Radio host 'abused position' in row with Queenstown bar

A radio host who threatened bar staff with bad publicity after being refused service, then used his show to bad-mouth the Queenstown business, has been told he abused his position.

A complaint against Newstalk ZB's Farming Show host Jamie McKay has been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

McKay recounted on air about being refused service at The Waterfront Bar and Bistro in Queenstown after having "a couple of beers" at the Sevens.

But the bar's owners said camera footage showed his group were intoxicated and aggressive.

On his show on January 14, McKay said he went to the bar with three others, "farmers and me, all with their money in their wallets wanting to buy some dinner and have something to drink".

After being asked by staff whether they'd been drinking and responding they'd had a couple of beers, the group were told they couldn't be served.

"So, The Waterfront Bar on Lasseters Wharf, it's probably a lovely bar to go and have a drink, but make sure when you go there, you don't have a drink before you go there, because you might not get served."

The show's producer commented there were two sides to every story, but McKay said he was sticking to his story, and "I would have thought 50-somethings getting in after a few pints are not going to cause too much trouble".

The owner of the bar, Otago Casinos Ltd, said security footage showed McKay's group were refused service for being intoxicated and aggressive, and said he had threatened bar staff with bad publicity.

In its response, The Radio Network said it "wasn't ideal for hosts to use the radio to air their own personal grievances", but they were encouraged to tell stories that reflected real life and created a bond with the audience.

The authority said there was minimal value in McKay's comments, which had an "undertone of revenge".

"He abused his position as the host of a radio programme in order to publicly criticise an identifiable business, and to advance his own personal agenda."

The complaint was upheld but no penalty was imposed.

Radio Network general manager of talk programming Dallas Gurney said it did not condone the comments made on air.

"It happened four months ago and it was dealt with at the time," he said.

"It was very much regrettable. However, Jamie realises his mistake and has apologised to the bar and I believe the apology has been accepted."

Gurney would not say how the matter was dealt with, saying it was between an employer and employee.

Waterfront Bar and Bistro would not comment.

- Heather McCracken of APNZ

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