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Checkpoint's Description of Graphic Violence Needed Warning

BSA finds description of graphic violence on Checkpoint required a warning

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has found that the description of violent content in a radio item on Checkpoint about the ‘Dome Valley’ kidnapping case, required an audience advisory (warning) for violent content.

The item covered a case in which a young woman had been kidnapped, beaten, sexually violated and left to die by a group of her former friends in April 2016. TheCheckpoint item reported on the final stages of the court case. It featured the reporter and the victim describing the assault and injuries in detail.

The Authority supported the broadcast of an item that gave a voice to the victim and highlighted the seriousness of the crime and the sentencing of the accused. The item had high value in terms of the right to freedom of expression and was in the public interest.

Nevertheless, the Authority considered that the graphic and disturbing nature of the description of the violence suffered by the victim justified a brief audience advisory to enable listeners to make an informed decision about whether they wished to listen to the graphic detail contained in the item.

The Authority concluded that the lack of an advisory resulted in a breach of the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards.

“The item contained sexual material, violent content and graphic descriptions of the victim’s experiences. The depictions of violence, while only verbal (and not visual), were lengthy and relatively detailed and made up the majority of the segment, which was over four minutes in length. It will have been distressing content for some people… particularly… when delivered by the victim herself”, the Authority said.

The Authority considered that the content of the item may have been especially upsetting for listeners who had suffered similar experiences and any children who may have been listening.

“The level of graphic detail clearly triggered the violence standard and required the exercise of care and discretion by the broadcaster in the presentation of the item”, the Authority said.

This was the first complaint the Authority has upheld under the violence standard of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice, which has been in force since 1 April 2016.

The Authority did not uphold the complaint under the law and order standard. No orders were made.


ENDS


FURTHER INFORMATION

The item was broadcast on 6 March 2017 on Radio New Zealand National.

The full decision is available at http://bsa.govt.nz/decisions/latest.

The decision was made under the Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence and Law and Order standards of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Code has been in force since 1 April 2016 and is available at http://bsa.govt.nz/standards/overview.

ABOUT THE BROADCASTING STANDARDS AUTHORITY

The Broadcasting Standards Authority is an independent body that oversees the broadcasting standards regime in New Zealand. We do this by determining complaints that broadcasts have breached standards, by doing research and also by providing information about broadcasting standards.

The Authority members are Peter Radich (Chair), Te Raumawhitu Kupenga and Paula Rose.

For more information see our website: www.bsa.govt.nz.

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