The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has ruled that two similar terms using the Lord’s name were neither blasphemous nor offensive.
The first complaint referred to the 1 News Vote 17 Leaders Debate, where moderator Mike Hosking questioned National Party leader Bill English about a damaged fuel pipeline in Auckland that caused disruption to flight services, uttering “for God’s sake” in his frustration.
The complainant claimed that Mr Hosking’s use of this phrase was blasphemous and offensive.
However, the Authority says variations of ‘God’, ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ are commonly used as exclamations and in this case, Mr Hosking used the phrase to express his own, and voters’, frustration at the Government’s management of the fuel crisis. The Authority found the alleged harm did not outweigh the important right to freedom of expression, particularly in the lead up to a general election.
The second complaint, separate from the first, was about a report on 1 News on the outbreak of a cattle disease on a farm in South Canterbury. A farmer used the expression ‘for Christ’s sake’ during an interview.
The Authority found there was public interest and high value in hearing an authentic voice from a New Zealand farmer as part of the news report. It noted that the farmer used the phrase to express his frustration and strong support of the affected farm owner. The complaint was also not upheld.