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BSA Research Reveals Different Attitudes To Discrimination And Denigration On TV/radio

Attitudes towards discrimination and denigration on TV and radio appear to be changing with younger New Zealanders showing a lower tolerance for it than older generations, according to new research from the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

The research found that younger people are significantly more likely to agree with BSA decisions that uphold complaints of discrimination and denigration in broadcast content, and less likely to agree with decisions that do not.

Overall, an average of 78% of participants agreed with five BSA decisions tested by the research.

These findings form part of ‘litmus testing’ research exploring the public’s attitudes towards discrimination and denigration on TV and radio and views on recent BSA decisions on complaints relating to this standard.

Discrimination and denigration is one of 11 broadcasting standards overseen by the BSA, whose role it is to determine complaints.

Other key findings from the research include:

· Many of those surveyed from different ethnic groups report experiencing discrimination and denigration regularly.

· Nearly half of New Zealanders (46%) think requiring ‘a high level of condemnation, often with an element of malice’ for a finding of discrimination/denigration is appropriate. However, a quarter do not.

· The public’s attitude to such content is influenced by ‘who is saying these things’. For example, it may be considered worse when coming from those in positions of power or privilege. It is also influenced by how they are said, with comments suggesting people are more forgiving where no harm is intended or if the comment is light-hearted, or a joke.

· Viewers or listeners are more forgiving of discriminatory/denigratory content in less serious programmes, such as comedy shows.

· A number of participants’ comments reflect a concern about TV and radio’s capacity to ‘normalise’ behaviours and language – particularly where this impacts children.

BSA Chief Executive Glen Scanlon said: “This report underlines just how challenging this area is – with some very divergent views among participants over what constitutes discrimination and denigration.

“However, the results provide some comfort that the community considers the Authority’s decisions in this area are well written and generally reflect community standards.”

Scanlon said the results would be assessed together with the outcomes of the BSA’s stakeholder survey and other inputs to the current review of the Broadcasting Codes.

The full report is available at: Litmus Testing 2021

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