A controversial radio interview with a young woman about the
Roast Busters group did not breach standards, says MediaWorks
- and broadcasting authorities have not received an official
John Tamihere and Willie Jackson's interview with a caller
who identified herself as Amy included questions about
whether Roast Busters' alleged victims - some of whom were
reportedly under-age - may have in fact consented to sex.
Amy claimed to be close to an alleged victim. At one stage
during the interview, Tamihere asked Amy how old she was when
she lost her virginity. "How free and easy are you kids these
days out there?" he asked. "You now, you were like 14, yeah?"
The interview provoked a social media backlash that targeted
the station's sponsors, many of which pulled their
advertising from the Willie and JT RadioLive show.
Both hosts agreed to stand down while the company dealt with
the fallout. Jackson was later reinstated while Mr Tamihere's
contract was not renewed.
The full ruling of MediaWorks' radio standards committee is
included in an affidavit Tamihere plans to file to support a
$620,000 lawsuit against the company that alleges breach of
contract and defamation.
The committee measured complaints about the Amy interview
against nine separate broadcasting standards and the Bill of
Rights Act and found that no breaches had been committed.
A complaint about good taste and decency was rejected because
upholding it would have had a "chilling effect" on future
attempts to deal with sensitive subjects, the ruling states.
"We consider that the broadcast was acceptable to the regular
RadioLive talkback audience in the context of the entire
show. The interview subject took part voluntarily; she did
not express any distress during the interview and in contrast
appeared comfortable answering all questions."
The report's findings included:
- No callers complained about the interview during the show.
- The interview elicited important information.
- The hosts frequently stated that they did not condone the
Roast Busters' behaviour and that any sex with underage girls
- Amy was treated fairly.
A spokesman for the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA)
said complaints must initially be made to the broadcaster. If
complainants were not satisfied they could then refer the
complaint to the BSA. As of yesterday the BSA had not
received any complaints about the Amy interview.
MediaWorks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the company
received hundreds of complaints. She said the complaints had
no relation to the decision not to renew Tamihere's contract.
Tamihere's affidavit claims the MediaWorks committee issued
its decision on December 3 - the day he was told his contract
would not be renewed.
His defamation suit alleges MediaWorks' decision not to
publish its committee's findings and to announce that he
would be replaced via a tweet rather than an agreed managed
communications strategy was part of a deliberate attempt to
damage his reputation.
- Steve Deane of the New Zealand Herald