MediaWorks fined $3000 after Magic Talk host John Banks supports racist call

MediaWorks has been fined $3000 after stand-in host John Banks breached standards during a discussion with a talkback caller over Māori culture.

In a decision released today the Broadcasting Standards Authority found the exchange between the Magic Talk host and a caller included discriminatory comments which breached good taste, decency, discrimination and denigration standards.

It upheld a complaint after determining the action taken by network, including issuing an apology, standing down Banks and making operational changes, did not sufficiently remedy the harm caused by the breaches.

It has ordered the broadcaster, MediaWorks Radio Ltd, to broadcast a statement during Magic Mornings with Peter Williams on Magic Talk summarising the BSA’s decision and to pay $3000 in costs to the Crown.

The decision and order related to an on-air discussion about the departure of former Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss.

The BSA said the talkback caller made discriminatory comments which were then endorsed by the former Auckland mayor.

It said the authority found the comments were foreseeable in the broadcast environment MediaWorks had created.

“The breach, in this case, was not a simple slip-up where MediaWorks personnel failed to identify and respond to an isolated discriminatory comment before it could be broadcast.

“The way the talkback topic was framed by Mr Banks as part of his introduction created an environment in which such discriminatory comments were foreseeable and practically inevitable,” the BSA said in the decision.

“The acknowledged lack of editorial boundary-setting and the systems within the production of the programme increased the severity of the breach to a level which was not sufficiently addressed by the broadcaster.”

The BSA said it was conscious the public platform enjoyed by broadcasters “places them in a unique position to influence public views, effectively ‘normalising’ certain behaviours”.

In these circumstances, the comments broadcast had the potential to cause significant harm within society, particularly among Māori communities, the decision said.

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