16 Jul 2016

Kiwis becoming less tolerant of racism and sexism

11:45 am on 16 July 2016

New research suggests New Zealanders are less tolerant than ever of racism, sexism, or material they perceive as denigrating towards others.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority research asked survey participants to give their opinions on material that it had already considered.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority research asked survey participants to give their opinions on material that it had already considered. Photo: 123RF

The research, which was conducted by the Nielson group and commissioned by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), involved assembling focus groups of six to eight people in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Ashburton.

The participants were aged between 18 and 65-years-old and came from a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, and there was an equal split of men and women.

The focus groups were asked to listen to five polarising clips the BSA had delivered verdicts on.

The research results were outlined in a report called Litmus Testing 2016.

Participants would deliver their opinions on the offensiveness of the clips, and whether they would uphold the complaint; they would then be given a summary of the BSA's decision, and were asked to rate that decision and the reasoning given by the BSA.

Their opinions on the offensiveness of the content was predicated on the "Good Taste and Decency" standard.

The clips included:

  • Sean Plunkett's interview on RadioLive with National Foundation for the Deaf chief executive Louise Carroll
  • The Edge's breakfast radio hosts, Jay-Jay, Mike and Dom, playing a game with ex-contestants of The Bachelor television show, in which contestants attempt to "deep-throat" a cucumber
  • A George FM breakfast show in which the hosts made derogatory remarks about a woman whose social media profile had been brought to the hosts' attention (not by the woman herself)
  • A Paul Henry show interview in which Paul Henry asked his guest whether she had had sex with Richard Branson.
  • A Radio Hauraki "Like Mike" segment in which Jeremy Wells impersonated broadcaster Mike Hosking making politically incorrect remarks about Māori.

BSA chief executive Belinda Moffat emphasised the small focus group meant the results were not indicative of all New Zealanders' opinions, but said the research still bore interesting results.

"New Zealanders appear to have a heightened sensitivity to sexist or racist content, and some New Zealanders now have a higher tolerance of bad language and nudity than we've found in previous years", she said.

"The research indicates this is strongly influenced by, perhaps, greater exposure to broad and diverse content through the internet."