The list below contains our recently published decisions, with the latest at the top.
An episode of The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta focused on issues around retirement. At the beginning of the episode, Nigel Latta was transformed into an elderly man using special effects make-up. He reacted to his transformation with the exclamation, ‘Oh my God!’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this language was offensive and that presenters of current affairs or documentary programmes should be required to use a higher standard of language. The Authority followed its findings in previous decisions that expressions such as ‘Oh my God’ are often used as exclamations and are not intended to be offensive. It was satisfied that in the context it was used by the presenter, the expression would not generally be considered to threaten current norms of good taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
An episode of Cold Feet, a British comedy-drama series which followed the intertwining lives of three couples at different stages in their relationships, contained sex scenes. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the sex scenes breached the children’s interests and good taste and decency standards. Cold Feet was not targeted at child viewers, it was classified Adults Only and broadcast during an appropriate timeband, and was preceded by a specific warning for sex scenes. The level of sexual content was not overly explicit and was justified by the episode’s narrative context. Overall the broadcaster adequately ensured child viewers could be protected from adult content, and the episode would not have offended or surprised the general viewing audience.
Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Good Taste and Decency
A promo for an episode of the comedy-drama series Lucifer was broadcast during Sunday. In the promo, the main character, Lucifer, was shown impersonating a priest and hearing a woman’s confession. Lucifer said to the woman, ‘Your penance: ten Bloody Marys and a good shag’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the main character’s impersonation of a priest was inappropriate, offensive and denigrated Catholics and Christians. The Authority acknowledged that the promo would have been upsetting to some viewers who hold certain beliefs, but found in the context of the broadcast the promo did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of standards. The promo reflected the content of the fictional programme promoted, and was intended to be humorous and light-hearted. It contained only low-level sexual innuendo. The promo did not contain any material which could be said to encourage the discrimination of, or denigration against, all Catholics and/or Christians.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration
During The Devlin Radio Show, host Martin Devlin was forcefully outspoken about an abusive text message he had received from the complainant, TF. Mr Devlin read out the complainant’s mobile phone number multiple times and phoned the complainant on air while making abusive comments about them. The Authority upheld a complaint that Mr Devlin breached the complainant’s privacy. While the Authority did not condone the strongly-worded text message initially sent to Mr Devlin, Mr Devlin’s response was disproportionate and unprofessional, even in the context of the robust talkback radio environment. The complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to their personal mobile number, and Mr Devlin’s comments amounted to a sustained and personal attack against the complainant, making use of private information to personalise the abuse and implicitly encouraging harassment of TF. This amounted to a highly offensive disclosure and was a breach of TF’s privacy.
Orders: Section 13(1)(d) – privacy compensation $2,000; section 16(4) – costs to the Crown $2,000; section 13(1)(a) – broadcast statement
An item on Story explored the issue of unconscious bias. During the introduction, footage of members of the public walking down the street was shown. Each individual was zoomed in and highlighted with special effects. The Authority upheld a complaint from JW, one of the individuals shown, that she was unfairly ‘showcased’ during the segment. Rather than being a face in the crowd, the edited footage used filming techniques that singled out the complainant and drew her into the issue under discussion without her knowledge or consent. This unduly impacted on her dignity and was unfair. The Authority recognised that bias is a sensitive issue and has the potential to cause hurt and offence. It is also an important social issue. In this context, without undermining the value of the item as a whole, the Authority considered more care should have been taken in the way the footage was edited to avoid the singling out of individuals who were unaware they would be featured. The Authority did not consider that JW had a reasonable expectation of privacy when she was filmed on a busy public street. Nor did the item reach the high threshold necessary to encourage viewers to treat differently, or devalue the reputation of, any section of the community.
Upheld: Fairness; Not Upheld: Privacy, Discrimination and Denigration; No Order