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Decisions
Brenner and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-029 (6 November 2019)
2019-029

A complaint that Malcolm Brenner was treated unfairly when interviewed for a segment on Dom, Meg and Randell about his previous sexual relationship with a dolphin has been upheld. MediaWorks interviewed Mr Brenner about his relationship with a dolphin but ultimately decided not to broadcast the interview in full. They did however broadcast a small segment of the interview in which one of the hosts called Mr Brenner ‘sick’ and stormed out of the interview. The Authority found that Mr Brenner was treated unfairly and was not adequately informed about the nature of his participation in the broadcast. In particular, he was misled into thinking a four minute version of the interview would be broadcast (rather than only the brief segment including the host’s reaction to him), when the final broadcast had already occurred. The Authority also found that, while listeners may have already formed a negative impression about Mr Brenner, the broadcast of the interview segment had the potential to adversely affect him and he should have been given the opportunity to comment on air. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the discrimination and denigration, balance and accuracy standards, finding they were not applicable.

Upheld: Fairness
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy

Decisions
Frost and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-025 (23 August 2019)
2019-025

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that comments made by Duncan Garner and Judith Collins on The AM Show breached the balance and law and order standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Authority found that the comments identified did not amount to a discussion of a controversial issue of public importance, so the balance standard did not apply. The Authority also found that the broadcast did not breach the law and order standard as it did not contain any content which would have encouraged audiences to break the law.

Not Upheld: Balance, Law and Order

Decisions
Horowhenua District Council and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-105 (29 July 2019)
2018-105

A broadcast of The Long Lunch hosted by Wendyl Nissen included an interview with Horowhenua District Councillor (HDC) Ross Campbell, who talked about his decision to wear a body camera to Council meetings after what was described as incidents of bullying towards him. MediaWorks upheld the complaint under the fairness standard, finding that it should have sought comment from HDC prior to the broadcast, but did not take any remedial action. The Authority upheld HDC’s complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks following the finding of the breach of the fairness standard was insufficient. The Authority found that MediaWorks ought to have broadcast a follow-up item to remedy the breach. The Authority also upheld the complaint that the item was unbalanced as it did not include any comment from HDC or acknowledgement of an alternative viewpoint with respect to the allegations of bullying. Finally, the Authority found the broadcast was likely to mislead audiences by giving the impression that HDC had a systemic culture of bullying, through the absence of the presentation of alternative perspectives, and upheld the complaint under the accuracy standard.

Upheld: Fairness (Action Taken), Balance, Accuracy

Order: Section 13(1)(a) broadcast statement

Decisions
Harrison and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-024 (18 July 2019)
2019-024

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment of Dom, Meg and Randell breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. The Authority found that, while comments made on the show may have been distasteful to some, the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression includes the right to broadcast such material provided this does not cause undue harm. The Authority found that, given the well-established nature of the programme, the station and their target audience, listeners and particularly those with children in their care had sufficient information to make an informed decision about what they listened to. The Authority noted that the standards do not prohibit inexplicit sexual references or sexual innuendo during children’s normally accepted listening times, and it was likely that many of the references during this segment would have gone over the heads of child listeners. In any event, The Edge is not targeted at children and this particular segment, while it may have been distasteful to some, did not meet the threshold to justify regulatory intervention.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests

Decisions
Kavanagh and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2019-001 (2 April 2019)
2019-001

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a segment on The AM Show, in which a booth designed to enable doctors to perform discrete testicle examinations was likened to a ‘confession booth’, breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. The Authority found that, in the context of the segment, the comparison was unlikely to undermine or violate widely shared community norms. It also did not reach the level of malice or nastiness necessary to denigrate a section of the community. The public health message in the broadcast was an important one and overall the Authority found that any potential for harm did not justify a restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Walker and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-069 (14 November 2018)
2018-069

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that it was inappropriate to broadcast the song ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo at 4pm on The Edge. The Authority noted the language complained about was censored in the song, minimising any potential offence or harm caused. Taking into account relevant contextual factors, including audience expectations of The Edge and the popularity and longevity of the song (first released in 2013), the Authority found that children’s interests were adequately considered and the song was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence. Accordingly, any restriction of the right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests

Decisions
Parlane and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-075 (14 November 2018)
2018-075

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a RadioLIVE Drive show, which discussed the issue of property managers or landlords asking to see the bank statements of prospective tenants. The Authority found the broadcast did not breach any of the broadcasting standards raised by the complainant, noting the broadcast included a range of viewpoints from the hosts, interviewees and listeners who phoned into the programme. The broadcast discussed a legitimate issue and was in line with audience expectations for the programme and for talkback radio. The Authority therefore found no actual or potential harm that might have outweighed the important right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Law and Order, Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency, Programme Information, Privacy, Fairness

Decisions
Kelleher and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-056 (19 September 2018)
2018-056

A complaint regarding a comment made by radio host Wendyl Nissen about US President Donald Trump has not been upheld. During the segment, which reviewed the book, ‘The President is Missing’, Ms Nissen commented, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if [US President Donald] Trump just went missing? Like we just never heard from him again because someone killed him and put him at the bottom of the ocean…?’ The Authority found the comment did not breach broadcasting standards. This was a flippant comment that was intended to be humorous and was in line with audience expectations for the programme, particularly considering the robust talkback radio environment. The Authority emphasised that humour is an important aspect of freedom of expression and found that limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression on this occasion would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Violence, Law and Order  

Decisions
FJ and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-026 (5 June 2018)
2018-026

A segment on the George FM Saturday Drive Show featured an announcer making comments about the complainant regarding an incident in the past, where the announcer allegedly saw the complainant engaging in certain activities. The broadcaster upheld the complaint under the privacy and fairness standards and issued written apologies to the complainant. The complainant referred the complaint to the Authority on the basis the broadcast also breached the accuracy standard and the apologies did not address the alleged inaccuracies in the broadcast. The Authority did not uphold the accuracy complaint, finding that, due to the nature of the broadcast and audience expectations, the Saturday Drive Show did not amount to ‘news, current affairs or factual programming’ to which the accuracy standard applied. The Authority noted that while the broadcasting standard raised did not apply, there may be alternative avenues for the complainant to have the concerns expressed in the complaint considered.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Decisions
Parlane and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-017 (21 May 2018)
2018-017

During the talkback programme, Overnighter, host Garry McAlpine invited listeners to call in to discuss the issues facing New Zealand in 2018, one of which was the upcoming cannabis referendum. Mr McAlpine strongly expressed his view, throughout the programme, that cannabis should be decriminalised for medicinal and recreational use. A number of callers, including the complainant, expressed their views on the subject, with some supportive of, and others opposed to, Mr McAlpine’s views. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this programme was in breach of broadcasting standards. Talkback radio is known for robust discussion, and broadcasting standards recognise that it is an opinionated environment, with hosts granted some latitude to be provocative and edgy in the interests of generating robust debate. This programme in particular featured genuine discussion on an important issue in New Zealand. As such, the harm alleged to have been caused by the complainant did not outweigh the host’s, or callers’, right to express their opinions as part of a talkback discussion about New Zealand’s future, even if some listeners might have disagreed or found those views distasteful.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance, Law and Order, Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Programme Information, Discrimination and Denigration   

Decisions
Neumegen and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-014 (8 May 2018)
2018-014

A segment on Polly & Grant for Breakfast featured the hosts reading out and discussing a list of countries referred to as ‘the last places on Earth with no internet’. The list was long and included countries such as India, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The list was evidently sourced from an online article that contained relevant information about the countries listed having internet user penetration rates of less than 20%. That information was omitted during the broadcast, and created an impression that the countries listed had no internet. The Authority nevertheless did not uphold a complaint under the accuracy standard. The Authority noted that the accuracy standard only applies to news, current affairs or factual programming and found that it did not apply to this light-hearted, entertainment-based programme. The Authority noted that, while the information broadcast was incorrect, the hosts’ discussion of the relevant countries did not contain the malice or invective required to encourage discrimination or denigration, or undermine widely shared community standards.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

Decisions
Loder and Dennis and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-011 (8 May 2018)
2018-011

During Afternoon Talk with Wendyl Nissen, Ms Nissen interviewed Police Association President, Chris Cahill. Mr Cahill discussed a recent survey which indicated an increase in police being threatened by firearms. Mr Cahill expressed his views on the potential causes of this increase, the links between the increase and the increase of methamphetamine in New Zealand, the arming of police officers, the use of MSSA (military-style, semi-automatic) firearms, and firearm registration. The Authority did not uphold two complaints that the interview breached the balance standard. The Authority found that the broadcast was a light-touch interview, albeit on a serious topic, which created an audience expectation that the interview was approaching the firearms issues from Mr Cahill’s perspective and that it did not purport to be an in-depth balanced examination of the issues raised. The Authority did not find any statements made during the interview to be materially inaccurate, nor did it find the interview to be unfair to any person or organisation.

Not Upheld: Balance, Accuracy, Fairness

Decisions
Parlane and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2018-001 (18 April 2018)
2018-001

During Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury a caller to the programme discussed her experience with divorce legal proceedings in the Family Court and subsequent appeals. A complaint was made that, by allowing the caller to disclose details of the proceedings, the broadcaster breached the law and order standard. The Authority expressed serious concerns with the way in which the call was allowed to progress, as private information was disclosed by the caller which had been suppressed in the Family Court. The Authority found the broadcaster needs to be more alert to the issues surrounding Family Court matters and similar proceedings as issues of contempt, as well as fairness and privacy, may arise. However, the Authority did not consider the broadcaster could reasonably be said to have actively encouraged listeners to break the law by allowing the caller on air, in the manner envisaged by the law and order standard.

Not Upheld: Law and Order

Decisions
Anderson and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2017-094 (2 March 2018)
2017-094

During a segment broadcast on The Edge, the radio hosts made several references to the names ‘Mark Hunt’ and ‘Mike Hunt’, with the apparent intention to imply the phrase, ‘my c***’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this conversation breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority found that, while the conversation was gratuitous and immature, the hosts did not explicitly use the phrase, and the segment as a whole was not so extreme or offensive that it went beyond audience expectations of The Edge radio station. The Authority also declined to uphold the complaint under the children’s interests standard, finding children were unlikely to understand the conversation, mitigating the broadcast’s potential harm.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children's Interests

Decisions
Sandbrook and Mediaworks Radio Ltd - 2017-096 (16 February 2018)
2017-096

Warning: This decision contains language that some readers may find offensive.

The song ‘Fire Water Burn’ by the Bloodhound Gang was broadcast on The Rock FM at 5.45pm on 25 October 2017. The song contained the word ‘motherfucker’, which was partially censored, and also contained lyrics such as, ‘but if I crashed into Uranus I would stick it where the sun don't shine’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the song, in its edited format, breached the good taste and decency standard. The Authority acknowledged that the censoring could have been more effective in disguising the word used, and that some of the lyrics may offend listeners. However, the Authority found overall the song did not reach the threshold for finding a breach of good taste and decency taking into account the context, including audience expectations of The Rock and rock songs, and the longstanding popularity of this particular song. Therefore limiting the right to freedom of expression was not justified in this case.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
Cherry and Mediaworks Radio Ltd - 2017-077 (16 November 2017)
2017-077

During The Edge’s afternoon show Jono, Ben & Sharyn, host Jono Pryor referred to a particular television channel as ‘the wanker channel’. A complaint was made that Mr Pryor’s use of the term ‘wanker’ was inappropriate and offensive. The Authority found that, taking into account relevant contextual factors including The Edge’s target audience, audience expectations of Jono, Ben & Sharyn and the nature of the explicit language used, the comment did not reach the threshold required to justify limiting the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests

Decisions
Esler and Mediaworks Radio Ltd - 2017-068 (16 November 2017)
2017-068

An interview was broadcast on Afternoons with Wendyl Nissen with a journalist, about an article she had written regarding the upcoming perjury trial of the secret witnesses who testified in David Tamihere’s murder trial. During the interview the journalist discussed the discovery of one victim’s body, saying, ‘you think of a body turning up… it’s really… bones. The trampers who found [the] body actually stepped on it before they saw it.’ Ms Nissen replied: ‘So there was a crunch’, adding, ‘– sorry to be disgusting’. A complaint was made that this comment was ‘disgusting, disrespectful’ and ‘in poor taste’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the good taste and decency standard, finding that Ms Nissen’s immediate apology after the comment, and other contextual factors, mitigated any potential harm or distress caused by the comment, and it did not reach the high threshold necessary to find a breach of the good taste and decency standard.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Decisions
JN and Mediaworks Radio Ltd - 2017-053 (27 October 2017)
2017-053

A segment on Thane & Dunc included an interview with a man, X, who had a relationship with a couple (the complainant and Z). During the interview, X described the nature of the relationship. He did not name the couple, referring to them as ‘A’ and ‘B’. A second interview with X was broadcast the following day, during which the hosts told X they had spoken with the couple, who alleged the relationship was abusive. The hosts interrogated X about his behaviour, then demanded X apologise and agree to make no further contact with the couple involved. The Authority upheld a complaint that these broadcasts breached the privacy of the complainant and Z. The Authority found that little, if any, sensitivity or respect was shown for the dignity, safety, reputation and mental wellbeing of the parties involved, and this represented a serious breach of broadcasting standards and a serious lack of understanding of the parties’ right to privacy.

Upheld: Privacy

Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $3,000 compensation to JN and $3,000 compensation to Z for the breaches of privacy; Section 16(4) $2,500 costs to the Crown

Decisions
BL and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2017-025 (9 August 2017)
2017-025

During Jay-Jay, Dom & Randell, the hosts discussed their conversation with a guest the previous day who was described as a successful voice coach, and who gave tips about putting on a ‘sexy voice’. One of the hosts prank called two phone sex chat lines and spoke to the operators to see whether they used a ‘sexy voice’. One of the operators he spoke with was the complainant, who discussed practical aspects of the service, including how calls were conducted and paid for. A distinctive sound could be heard in the background of the call. The Authority upheld a complaint from the operator that this broadcast breached her privacy and was unfair. The combination of the extended audio of the complainant’s voice and the background sounds meant that she could be identified by people beyond family and close friends who would reasonably be expected to know about her phone sex chat line business. The complainant was also unaware she was being recorded and did not consent to the broadcast of this information. This resulted in a breach of her privacy and was also unfair. The Authority did not uphold the remaining aspects of BL’s complaint.

Upheld: Privacy, Fairness

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Balance, Accuracy

Orders: $2,000 privacy compensation; $1,500 costs to the Crown

Decisions
Lee and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2017-030 (24 July 2017)
2017-030

During a segment on Jay-Jay, Dom & Randell, the show’s hosts asked callers to submit a ‘corny joke’. A caller submitted the following joke: ‘What’s the hardest part about cooking a vegetable? Trying to fit the wheelchair in the pot.’ Before the caller delivered the punchline, one of the hosts (who believed he knew the joke), asked his co-hosts to switch off their microphones so they could discuss it. The hosts also spoke to their producer, asking whether it was appropriate to air the punchline to the joke. After some deliberation, they decided to allow the joke to be broadcast. The hosts reacted to the punchline by saying, ‘No! No! That’s a terrible joke!’ and ‘That’s not a joke!’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the segment was in poor taste and discriminatory. While the Authority found the joke to be offensive and distasteful, taking into account the context of the broadcast and the reactions of the hosts, it did not consider the material reached the threshold necessary to find a breach of the good taste and decency standard. The broadcast of the joke also did not amount to hate speech or vitriol intended to encourage the different treatment, or devalue the reputation of, people with disabilities as a section of the community.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration

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