The Herald reports:
A talkback host’s comments describing award-winning New Zealand author Eleanor Catton as an “ungrateful hua” and a “traitor” were not in breach of broadcasting standards.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has declined to uphold two complaints about RadioLive host Sean Plunket’s comments about Catton speaking critically about the National government at a literary festival in India earlier this year.
Plunket called Catton an ‘ungrateful hua’ and a ‘traitor’, amongst other things.
The BSA received complaints that Plunket’s comments constituted “bullying” and a personal attack on Catton.
The authority’s decision said that “the severity of [Plunket’s] attack and the hostility and aggression of the language used? raised the question of whether this attack went too far”.
However, Plunket’s comments did not breach broadcasting standards, it ruled.
Catton was “powerfully exercising her right to freedom of expression and has had to suffer the responses including those from the broadcaster”, the BSA said.
“Conversely, the broadcaster has exercised its right to freedom of expression and it will have suffered consequences from those who objected to what Mr Plunket said and the way in which he said it.”
The decision from the authority considered that “?different views have been expressed and have been evaluated and those who have expressed or broadcast these views have been judged accordingly”.
“This is how we think things are meant to work in a liberal democracy.
“We do not think that our society would be better off if views such as those of the radio host were staunched.”
Another defeat for the opponents of free speech.