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Dexter and TVWorks Ltd - 2010-019

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Tapu Misa
  • Leigh Pearson

Complainant

  • Phil Dexter of Auckland

Dated

1st June 2010

Number

2010-019

Programme

Sunrise

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Sunrise – presenters and two guests had a discussion about a 19-year-old girl from Northland who sold her virginity for $45,000 – allegedly in breach of children’s interests

Findings
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – themes discussed would have gone over the heads of younger viewers – broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   During a segment on Sunrise called “Uncles”, broadcast on TV3 at 7.55am on Wednesday 3 February 2010, the presenters and two guests (the uncles) started a discussion about a 19-year-old girl from Northland who had sold her virginity for $45,000.

[2]   The presenters and the guests made various comments about the girl’s actions including the fact that she had waited until she was 19 to lose her virginity, that the amount of money was “a little high”, and that the figure had even surprised the girl concerned.

[3]   During the conversation, one of the presenters stated that a girl from the United Kingdom had also recently sold her virginity and received 10,000 pounds. After one of the guests questioned whether the girl from Northland had a medical certificate to prove she was a virgin, the other guest said:

I remember taking a young lady’s virginity. It cost me a dozen beer, two tickets to the movies and some Georgie Pie... all up, say about, what? 70 bucks.

[4]   The presenters and the other guest laughed at the comment, with one presenter saying, “That’s quite cheap really... Let’s move on to our questions”.

Complaint

[5]   Phil Dexter formally complained to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging the programme breached Standard 9 (children’s interests). He contended that the segment had contained crude discussions about the purchasing of a girl’s virginity and that the hosts had also discussed how they had “obtained other females’ virginity for money”.

[6]   The complainant stated that he was “disappointed to hear these topics discussed so crudely on television at that time of the morning” when he had his young children watching. He argued that such material should be confined “to after the 8.30pm watershed”.

Standards

[7]   Standard 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice is relevant to the determination of this complaint. It provides:

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[8]   TVWorks said that “Uncles” was an “advice segment” that took a light-hearted look at topical stories and letters from viewers requesting advice. It said the segment “poked fun at everything and everyone” and that it was “not meant to be taken in the context of a news and current affairs segment”, as the events discussed were “covered off in a humorous and joking manner”.

[9]   The broadcaster argued that, while one of the guests had talked about taking a “young lady’s virginity for 1 dozen beer, 2 movie tickets and some Georgie Pie”, no mention was made about money changing hands as alleged by the complainant.

[10]   TVWorks contended that, while the topic was not to everyone’s taste, it had been discussed in a humorous manner and when taken in context, it did not amount to a breach of the Code. It declined to uphold the complaint

Referral to the Authority

[11]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Dexter referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant considered that the discussion was “rather misogynistic and offensive for this time of the morning” when his 10 and 12-year-old daughters were watching.

Authority's Determination

[12]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[13]   In our view, the comments subject to complaint were crude and reflected the men’s “blokey” sense of humour. However, we find that the references to a person selling their virginity or taking another person’s virginity would have gone over the heads of younger viewers, as they would not have understood the concepts or themes being discussed.

[14]   While older children may have understood the concepts covered, the comments were relatively innocuous in their level of detail, and they were an attempt at humour. Taking the nature of the “Uncles” segment into account, and the fact that the discussion stemmed from a legitimate news story, we consider that the material contained in the discussion, while marginal, was not inappropriate for child viewers in the context in which it was shown.

[15]   In these circumstances, we find that the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers, and we accordingly decline to uphold the complaint that Standard 9 was breached.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
1 June 2010

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1.          Phil Dexter’s formal complaint – 3 February 2010

2.         TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 4 February 2010

3.         Mr Dexter’s referral to the Authority – 9 February 2010

4.         TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 15 February 2010