NZ radio station fined over a prank on Ben Stokes’ mother
Published - Nov 9, 2016 7:09 am | Updated - Nov 9, 2016 7:09 am
A New Zealand radio station was fined for a prank on New Zealand-born England cricketer Ben Stokes after they aired a heated conversation of Stokes’ mother without her consent. Ben Stokes’ had moved to England so that his father Gerrard could take a coaching job in Rugby, him being a former Rugby League International player.
Stokes, who moved from Christchurch to England as a child, played the role of villain in England’s loss to West indies in the ICC World T20 2016, as he conceded 4 consecutive sixes in the final over to lose the match for his team and making him a target for some New Zealanders.
Radio Hauraki shock jock Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath were mocking the Kiwi-born England star’s role in the match when the on-air incident took place. Stokes’ mother, who is based in New Zealand, called the radio station to question her son’s treatment and found herself talking to Heath, caught off guard that she was live on air.
When later she realized what actually happened, she complained the owner of the station, NZME, which accepted that Heath and Wells had “crossed the line” with this incident.
However, the Broadcasting Standards Authority found out that the pair were not disciplined after the incident and they had taken to social media to brag about their antics over the incident.
“The broadcast, and particularly the hosts’ deceptive conduct, represented a significant breach of broadcasting standards,” the watchdog said, finding it caused Stokes “distress and humiliation”.
The Broadcasting Standards authority have levied a fine of NZ$8000 ($5900) on the station and have stated them to read out a statement stating the regulator’s verdicts. The authority have also admitted that NZME had created false impression that the pair had been “suitably reprimanded and are off air tomorrow”, when they were actually traveling to Las Vegas.
“Not only was Mrs. Stokes unfairly deceived, and her reasonable expectation of privacy interfered with in a highly offensive manner, but this was aggravated by the hosts’ conduct and ridicule of her after the broadcast, which gained worldwide attention”.
An apology, however, was not demanded from the station noting Stokes’ belief that such a move would be “lacking in sincerity” after the station’s inaction over the initial complaint.