BSA rejects complaints about Sean Plunket calling Eleanor Catton a 'hua'

Radio Live host Sean Plunket having a go at Eleanor Catton and using an inappropriate slur.

Radio Host Sean Plunket says he regards the Broadcasting Standards Authority decision upholding his use of the word "hua" as a win for freedom of speech. 

The media watchdog today released its decision to reject two complaints about Plunket's reaction to comments made by New Zealand author Eleanor Catton. 

In January this year, Plunket called Catton an "ungrateful hua" and a "traitor" for comments she made criticising the New Zealand Government while she was at a literary festival in India. 

Radio Live host Sean Plunket's slur at Eleanor Catton did not breach broadcasting standards.

Radio Live host Sean Plunket's slur at Eleanor Catton did not breach broadcasting standards.


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Complaints said his comments were "bullying" and a personal attack on Catton. 

However the decision found Plunket did not breach broadcasting standards. 

"To be honest, I'd forgotten all about the complaints," Plunket said. "It thought it was a good decision. People are free to say what they like and we don't always have to agree with each other. 

"I thought the BSA was quite realistic about the way talk radio is."

The decision found Plunket's comments were within audience expectations "in the context of a robust, opinionated, and sometimes provocative or challenging forum such as talkback radio".

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"Eleanor Catton was powerfully exercising her right to freedom of expression and has had to suffer the responses including those from the broadcaster," the decision 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."

Kirsten McDougall at Victoria University Press said Catton was not in the country, and would not be commenting on the outcome.

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