'Hopefully you get smashed': BSA says Mark Watson's Lions banter was acceptable
It's OK for broadcasters to slag off Northern Hemisphere rugby, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has found.
In a victory for trash talking on the airwaves, the BSA ruled that Sportstalk host Mark Watson's derogatory comments on the Northern Hemisphere's skills with the oval ball did not broadcasting standards.
A listener had complained to the BSA that Watson had broken balance, good taste and decency, and discrimination and denigration during a broadcast in which he told a Lions fan: "hopefully you get smashed".
During an on-air conversation on June 5 with a Lions fan who called in to his Sportstalk show on Radio Sport, Watson made three statements which earned the ire of the complainant.
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He told the caller: "Good luck against the Blues, hopefully you get smashed... I hate Northern Hemisphere rugby with a passion. I can't stand it;" and "Hopefully you're c... against the Blues and the Crusaders."
The complainant said Watson's opinion went beyond what could be considered provocative in talkback radio's robust environment.
"There is surely a widely-shared community standard which is breached when someone hosting a radio programme expresses a wish for a group of people to suffer or get injured. This goes beyond [being] simply 'offensive or rude'," she wrote.
However, the BSA disagreed, finding that Watson was entitled to express his opinion and that the Lions team and its supporters did not constitute a section of the community to which the discrimination and denigration standard applied.