New Zealand Law Society

Navigation menu

Provocative comments about the Lions did not breach standards

26 September 2017

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has dismissed a complaint about provocative comments made by Mark Watson about the British and Irish Lions rugby team and northern hemisphere rugby media.  

During a Sportstalk segment Mr Watson engaged in a heated discussion with a caller about northern hemisphere rugby. The item was broadcast at 5.50pm on 5 June 2017 on Radio Sport. Mr Watson made critical comments including “I hate northern hemisphere rugby with a passion. I can’t stand it,” and “Good luck against the Blues, hopefully you [the Lions] get smashed.”

The Authority found that in the context of a talkback sports show that focused on rugby, the host’s comments did not exceed audience expectations and would have been understood to be an expression of the host’s desire to see the Lion’s team lose.

“The tone and delivery of the comments did not go beyond the type of sports commentary and rugby banter that is typically expected on this radio station,” the Authority said.  

The BSA also noted that within the sports talkback context listeners “[w]ould have understood the host’s comments, including ‘hopefully you get smashed’, not as an encouragement for the players to become injured, but rather as an expression of the host’s desire to see the Lions rugby team lose.

“Taking into account the opinionated environment of talkback radio and the expectation that it will provide a forum for robust and provocative debate and critique, the comments did not reach the high threshold necessary to breach standards of good taste and decency.”

The Authority found that the comments made by Mr Watson were not in breach of the good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration or balance standards.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019