Talkback with Sean Plunket contained a discussion about the ‘chemtrails’ theory, in the context of comments made by Colin Craig that the Conservative Party was undecided about the validity of this theory. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that inaccurately claimed that chemtrails were not real, and denigrated people who believed in chemtrails by referring to them as ‘nutters’. The programme clearly comprised opinion rather than statements of fact, and people who believe in chemtrails are not a section of the community.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
The George Selectah Show included audio from a YouTube parody of an advertisement for ‘Chaffers New Zealand Style Deck Sealant’, making fun of the way New Zealanders pronounce the word ‘deck’ to sound like ‘dick’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that comments such as ‘every kid in the neighbourhood has been on my dick’ were in bad taste and joked about paedophilia. This was clearly intended to be humorous and did not promote or endorse paedophilia. Most regular listeners of George FM would not have been offended, taking into account the station’s target audience, and that the content was broadcast during school time when children were unlikely to be listening.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
During a late night talkback programme with a fill-in host, a caller expressed her attitude to the Royal family by reference to what she described as ‘Charles raping Diana’. The host challenged this and asked her what she meant. She spoke about how the Queen ‘devised the “three in the bed” scenario’ and how she felt sorry for Diana. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the reference to rape was unacceptable and the host should have terminated the call. It appeared the caller did not mean ‘rape’ in the literal sense, the conversation was not unduly offensive in the context of a late night talkback programme, and the host acted responsibly by asking the caller to clarify her point.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
During the Jay-Jay, Mike & Dom Show, the hosts discussed a controversial tweet Dom had posted about The X Factor NZ. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards relating to responsible programming and discrimination and denigration: the broadcast sparked debate about the acceptability of the tweet and whether it was sexist, and contained views both for and against the tweet and the criticism it attracted; and the hosts' comment did not encourage discrimination or denigration against any sections of the community.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
During Michael Laws Talkback the host expressed the view that medical personnel were deliberately
overmedicating patients with dementia, causing them to die. He used the term “zombie” when referring to a person with dementia. The complainant called the station to challenge the host’s comments but was cut off. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards relating to accuracy, fairness, and discrimination and denigration: broadcasters have the right to screen calls, as a matter of editorial discretion; the host did not make any derogatory or abusive comments but simply chose not to engage with the complainant; and the use of the term “zombie” was not vitriolic or an attack against people with dementia – the host was expressing his opinion and comments were typical of his style.
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
During the Jay-Jay, Mike and Dom Show on The Edge, the hosts discussed charges being faced by radio broadcaster Iain Stables, following an altercation with his ex-girlfriend’s parents. They commented that he was guilty and discussed his bipolar condition. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached his privacy: Iain Stables was identifiable but the programme did not reveal any private facts about him because information about the charges he faced, his previous altercations, and the fact that he had bipolar disorder, was already in the public domain.
Not Upheld: Privacy
When the hosts of the Willie and JT Show were discussing an industrial dispute at the Ports of Auckland, one host expressed his support for the striking workers by saying, for example, “I hope they get aggressive down there at the wharf”, “Go and bust your pickets over some of these scabs”, and, “I am into militant action.” The Authority did not uphold the complaint that these comments breached the law and order and responsible programming standards: the comments amounted to the host’s vehemently expressed opinion and listeners would not have taken them seriously; the broadcast did not encourage listeners to engage in unlawful activity, taking into account the host’s later retractions and other contextual factors; and upholding a complaint about high value protest speech like this would unjustifiably restrict freedom of expression. The complaint about responsible programming was subsumed into consideration of law and order.
Not Upheld: Law and Order, Responsible Programming
During the Willie and JT Show on Radio Live the hosts discussed the recent sentencing of the ‘Urewera Four’, comparing their treatment to that of the complainant who was discharged without conviction after being found guilty of similar charges. The complainant phoned in to the programme and explained the background to his case but after the phone call had finished the hosts called him a “psychopath” and “sociopath” and compared him to “Hannibal Lecter”. The Authority upheld the complaint that this breached the fairness standard: the hosts’ comments amounted to personal abuse and the complainant was unable to defend himself as the phone call had ended. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the comments breached the controversial issues standard: though the broad focus of the item was a controversial issue of public importance, the item did not amount to a “discussion” of that issue but presented the hosts’ opinions; and the broadcaster had made reasonable efforts, and given reasonable opportunities, to present significant viewpoints, by allowing the complainant on air.
The Authority made no order.
Not Upheld: Privacy, Controversial Issues, Accuracy, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
In a segment called “The Olympic Athletes Hall of Names” on the Jay-Jay, Mike and Dom Show, broadcast on The Edge, the hosts joked about the names of athletes, including athletes from China, South Korea and Australia. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards relating to good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming: the comments were a light-hearted attempt at humour and the focus was on the athletes’ names, not their nationalities; the comments did not carry any invective or encourage discrimination against, or the denigration of, any section of the community; and they were not socially irresponsible.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
During Michael Laws Talkback, broadcast on Radio Live, the host interviewed the complainant, a spokesperson for the American Pit Bull Terrier Association. The host accused her of misquoting statistics and making untrue statements; he made comments such as “you’re just as bad as your dogs” and, “can you wear a muzzle”. The Authority held that this was a serious breach of the fairness standard and the action taken by the broadcaster, in upholding only part of the fairness complaint, was insufficient. The Authority did not uphold the accuracy complaint since the host did not make unqualified statements of fact.
The Authority ordered the broadcast of a statement, including an apology to the complainant.
Upheld: Fairness and Action Taken
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming
Order: Broadcast of statement, including apology to complainant
During Michael Laws Talkback, broadcast two days running on Radio Live, the host discussed the results of a study conducted by Women’s Refuge and the SPCA which showed a link between domestic violence and animal abuse. The host made a number of comments critical of the women who took part in the study and of women who stayed in violent relationships because of their pets. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the host’s comments breached standards relating to good taste and decency, accuracy, and discrimination and denigration: talkback is a robust and opinionated environment; the comments amounted to the host’s personal opinion and the two programmes were balanced overall; the comments were limited to women who took part in the study and to those who stayed in violent relationships because of their pets, and the comments did not reach the necessary threshold for encouraging discrimination or denigration against any section of the community.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
During live talkback on the election “tea tapes” story, Radio Live host Michael Laws commented that “the media have gone mad, rabid. If I had a gun I’d shoot them, put them out of their misery, because they have gone rabid and they may infect others.” He went on to specifically mention the Herald on Sunday and questioned why someone hadn’t taken a shotgun and “cleaned out the entire news room”. A majority of the Authority upheld the complaint that these comments breached the good taste and decency standard: the combination of the length of the statement, its repeated use of graphic imagery, its specificity in relation to identified journalists and its mode of delivery made the statement unacceptable. Notwithstanding the importance of freedom of expression, Mr Laws’ comments went too far. The Authority made no order. In a minority decision, one member argued that the broadcast did not breach the good taste and decency standard because of the context of talkback radio and Mr Laws’ style, and the use of an accepted and well understood colloquialism. The Authority unanimously did not uphold the complaint that the words breached the law and order standard.
Upheld (Majority): Good Taste and Decency
Not Upheld: Law and Order
During Robert & Jono’s Drive Show, broadcast on The Rock, one of the hosts told a personal anecdote about a man with Down Syndrome who fell off a swing and hurt himself; the host used the term “mental” several times to refer to people with intellectual disabilities. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this breached standards relating to good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, and fairness: the story was conveyed in a light-hearted manner and the term “mental” was used without malice or invective; the co-host made mitigating comments and the host also made comments that were positive towards people with intellectual disabilities; and the man referred to was not “exploited” or “humiliated”.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration
The Rock radio station ran a promotion called “Win a Divorce” which culminated in a broadcast on Valentine’s Day during Robert and Jono’s Drive Show. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the broadcast breached standards relating to good taste and decency, privacy, fairness and responsible programming since the concept of promoting an on-air request for divorce was not reflected in the actual broadcast: it turned out that the two participants had planned to subvert the broadcast from the beginning as a protest against the promotion and they spent the time berating the hosts.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Privacy, Fairness, Responsible Programming
During The Edge Morning Show one of the hosts performed a parody of a song, and later read out a listener’s text message which said, “Dom, your song was so gay I’m pretty sure I just got AIDS from listening to it.” The Authority declined to uphold the complaint that the broadcast breached standards relating to good taste and decency, accuracy, and discrimination and denigration. Given contextual factors such as the target audience and their expectations of content on The Edge, the potential harm to listeners did not outweigh the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression; the programme was not a news, current affairs or factual programme to which the accuracy standard applied; and the content of the text message was directed at the host’s song and not against homosexuals as a section of the community.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration
New Zealand First Election Advertisement. Child stated, “My mum and dad are voting for New Zealand First. They say that Winston will give us a fair go.” Not upheld (election programmes subject to other Codes; responsible programming).
More FM. Host discussed “tweet” by celebrity rapper which contained allegedly offensive language. Not upheld (good taste and decency).
Prime Minister’s Hour. John Key hosted Radio Live for an hour on 30 September 2011, two months out from the General Election. Allegedly in breach of the Election Programmes Code. Not upheld (Standards E1 – election programmes subject to other Codes and E5 – opening and closing addresses).
Paul Henry Drive. Low-level swearing. Not upheld (good taste and decency).
Prime Minister’s Hour. Prime Minister John Key hosted Radio Live for an hour on 30 September 2011, two months out from the General Election. Allegedly in breach of the Election Programmes Code. Not upheld (Standards E1- election programmes subject to other Codes, E3 – denigration, and E4 – misleading programmes).