Women's Refuge has criticised a Seven Sharp story on bystander reaction to violence against women which used the song Smack My Bitch Up as a backing track.
The 1997 Prodigy track starts the piece and plays for about 1 minute and 15 seconds as a female actor with make-up bruises sits down in a busy park. It continues as an actor playing the woman's partner yells at her and then drags her off. It is repeated during a later portion of the piece. None of the song's lyrics can be heard.
Refuge spokeswoman Dr Ang Jury said the use of the song during the item was the height of bad taste.
"It was totally inappropriate. I would be hoping they wouldn't have thought about it, surely if they had they wouldn't have used it. If they did think about it and chose it deliberately well that's a wee bit troubling."
The journalism behind it was worse, she said.
"I don't know if they're having a laugh but they gave it [the issue of bystanders and abuse] an extremely once over lightly."
A Herald reader wrote: "I have just finished watching a section on Seven Sharp that looked into whether people would intervene in a case of domestic abuse. To my surprise the background music they chose to play sounded like Smack My Bitch Up by the Prodigy. Were my ears playing tricks or are there some strange people working on Seven Sharp?"
TVNZ communications manager Georgie Hills said in a statement: "The background song was a music only excerpt; no lyrics were played. We acknowledge the song is controversial but its use shouldn't overshadow the importance of the story's subject matter; it was a compelling social experiment about public attitudes towards domestic violence. There was certainly no intention to cause offence."
Asked what the audience response was and if there had been complaints Ms Hills said there had been a strong reaction but viewers had backed the raising of an important issue.
- Staff reporter