Sports

Kiwi radio station fined over Ben Stokes prank

Ben Stokes

WELLINGTON: A New Zealand radio station was fined Tuesday over a “deceptive” prank in which a heated conversation with England all-rounder Ben Stokes’ mother was broadcast live without her knowledge.

Radio Hauraki shock jocks Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath were mocking Kiwi-born Stokes’ role in England’s loss to the West Indies in the World Twenty20 final last April before the on-air incident.

Stokes, who moved from Christchurch to England as a child, conceded four consecutive sixes in the final over to give the West Indies victory, making him a target for some New Zealanders.

His New Zealand-based mother Deborah called the radio station to take issue with her son’s treatment and found herself talking to Heath, unaware she was on air.

She subsequently realised she had been broadcast live and complained to station owner NZME, which conceded Heath and Wells had “crossed the line”.

However, the Broadcasting Standards Authority found the station did little to discipline the pair, who continued to boast about their antics on social media after 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”.

It fined the station NZ$8,000 ($5,900) and ordered it to read out a statement outlining the regulator’s findings.

It did not demand an apology, noting Stokes’ belief that such a move would be “lacking in sincerity” given the station’s initial inaction after her complaint.

Ben Stokes moved to England as a child so his father Gerard, a former rugby league international, could take a coaching role.

Both his parents have since moved back to Christchurch.

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