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BSA Finds John Banks Talkback Discussion Breached Standards With Denigrating Comments About Māori

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has found an exchange between stand-in Magic Talk host John Banks and a caller, including denigrating comments about Māori culture, breached broadcasting standards.

It has ordered the broadcaster, MediaWorks Radio Ltd, to broadcast a statement during Magic Mornings with Peter Williams on Magic Talk summarising the BSA’s decision and to pay $3,000 in costs to the Crown.

The decision and order relate to an on-air discussion about former CEO Grainne Moss’s departure from Oranga Tamariki. One talkback caller made discriminatory comments which were endorsed by Mr Banks.

The BSA determined that the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards. It upheld a complaint that action taken by MediaWorks, including apologising, standing down Mr Banks and making operational changes, did not sufficiently remedy the harm caused by the breaches.

The Authority found the comments were foreseeable in the broadcast environment MediaWorks had created.

“The breach in this case was not a simple slip-up where MediaWorks personnel failed to identify and respond to an isolated discriminatory comment before it could be broadcast. The way the talkback topic was framed by Mr Banks as part of his introduction created an environment in which such discriminatory comments were foreseeable and practically inevitable,” the BSA said in the decision.

“The acknowledged lack of editorial boundary-setting and the systems within the production of the programme increased the severity of the breach to a level which was not sufficiently addressed by the broadcaster.”

The BSA said it was conscious the public platform enjoyed by broadcasters “places them in a unique position to influence public views, effectively ‘normalising’ certain behaviours”.

In these circumstances, the comments broadcast had the potential to cause significant harm within society, particularly among Māori communities, the decision said.

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