BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Williams and The Radio Network Ltd - 2014-019

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Mandy Williams
Number
2014-019
Channel/Station
ZM

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The hosts of the Jay, Flynny and Zoe Marshall show made comments that Chihuahuas look like ‘ball bags’ and ‘a scrotum with four legs’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that these comments breached standards of good taste and decency. They were clearly intended to be humorous, and while children could have been listening at 3.25pm, they would not have offended most listeners taking into account relevant contextual factors, including the station’s target audience and the expectations of regular listeners.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  During the Jay, Flynny and Zoe Marshall show, the hosts commented on a listener’s text message about their pet Chihuahua, saying, ‘[Chihuahuas] are like a little skin ball bag thing, aren’t they…?’, and, ‘They are a scrotum with four legs, those dogs’. The comments were broadcast on ZM at about 3.25pm on Tuesday 4 February 2014.

[2]  Mandy Williams made a formal complaint to The Radio Network Ltd (TRN), alleging that the hosts’ comments about ‘hairy scrotums’ were ‘crude’ and unacceptable for broadcast at a time when children could be listening in the car on their way home from school.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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

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

[5]  The good taste and decency standard is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2

[6]  TRN argued that the comments were acceptable in context. Specifically, it described ZM as an ‘edgy radio station’ targeting 18- to 39-year-olds, which is known for ‘pushing boundaries of acceptability’. It acknowledged that the comments were broadcast at a time when children were likely to be listening, but considered that they were fleeting and not of a level which breached the standard.

[7]  The language used by the hosts, and specifically their use of ‘scrotum’ and ‘ball bag’ to describe Chihuahuas, was of a low level in terms of its offensiveness, and intended to be humorous as opposed to offensive. The comments were off-the-cuff and relatively fleeting, and in our view, would not have surprised or offended most listeners of this radio station and programme. While the comments were crude and broadcast during children’s normally accepted listening times just after 3pm, they did not reach such a level as to threaten current norms of good taste and decency in breach of the standard.

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

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
2 May 2014

Appendix

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

1                  Mandy Williams’ formal complaint – 5 February 2014

2                 TRN’s response to the complaint – 10 February 2014

3                 Ms Williams’ referral to the Authority – 23 February 2014

4                 TRN’s response to the Authority – 27 February 2014


1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd

, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)