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BSA rules on Willie Jackson's 'violent' port comments

The broadcasting watchdog says Mr Jackson's comments were the sort of ranting society is willing to "not take seriously".

Caleb Allison
Tue, 20 Nov 2012

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld a complaint which accused Radio Live talkback host Willie Jackson of inciting violence.

Mr Jackson, an ex-trade unionist and former Alliance Party MP, made the comments on his show in March at the height of wharfies' strike action against Ports of Auckland.

During an on-air exchange with co-host John Tamihere, Mr Jackson said: "I hope they get aggressive down there on the wharf ... if you want to win something, you've got to get a bit physical here.

"Come on wharfies – don't stand by and wave your flags. Go and bust your pickets over some of these scabs going in there. Take some actions, you mugs!" 

While Mr Jackson retracted his comments shortly afterwards, Aaron Bhatnagar complained to the BSA that the comments incited physical violence and the destruction of personal property.

The BSA disagreed, saying in its decision: "Some of the words used by Willie were extreme and advocated strong industrial action.

"On the face of it, some of the words encouraged physical violence and damage to property, which ordinarily would breach the law and order standard.

"Taken in context, Willie's comments amounted to his vehemently expressed opinion which advocated strong protest action at the wharf.

"We find that listeners would not have been encouraged to act against the law. Rather, the comments gave vent and a verbal outlet to a particular voice in the Ports of Auckland dispute."

The BSA says most listeners would have taken the broadcast to be "good humoured, provocative verbal sparring" and not serious advocacy of violence.

"It was the sort of ranting that our society is willing to allow and not take seriously, particularly on talkback radio."

Mr Jackson came under fire for his comments from NBR ONLINE readers, and later he accused NBR of trying to get him off the air. 

Caleb Allison
Tue, 20 Nov 2012
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BSA rules on Willie Jackson's 'violent' port comments