Apology, but complaint over Bain jokes not upheld

David Bain
David Bain
The Bain case has been likened to that of OJ Simpson, in a decision about a controversial 7Days joke aired on TV3.

Mel White lodged a complaint with the broadcaster, just hours after the satirical panel show, 7Days, aired on July 4.

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 said.

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 general.

''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 example.''

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 latitude.

''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''.