BSA 2018 Survey on Offensive Language in Broadcasting

MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Headline: BSA 2018 Survey on Offensive Language in Broadcasting

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has released its report Language That May Offend in Broadcasting, which surveyed more than 1,500 members of the NZ public about the words or expressions that may be used on television or radio that they find most offensive.

The results of the survey, which was last held in 2013 indicate that traditional strong swear words continue to be the most unacceptable regardless of the context. However, New Zealanders also have heightened sensitivity to language that may be considered offensive from a cultural, or gender and/or sexual orientation point of view. 

The key findings of the survey include:

  • Traditional strong swear words continue to be considered the most unacceptable regardless of the context.
  • Racial/cultural insults included in the 2018 survey ranked in the 12 most offensive words, suggesting the public are becoming more concerned about the use of derogatory language directed at a person’s race or culture, or sexual orientation.
  • When asked to identify other offensive words, 1 in 5 respondents (20% of those who answered the question) pointed to words they consider to be racist or offensive from a cultural/ethnic context. Respondents said they find language which describes other races in a derogatory way and derogatory references to a person’s sexual orientation, unacceptable.
  • The context and audience expectations of the programme are important and affect whether the audience will find strong language acceptable. Offensive language is generally considered more acceptable in fictional, comedic or scripted contexts, particularly after 8.30pm. Respondents found offensive language less acceptable in factual/reality/spontaneous contexts, eg when used by a radio host on a breakfast programme, in sports commentary, or in reality TV. 

The full report can be found here.