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MediaWorks hit with $3000 fine for John Banks’ denigrating comments about Māori people

Newshub logo Newshub 12/08/2021 Ireland Hendry-Tennent
John Banks wearing a suit and tie: Related video: Magic Talk host Ryan Bridge condemned Bank's comments. © Image - Getty Images; Video - Newshub Related video: Magic Talk host Ryan Bridge condemned Bank's comments.

MediaWorks has been stung with a $3000 fine over comments made by Magic Talk host John Banks about Māori people.  

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) said the on-air exchange between Banks and a caller breached the good taste and decency, and denigration standards. 

In January, fill-in host Banks came under fire after he agreed with a talkback caller's racist comments. 

The caller, named Richard, claimed Māori were "stone age people from a stone age culture".

"This notion that Māori are victims... they're victims of their own genetic background. They're genetically predisposed to crime, alcohol and underperformance," Richard said 

"Educationally, they just do not have the - they're stone age people from a stone age culture and I'm not interested one bit, and neither have my children been interested in their stone age culture." 

Banks then chimed in: "Just a minute, just a minute. Your children need to get used to their stone age culture because if their stone age culture doesn't change, these people will come through your bathroom window... exactly, Richard. And thanks for the call." 

The exchange was widely criticised at the time with several major advertisers removing their ads from Magic Talk.

On Friday, the BSA ordered MediaWorks Radio Ltd broadcast a statement on Magic Talk summarising the decision and to pay $3000 in costs to the Crown. 

The BSA also upheld a complaint MediaWorks didn't do enough to remedy the harm caused by the comments. While MediaWorks apologised, stood Banks down and made operational changes, the BSA said this wasn't enough. It said the comments were foreseeable "in the broadcast environment" the company 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 BSA said in its decision. 

"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 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."

It found the comments had the potential to cause significant harm within society, particularly among Māori communities. 

It comes after a scathing independent investigation, led by Maria Dew QC, uncovered a "harmful 'Boys' Club' culture" and multiple allegations of sexual harassment and harm within MediaWorks. 

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