The Bain case has been likened to that of OJ Simpson, in
a decision about a controversial 7Days
joke aired on
Mel White lodged a complaint with the broadcaster, just hours
after the satirical panel show, 7Days, aired on July
The Dunedin resident - who went to school with several of the
deceased Bain siblings - complained after comedians joked
about telegrams sent by dead relatives to David Bain.
Robert Dowd, of the MediaWorks standards committee, said the
episode was reviewed.
''We apologise for the offence caused and give you our
assurance that the comments were not intended to disparage
the Bain family or offend those that knew them,'' Mr Dowd
However, the committee was satisfied the broadcast was not in
breach of standard 1, namely good taste and decency.
Mr Dowd acknowledged Miss White's personal connection to the
family, but said the standard was intended to be applied much
more broadly, such as across all viewers or the community in
''We certainly accept that the comments were very close to
the line of what we consider acceptable for broadcast but
given the comic context we are satisfied that they did not
cross that threshold.
''It is important to note that the Bain case has been of
ongoing fascination for the New Zealand public throughout its
history, and has no doubt reached the level of infamy and
public interest often seen with highly controversial and
divisive cases - the OJ Simpson case in the USA for
OJ Simpson was a former American football star and actor who
in 1995 was acquitted of the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown
Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Mr Dowd said it was inevitable that the Bain case provided
and would continue to provide material for public discussion,
and in this case comic interpretation.
''That does not mean that comedians have the unfettered
freedom to say whatever they please about the matter, but it
does mean that they are afforded a significant amount of
''In light of this, and considering the high level of
expectation the 7 Days audience has for challenging
and controversial material, we are satisfied that the
material in question was unlikely to have disturbed or
offended a significant number of viewers and we have not
upheld your complaint under standard 1.''
The committee has referred the complaint to the producers of
7 Days and have discussed Miss White's concerns.
Miss White told the Otago Daily Times yesterday she
had no expectation the network would uphold her complaint,
but was pleased ''they have somewhat acknowledged that they
did go a bit far''.