Culturally insensitive and sexist or 'gendered' language on television or radio has become increasingly unacceptable to New Zealanders.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has released research which highlights what language Kiwis find acceptable or unacceptable in broadcasting.

Every year the BSA receives complaints about strong language used on TV and radio. The Language That May Offend research survey aims to find out which words or expressions are considered most offensive and how acceptable they are in certain contexts.

Surveying 1,514 members of the public, 31 words or phrases were tested in 11 different scenarios.


While strong swear words continue to be considered the most unacceptable, the results show the public are becoming more concerned with derogatory language directed at someone's race, culture or sexual orientation.

New racial/cultural insults which were added to the 2018 survey ranked in the 12 most offensive words.

There was also an increase in the number of people who find gender-related words totally unacceptable.

Context plays an important role in the use of swear words with the audience finding it more acceptable in fictional, comedic or scripted context, particularly after 8.30pm.

Used however, by a radio host on a breakfast programme, in sports commentary, or in reality TV was seen as less acceptable.