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Authority rejects complaint about Catholic group’s ‘allegations’ on radio show

01 May 2017

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld a complaint that claimed an RNZ feature wasn’t balanced as it did not include someone from the Catholic Church to rebut some statements.

The feature was an interview broadcast on 12 November 2016 on Saturday Morning with the President of Catholics for Choice (CFC), Jon O’Brien. He spoke about CFC’s position, and his own views, on contraception, marriage equality and abortion, contrasting these views with the Catholic Church’s stance on these topics.

The group, Right to Life, said a representative of the Catholic Church should have been given the opportunity to respond to what it said were “allegations” made by Mr O’Brien.

The BSA says the item was introduced and presented from the narrow perspective of CFC, which did not represent the views of all Catholics or of the Church hierarchy, and this was made clear during the interview.

“The Authority considered that most listeners would have been broadly aware of the Catholic Church’s stance in relation to the topics discussed and a rebuttal was not required to balance the interview,” it says in its decision.

“The Authority also did not uphold the fairness complaint, as the connection between CFC, Family Planning and Planned Parenthood was clearly outlined at the beginning of the item, and the item did not result in unfairness to the Catholic Church.”

Meanwhile, the BSA has also not upheld a complaint against an audio clip promoting the ZM radio station which stated that ZM played “hit after hit after goddamn hit”.

The complainant said the phrase was offensive to those who hold Christian or other religious beliefs and contrary to children’s interests.

The Authority acknowledged that use of the term “goddamn” may have caused offence to some listeners. However, it says, in this case it was used as part of the station’s promotional messaging for playing continuous music and was not dwelt upon.

“Taking into account the right to freedom of expression, and the context of the broadcast, the term “goddamn” could not be said to have encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, all Christians or others who hold religious beliefs. The broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests, having regard to the station’s target audience and the expectations of its listeners,” its decision notes.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019