts at humour" permitted under the Radio Code. It said the humour used on each occasion was humour used by The Rock’s target audience of 18-39 year old males. The broadcaster said:

 We believe this large sector of the community do not believe that these broadcasts transgress their standards.

The broadcaster said on each occasion Ms Watkins had been the only person to lodge a complaint. It said:

She is not of the target audience and hence does not appreciate the humour that is common to this sector of the community. We acknowledge that in some instances she may be offended. For this we apologise.

The RadioWorks responded to the Authority that it had no record of having received the complaints about the items broadcast on 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 November. Due to the time lapse, it no longer held recordings of those items, it said. The broadcaster said it "assume[d] a position of guilt, despite having nothing of actual substance to refer to".

In relation to the complaints about the items broadcast on 27, 28, 29 and 30 November, and on 13, 18 and 19 December, The RadioWorks did not respond to the Authority, and did not provide tapes.

In relation to the complaints about the items broadcast on 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 January, and on 5, 7 and 9 February, The RadioWorks referred the Authority to its lengthy submission made in relation to a number of Ms Watkins’ earlier complaints against The Rock: see Decision Nos: 2001-071 to 2001-084 for a full summary of the submission (the essence of which was that the broadcasts were justified by the right to freedom of expression enshrined in section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990). The RadioWorks provided tapes of the broadcasts in question.

The RadioWorks did not respond to the Authority in relation to the complaints about the items broadcast on 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20 and 21 February.

The Complainant's Final Comments

Ms Watkins responded to the Authority that she did not accept that The RadioWorks was unable to locate a tape of the 17 October broadcast. She said:

I have been most diligent with my accuracy of dates and times and conclude that The RadioWorks simply chose not to provide the Broadcasting Standards Authority with this particular item.

She said the item, which she presumed had been written by the announcer, "carried a strong message that it is not only acceptable for men to use extreme violence in order to gain sexual gratification, but that it is also humorous".

Ms Watkins said use of the word "fuck" was "in complete defiance of previous supposed verbal warnings," which indicated to her that the verbal warnings which The RadioWorks said it gave its announcers were "completely fabricated".

In relation to the conversation with a caller about smacking children, Ms Watkins said it was not the first time the announcers had taken a "flippant approach" to discussing the physical punishment of children. She said:

Taking into account the current climate of child abuse and numbers of New Zealand children who are dying due to, quote, "hidings from hell", and the mounting pressure on the government to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, I am adamant that this – and other comments like it – are an appalling breach of the good taste standard.

Ms Watkins said she did not accept that The RadioWorks had no record of having received her complaints about the items broadcast on 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 November. She said it was not her responsibility to provide the Authority with tapes of the broadcasts complained about. In addition, her written version of the items did "no justice at all to the offensive and distasteful manner in which the comments, remarks and jokes were made on air".

Ms Watkins asked the Authority to take into account the time of the broadcasts, and The RadioWorks’ "lack of regard towards children within the listening audience". She said the item broadcast on 24 November at 8.32am (of a staff member of The Rock and two nurses having sex in the back of an ambulance) was "one of the worst examples I have heard on this station of explicit material that should not be aired before 9.00am when children are likely to be listening".

The Authority’s Determination

In this Decision, the Authority must consider whether each of the 67 separate items complained about breached broadcasting standards. As it is required to do, the Authority has considered each of the complaints separately, against the standards nominated by the complainant. Where tapes of the broadcasts complained about were provided, the members have listened to those items. They have also read a transcript of the broadcasts for which tapes were provided.

When it began its deliberations on these complaints, the Authority again requested The RadioWorks to respond to it on the complaints for which it had not previously responded, and to provide tapes of those broadcasts. The RadioWorks advised that it could offer no explanation as to why it had not previously responded to the Authority. It maintained its argument that the broadcasts did not breach standards, as it said "in all cases there was a legitimate attempt at humour targeting The Rock’s male 18-39 [year old] audience". The broadcaster explained that it was unable to supply recordings of the broadcasts in question, given the "time lapse". Consequently, in relation to the complaints about the broadcasts on: 27, 28, 29 and 30 November; 13, 18 and 19 December; and 12, 14, 15 and 16 February, the Authority has relied on the complainant’s summaries, which the broadcaster has not challenged. The complainant provided the Authority with a tape of the broadcasts complained about on 19, 20 and 21 February, and the broadcaster has accepted it as an accurate recording.

The Authority reminds the broadcaster of its responsibility under Principle 8 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice to provide a copy of tapes of all open line programmes for a period of 35 days after broadcast and, in the event of a formal complaint, to retain all relevant recordings until the complaint has been finally dealt with. The Authority considers The RadioWorks’ approach to keeping tapes and responding to complaints to be unreliable. It notes that it is no excuse under the Radio Code to be unable to provide tapes due to a "time lapse", when the procedure the Code requires for keeping tapes has not been followed. The Authority also observes that, in spite of maintaining that it had never received the complaints about the 17 November broadcasts, the 17 November items appeared on one of the tapes the broadcaster did provide to the Authority. In the Authority’s view, this discrepancy does nothing for the broadcaster’s credibility.

Before setting out its findings, the Authority records that the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 applies to the exercise of its powers under the Broadcasting Act. The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in section 14 of that Act. In accordance with section 5 of the Bill of Rights, the Authority may limit the right to freedom of expression "only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society".

Because the Broadcasting Act and the codes of broadcasting practice developed under it by broadcasters and approved by the Authority limit the scope of the right to freedom of expression, the Authority is required to interpret and apply broadcasting standards in such a way as to limit the right to freedom of expression to the least possible extent. As the Authority has previously noted (see Decision No: 2001-071/084), terms such as "good taste and decency" and "social responsibility" are open to different interpretations and can be interpreted in as many ways as there are views in the community. Again, the Authority acknowledges that when it interprets these terms, it is required to apply value judgments. The Authority applies its judgment based on the experience and expertise of its members, aided by information provided to the Authority by the parties to complaints, and by the Authority’s research and other relevant material. In doing so, it interprets the standards in a manner which is consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

Although the Authority has considered separately each of the 67 items complained about, in view of the large number of complaints being dealt with in this Decision, for ease of presentation it has grouped its findings into three broad categories. First, there are those complaints which the Authority upholds as a breach of one or more broadcasting standards. Second, there are those complaints which the Authority declines to uphold as breaches of broadcasting standards. Finally, there are a number of complaints which the Authority declines to determine, either because the complaint does not raise a matter of broadcasting standards, or because the Authority does not have enough information to determine the complaint.

Complaints the Authority Upholds

The Authority upholds as a breach of one or more of the broadcasting standards the complaints numbered 3, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, 33, 35, 37, 38, 40, 41, 53, 61, 62, 63 and 67.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 3 as a breach of Principle 1 and Guideline 7b of Principle 7. In Decision Nos: 2001-071/084, when it upheld as a breach of good taste a joke about necrophilia, the Authority commented that it was not tenable for the broadcaster to claim such a joke did not cross the threshold required to be a breach. In its view, the listener’s poem to which Complaint No 3 relates, falls into the same category. The Authority finds the manner in which the poem deals with necrophilia and shows contempt for women to be contrary to accepted norms of decency and good taste. In addition, the Authority finds the time of the poem’s broadcast, at 8.36am when children can reasonably be expected to be in the listening audience, contrary to the requirement in Guideline 7b of Principle 7 that broadcasters be mindful of the effect of their broadcasts on children.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 15 as a breach of good taste. In its view, what is particularly offensive about this "true tranny story from Morrinsville" is the notion of a woman (who then turns out to be a man), being available to provide sexual favours to a bus load of rugby players. Even when it interprets the good taste and decency standard in a manner which least limits the right to freedom of expression, the Authority finds this story a breach of Principle 1.

Similarly, the Authority upholds as a breach of good taste the "true story from Morrinsville" which formed the basis for Complaint No 16. In its view, this story about a woman engaging in sexual activity with a dog clearly crosses the threshold of acceptability and constitutes a breach.

The Authority upholds as a breach of both Principle 1 and Guideline 7b of Principle 7 the DJ’s repetitive use of the phrase "Fuck-atane" about which Complaint No 17 is concerned. In doing so, it notes that in a previous decision (see Decision No: 2000-182/191) it upheld a similar complaint where a caller to the station repeatedly pronounced the place name Whakamarama as "Fuck! amarama". In its view, the use of the word "fuck" in Complaint No 17 is similarly over-emphasised and gratuitous, and cannot be defended in its context. In addition, as the broadcast occurred at 7.32am during children’s normally accepted listening times, the Authority also finds a breach of Guideline 7b to Principle 7.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 22 as a breach of Guidelines 7a and 7b of Principle 7. It upholds the complaint under Guideline 7a because it considers the manner in which the DJ treated the woman encouraged the denigration of the elderly in general, and the named woman in particular, given that her full name and the town in which she lived was read out. Under Guideline 7b, the Authority finds the phrase "Stupid bitch!" unacceptable for broadcast at 8.09am, when children can be expected to be in the listening audience.

Similarly, the Authority upholds as a breach of Guideline 7b of Principle 7 the joke about the disabled woman getting the children out of the bath which formed the basis for Complaint No 23. The Authority considers the broadcaster was not mindful of the effect of its broadcasts on children when telling this joke at 7.38am.

The Authority upholds as a breach of Principle 1 and of Guideline 7b to Principle 7 the story about the newlyweds from Katikati which formed the basis for Complaint No 25. It considers this story, which uses incest as the basis for an attempt at humour, unacceptable in terms of current norms of good taste and decency. By telling such a story at 7.41am, the broadcaster was also clearly not being mindful of the effect of its broadcasts on children in the listening audience.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 26 as a breach of Principle 1. In this complaint, Muppet character Kermit is heard telling Big Bird that he is "really fucked up". Particularly in the context of a song based on a children’s television programme, the Authority finds the use of this word breaches the requirement for broadcasters to maintain standards consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Similarly, the Authority upholds Complaint No 28, with its reference to "fucking birds", as a breach of Principle 1. It observes here the complaints numbered 26 and 28 are saved from being upheld as breaches of Principle 7 only because, in the Authority’s view, the offending words were broadcast too early in the morning to have had any measurable impact on children.

The Authority upholds as a breach of Principle 1, and of Guidelines 7a and 7b of Principle 7, the reference to the mail-order bride from Thailand which is the subject of Complaint No 29. It considers references to the woman as "Comelicky" and a "bloody bitch" breach the requirement for broadcasters to observe current norms of good taste and decency. Furthermore, it considers the broadcast encouraged denigration of Thai women so as to breach Guideline 7a, and its time of broadcast at 8.15am is evidence that the broadcast was not mindful of the effect of the broadcast on children in the listening audience.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 33 as a breach of Principle 1 and of Guideline 7b of Principle 7. The Authority acknowledges that the broadcaster apologised to the complainant for allowing the expression "motherfuckers" to go to air, explaining that the expression had been used by a studio guest and had taken its announcers by surprise. The Authority notes, however, that the broadcaster did not uphold the complaint. The Authority stresses that maintaining broadcasting standards is the responsibility of the broadcaster, and broadcasters are responsible for what ultimately goes to air. In this instance, the expression "motherfuckers" goes well beyond current norms of good taste and decency, as do the allusions to sexual activity with 13-year-olds, which the Authority deplores. It finds allowing this broadcast to go to air at 7.52am a breach of Principle 7.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 35 as a breach of Principle 1 and of Guideline 7b of Principle 7. It considers the overtones of sexual violence and contempt for women in this "joke" unacceptable in terms of current norms of good taste and decency, and unacceptable for broadcast at 8.29am.

The Authority upholds as a breach of Principle 1 and of Guideline 7b to Principle 7 the list of "Things You Don’t Want to Hear on a First Date", broadcast at 8.38am on 17 January and forming the subject of Complaint No 37. The full tape of this broadcast included such comments as "Do you mind if we don’t go to a seafood restaurant? I don’t want to be reminded that I have crabs", and "You kiss much better than my dad". In the Authority’s view, the tone and tenor of the entire broadcast was anti-women and, in conjunction with its themes of incest, sexual diseases and anti-homosexuality, it amounts to a clear breach of good taste. Furthermore, the Authority concludes that the broadcast breaches Guideline 7b to Principle 7 given that it took place at 8.38am when many children have not yet left for school.

The Authority also upholds as breaches of Principle 1 and Guideline 7b to Principle 7 the broadcast which forms the basis for Complaint No 38. In this complaint, one of the DJs read from a magazine, "The Lies Porno Films Would Have You Believe". The "lies" included: "If a woman gets busted playing with herself by a strange man she will not scream with embarrassment, but rather insist he have sex with her", and "When making love to a woman from behind men invariably cock one leg up placing a foot on the ground near the woman’s ear as if mounting an invisible horse". In upholding this broadcast as a breach of good taste, the Authority takes into account the tone and tenor of the broadcast, which it considers was gratuitous and had no other purpose than to shock. As the broadcast occurred at 8.25am, the Authority also finds it a breach of the requirement for the broadcaster to be mindful of the effect of its broadcasts on children.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 40 as a breach of Principle 1 and Guideline 7b of Principle 7. In its view, its time of broadcast at 8.12am is incompatible with the broadcaster’s responsibility to be mindful of children. In addition, when it interprets Principle 1 in such a way as to limit the right to freedom of expression to the least possible extent, the Authority considers the story about vomiting and urinating, with its gratuitous use of the word "fucking", a breach of good taste and decency.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 41 as a breach of good taste, and of Guidelines 7a and 7b of Principle 7. The Authority considers this joke, with its themes of bestiality and violence against women, goes beyond the bounds of current norms of good taste. It also considers the joke was sufficiently denigratory of women as to breach Guideline 7a of Principle 7, and its time of broadcast at 8.31am a time at which children would be listening, so as to also breach Guideline 7b.

The Authority finds Complaint No 53 a breach of the good taste requirement in Principle 1. In its view, to link the ideas of homosexuality and excrement in such a manner offends good taste and decency. The Authority, however, declines to uphold the complaint as a breach of Principle 7, because it considers the story’s time of broadcast at 6.34am was too early to be considered a normally accepted listening time for children.

The Authority initially declined to determine Complaint No 61 and Complaint No 62, on the basis that the level of detail provided by the complainant was insufficient to overcome the broadcaster's failure to supply tapes. However, following the issue to the parties of the Authority's Decision in Part, calling for submissions on penalty, the complainant provided the Authority with a tape containing broadcasts of those complaints. The Authority advised the broadcaster that it intended to proceed to determine the complaints for which the complainant had provided a tape.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 61 as a breach of Principle 1, and a majority of the Authority upholds the complaint as a breach of Guideline 7b of Principle 7. The Authority unanimously considers the item, relating to men being sodomised with pool cues, offends good taste and decency. A majority considers its time of broadcast at 6.51am demonstrates the broadcaster was not being mindful of its effect on children. so as to breach Guideline 7b of Principle 7. The minority (Mr Rodney Bryant), however, considers that the time of the broadcast was too early to be considered a normally accepted listening time for children.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 62 as a breach of Guideline 7b of Principle 7. The Authority considers the story, about a woman being hospitalised with a vibrating cellphone stuck in her rectum, was distasteful, but insufficiently so as to constitute a breach of the good taste principle. It considers, however, that its time of broadcast at 7.10am demonstrates the broadcaster was not mindful of the story's effect on children.

The Authority upholds Complaint No 63 as a breach of Principle 1. In its view, "jokes" which associate sex and excrement in such a manner go beyond currently accepted norms of good taste and decency when broadcast on public radio. Again, however, at 6.34am the Authority considers the time of broadcast was too early to constitute a breach of Principle 7.

Finally, the Authority upholds the joke about Little Johnny "screwing his grandmother", which formed the basis for Complaint No 66, as a breach of Principle 1. As it has observed on previous occasions, making jokes out of the theme of incest is almost inevitably contrary to standards of good taste and decency.

Complaints the Authority Declines to Uphold

The Authority declines to uphold as a breach of broadcasting standards the complaints numbered 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 19, 21, 24, 27, 32, 34, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 49, 50, 51, 52, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 64, 65 and 66.

The Authority initially declined to determine the complaints numbered 64, 65 and 66, on the basis that the level of detail provided by the complainant was insufficient to overcome the broadcaster's failure to supply tapes. However, those three complaints were on the tape supplied by the complainant following the call for submissions on penalty. Having had the opportunity to hear the broadcasts, the Authority also declines to uphold those complaints as breaches of broadcasting standards.

It acknowledges the distasteful nature of the subject matter of a number of the complaints it declines to uphold. It also acknowledges that certain members of the community would find some of the broadcasts offensive. In the Authority’s view, however, when it takes into account its obligation to fetter the right to freedom of expression to the least possible extent, none of the items complained about were sufficiently offensive as to constitute a breach of Principle 1. Furthermore, in its view none of the items demonstrated a lack of social responsibility on the part of the broadcaster to the degree required for a breach of Principle 7.

In declining to uphold the complaints as breaches of Principle 1, the Authority has been particularly mindful of the tone and tenor of the broadcasts when considering the context in which the broadcasts occurred. In declining to uphold the complaints as breaches of Principle 7, in the Authority’s assessment a number of the items complained about were broadcast too early to be considered normally accepted listening times for children. Where the broadcasts occurred at a time when children might be expected to be in the listening audience, the Authority considers children would not generally have understood the comments/jokes as envisaged by Principle 7.

A majority of the Authority declines to uphold the complaints numbered 13, 30, 31 and 47 as breaches of broadcasting standards. The minority (Mr Rodney Bryant) upholds each of those complaints as a breach of Principle 1, on the basis that each of the broadcasts is unacceptable in the minority’s assessment of current norms of decency and good taste.

Complaints the Authority Declines to Determine

The Authority declines to determine under section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act the complaints numbered 1, 5, 18, 20, 36, 48, 54 and 60, having taken into account all the circumstances of each complaint. Initially, it also declined to determine the complaints numbered 60, 61, 64, 65 and 66, but following receipt of a tape of those broadcasts from the complainant, it proceeded to determine them.

In relation to Complaint No 1, the Authority notes that the broadcaster disputed that the broadcast occurred at the time and on the date alleged by the complainant. In this instance, and because it does not have the benefit of a full summary of the complaint, the Authority declines to determine the complaint.

With regard to the complaints numbered 5, 18, 20, 36, 48 and 60, the Authority declines to determine the complaints on the basis that they do not raise any issues of broadcasting standards. The ground for each of the six complaints was an example given by the complainant of a child having called the station which, the Authority notes, does not in itself contravene any of the standards.

The Authority declines to determine the Complaints No 54 because it considers the level of detail provided by the complainant insufficient to overcome the failure on the part of the broadcaster to supply tapes.

For the reasons given, the Authority unanimously upholds the complaints that:

  • a broadcast on The Rock on 19 October at 8.36am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 22 November at 6.38am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 22 November at 6.49am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 23 November at 7.32am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 27 November at 8.09am breached Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 28 November at 7.38am breached Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 29 November at 7.41am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 30 November at 6.45am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 18 December at 6.32am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 18 December at 8.15am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 19 December at 7.52am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 19 December at 8.29am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 17 January at 8.38am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 18 January at 8.25am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 19 January at 8.12am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 22 January at 8.31am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 12 February at 6.34am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 19 February at 6.51am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 19 February at 7.10am breached Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 20 February at 6.34am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 21 February at 6.30am breached Principle 1 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice

For the reasons given, a majority of the Authority upholds the complaint that:

a broadcast on The Rock on 19 February at 6.51am breached Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice

A majority of the Authority declines to uphold the complaints that:

  • a broadcast on The Rock on 17 November at 7.59am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 18 December at 9.44am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 18 December at 9.48am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice
  • a broadcast on The Rock on 5 February at 7.58am breached Principle 1 and Principle 7 of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice

The Authority unanimously declines to determine the complaints about broadcasts on The Rock on:

  • 17 October at 8.47am
  • 14 November at 7.10am
  • 23 November at 8.05am
  • 24 November at 7.10am
  • 19 December at 8.17am
  • 5 February at 7.49am
  • 14 February at 6.45am
  • 16 February at 7.53am

The Authority unanimously declines to uphold any other aspect of the complaints.

Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may make orders under s.13 and s.16 of the Broadcasting Act. Accordingly, it invited the parties to make submissions on penalty.

The Submissions

The RadioWorks informed the Authority that its management had taken steps to examine and explain the Authority's decisions to staff at The Rock. The broadcaster advised that a broadcast charter had been drawn up and had been agreed to by staff. It submitted:

The major result of this is a greater understanding of what is considered acceptable, and what is not. It must be noted that there have been no complaints received since the drawing up of this charter. We believe that the radio station is now broadcasting within the requirements of the Broadcasting Codes of Practice and will continue to do so.

We ask the Authority to note the success of the steps taken, the change in broadcast style of the station, and the absence of further complaints before agreement on penalty.

We suggest that the penalties previously imposed on The Rock have been sufficient, and ask for leniency in this instance.

At its request, the broadcaster subsequently supplied the Authority with a copy of the charter, which the Authority copied to the complainant.

In her submission, Ms Watkins suggested that the Authority should not accept the broadcaster's word that anything at The Rock had changed since the Authority's decisions. She said the broadcaster had on several occasions demonstrated that it was untrustworthy and that the action it had taken had been inappropriate.

Ms Watkins enclosed a submission from the Rape Prevention Group Incorporated, which she requested the Authority take into account in determining the level of penalty.

She recommended that the Authority impose the maximum penalty of $5000 for each of the upheld complaints. She also asked the Authority to consider additional penalties against The RadioWorks in each instance where the broadcaster had failed to provide a tape of the item complained about.

Finally, Ms Watkins requested that the Authority award costs to her for the cost and expense she had gone to in providing the Authority with recordings.

In further correspondence, the complainant provided the Authority with her comments on The Rock's broadcast charter. She said:

Having read the Charter, and continued to listen to The Rock between 5.30-9.00am, I can categorically assure the Authority that the broadcasting standards on The Rock have not changed, or improved, since the outcome of the Authority's recent decisions to uphold a series of complaints against the station.

Ms Watkins criticised each aspect of the charter as being insufficient to deal with the nature of the complaints.

Level of Penalty

In determining the appropriate level of penalty, the Authority has taken into consideration the parties' submissions. In so doing, it makes these observations.

Decision No: 2000-182/191 was released on 18 December 2000. Therefore, in relation to all the upheld complaints in this Decision concerning items broadcast prior to that date, the Authority's order for costs is set by reference only to its assessment of the level of seriousness of the breaches.

In relation to the upheld complaints in this Decision concerning items broadcast in January and February 2001, the Authority has taken into consideration that the broadcaster had received its December 2000 Decision, and yet continued to breach broadcasting standards. The Authority considers the broadcaster's continued disregard for broadcasting standards warrants a more severe penalty in those instances.

The Authority makes the following order:

Order

Pursuant to section 16(4) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 the Authority orders The RadioWorks Ltd to pay, within one month of the date of this Decision, the sum of $24 ,250 in costs to the Crown. That sum comprises an award of costs of:

  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 19 October at 8.36am
  • $750 in relation to the broadcast on 22 November at 6.38am
  • $1000 in relation to the broadcast on 22 November at 6.49am
  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 23 November at 7.32am
  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 27 November at 8.09am
  • $250 in relation to the broadcast on 28 November at 7.38am
  • $2000 in relation to the broadcast on 29 November at 7.41am
  • $250 in relation to the broadcast on 30 November at 6.45am
  • $250 in relation to the broadcast on 18 December at 6.32am
  • $1750 in relation to the broadcast on 18 December at 8.15am
  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 19 December at 7.52am
  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 19 December at 8.29am
  • $1000 in relation to the broadcast on 17 January at 8.38am
  • $1000 in relation to the broadcast on 18 January at 8.25am
  • $1000 in relation to the broadcast on 19 January at 8.12am
  • $2250 in relation to the broadcast on 22 January at 8.31am
  • $1000 in relation to the broadcast on 12 February at 6.34am
  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 19 February at 6.51am
  • $500 in relation to the broadcast on 19 February at 7.10am
  • $1000 in relation to the broadcast on 20 February at 6.34am
  • $1500 in relation to the broadcast on 21 February at 6.30am

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
22 November 2001

Appendix I  

17, 18 and 19 October, and 14, 15 and 16 November Complaints

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 27 October 2000
  2. R K Watkins’ (2) Formal Complaints to The RadioWorks Ltd – 17 November 2000
  3. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 15 December 2000
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaints – 18 December 2000
  5. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – received by the Authority on 11 January 2001
  6. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 16 February 200
  7. R K Watkins’ Final Comment – 16 March 2001
  8. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  9. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  10. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  11. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001

Appendix II

17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 November Complaints

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd –17 November 2000
  2. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 27 November 2000
  3. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 29 January 2001
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 7 February 2001
  5. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 20 February 2001
  6. R K Watkins’ Final Comment – 16 March 2001
  7. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  8. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  9. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  10. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001

Appendix III

27, 28, 29 and 30 November, and 13 December Complaints

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 21 December 2000
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 8 January 2001
  3. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – received by the Authority on 17 January 2001
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Authority – email received 3 August 2001
  5. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  6. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  7. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  8. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001

Appendix IV

18 and 19 December Complaints

the following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 21 December 2000
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 11 January 2001
  3. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – received by the Authority on 17 January 2001
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Authority – email received 3 August 2001
  5. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  6. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  7. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  8. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001

Appendix V

17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 January Complaints

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 29 January 2001
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – undated
  3. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 9 March 2001
  4. The RadioWork’s Response to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – received by the Authority on 20 March 2001
  5. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  6. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  7. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  8. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001

Appendix VI

29 and 30 January, and 5, 7 and 9 February Complaints

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 14 February 2001
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 20 February 2001
  3. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 9 March 2001
  4. The RadioWork’s Response to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – received by the Authority on 20 March 2001
  5. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  6. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  7. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  8. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001

Appendix VII

12, 14, 16, 19, 20 and 21 February Complaints

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined these complaints:

  1. R K Watkins’ Formal Complaint to The RadioWorks Ltd – 28 February 2001
  2. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Formal Complaint – 13 March 2001
  3. R K Watkins’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 16 March
  4. The RadioWorks’ Response to the Authority – email received 3 August 2001
  5. The RadioWorks' Submission on Penalty – 20 September 2001
  6. The RadioWorks' Further Correspondence, including The Rock's Charter – 12 October 2001
  7. R K Watkins' Submission on Penalty, including a Submission from the Rape Prevention Group Inc – 12 October 2001
  8. R K Watkins' Final Comments on The Rock's Charter – 31 October 2001


22 November 2001

Decision Nos: 2001-138 to 2001-204  Explanatory Note

This is the Authority’s Decision in relation to complaints from R K Watkins against The RadioWorks Ltd about 67 separate items broadcast on The Rock in October, November and December 2000, and January and February 2001.

The Authority has upheld as breaches of broadcasting standards 21 of the complaints. Having considered submissions on penalty from the parties, the Authority orders The RadioWorks to pay the sum of $24,500 in costs to the Crown.

The complaints were upheld as breaches of Principle 1 or Principle 7, or both, of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. Those principles relate to good taste and decency, and to the requirement for broadcasters to be socially responsible, especially in relation to denigrating sectors of the community, or not being mindful of children’s normally accepted listening times.

In determining the appropriate level of penalty, the Authority has taken into consideration the parties' submissions. It also observes that, on 18 December 2000, it released a decision dealing with 10 complaints about The Rock, of which seven were upheld.

Therefore, in relation to all the upheld complaints in this Decision concerning items broadcast prior to 18 December 2000, the Authority's order for costs is set by reference only to its assessment of the level of seriousness of the breaches.

In relation to the upheld complaints in this Decision concerning items broadcast in January and February 2001, the Authority has taken into consideration that the broadcaster had received its December 2000 Decision, and yet continued to breach broadcasting standards. The Authority considers the broadcaster's continued disregard for broadcasting standards warrants a more severe penalty in those instances.

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair