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Angus and TVWorks Ltd - 2009-009

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Paul France
  • Diane Musgrave

Complainant

  • Ami Angus of North Shore City

Dated

1st April 2009

Number

2009-009

Programme

3 News

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Tapu Misa declared a conflict of interest and did not take part in the determination of this complaint.


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – report on the Boobs on Bikes parade in Wellington – contained footage of bare-breasted women – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, programme classification and children’s interests

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – footage of bare breasts was not salacious – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers – not upheld

Standard 7 (programme classification) – standard not applicable – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  An item on 3 News, broadcast on TV3 at 6pm on 7 November 2008, reported on the "Boobs on Bikes" parade promoting the Erotica exhibition that took place in Wellington. Footage of the parade included two fleeting shots of bare-breasted women.

[2]  The item was preceded by three "coming up" teasers; one at the beginning of the news hour and the other two just before commercial breaks. The second teaser contained footage of a bare-breasted woman.

[3]  The item also included comments in support of the parade from the parade's organiser and in opposition from the National Director of Family First NZ, Bob McCoskrie.

Complaint

[4]   Ami Angus made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached standards of good taste and decency, programme classification and children’s interests.

[5]   Ms Angus noted that prior to the report being broadcast, 3 News screened two teasers for the item, one at approximately 6.10pm and another at around 6.25pm. She stated that, "if I recall correctly" the first teaser contained footage of a woman's bare breasts.

[6]   The complainant said the main item included uncensored scenes of many bare-breasted women and noted that the broadcaster had made no effort to warn viewers about the nudity contained in the item or to blur the images.

[7]   Referring to guideline 1a of the good taste and decency standard, Ms Angus argued that TV3 had failed to adequately consider several contextual factors when deciding to broadcast the footage of bare-breasted women including the item's time of broadcast, which was during children's normally accepted viewing times.

[8]   Referring to guideline 1b of the good taste and decency standard, the complainant contended that the teasers for the item and the item itself should have been preceded by verbal and written warnings for nudity.

[9]   Ms Angus pointed out that guideline 7e to Standard 7 (programme classification) stated that broadcasters should consider the use of warnings where content is likely to offend a significant proportion of the audience. She argued the item contained exactly the type of material that required a warning.

[10]   Turning to Standard 9 (children's interests), the complainant noted that the item was broadcast during children's normally accepted viewing times. She said that children should not have "explicit images" of bare-breasted women forced upon them with no warning. Referring to guideline 9a to the children's interests standard, Ms Angus argued that the broadcaster had not been mindful of child viewers by broadcasting material that would disturb them during their normally accepted viewing times.

Standards

[11]  Standards 1, 7 and 9 and guidelines 1a, 1b, 7e and 9a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. They provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Guidelines
1a      Broadcasters must take into consideration current norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs. Examples of context are the time of the broadcast, the type of programme, the target audience, the use of warnings and the programme’s classification (see Appendix 1). The examples are not exhaustive.
1b     Broadcasters should consider – and if appropriate require – the use of on-air visual and verbal warnings when programmes contain violent material, material of a sexual nature, coarse language or other content likely to disturb children or offend a significant number of adult viewers. Warnings should be specific in nature, while avoiding detail which may itself distress or offend viewers.

Standard 7 Programme Classification

Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified; adequately display programme classification information; and adhere to time-bands in accordance with Appendix 1.

Guideline 7e
Broadcasters should consider the use of warnings where content is likely to offend or disturb a significant proportion of the audience.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children's normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Guideline 9a
Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm – and avoid screening material which would disturb or alarm them.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[12]  TVWorks stated that it was sorry the complainant was upset by the coverage of the Boobs on Bikes event. However, it argued that the Authority had already determined that news coverage like this was not a breach of broadcasting standards in Decision Nos. 2006-098 and 2006-109.

[13]   As a result, the broadcaster concluded that the issues raised by Ms Angus had already been fully considered and determined by the Authority and it declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[14]   Dissatisfied with TVWorks' response, the complainant referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[15]   The complainant noted that the Authority had previously determined complaints regarding news coverage of the Boobs on Bikes parade that contained footage of bare-breasted women. She also noted that the item complained about in the Authority’s previous decision (Decision No. 2006-098) had been preceded by a warning, and that the Authority had considered this a relevant contextual factor when making its determination.

[16]   Ms Angus contended that the item "did not need to continually show women's bare breasts all the way through" and argued the footage was "definitely gratuitous and intended to titillate" viewers.

[17]   She went on to say that "I can understand that it is considered newsworthy, but I do not understand that when something is viewed live by a lot of people, that it makes it acceptable uncensored TV viewing". She reiterated her argument that the main item and the teasers breached Standard 1 and should have been preceded by warnings.

[18]  With respect to Standard 9 (children's interests), the complainant argued that unaccompanied children did watch news programmes and reiterated her point that the broadcaster should have censored the images of the bare-breasted women to protect child viewers.

Authority's Determination

[19]   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.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[20]   When the Authority considers an alleged breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the item was broadcast at 6.30pm, during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • 3 News was an unclassified news programme
  • the item was not preceded by a warning.

[21]  Ms Angus contended that the item "did not need to continually show women's bare breasts all the way through". The Authority notes that the item only contained two brief shots of bare-breasted women. The remainder of the footage showed the women from behind or at an angle from which their breasts could not be seen.

[22]   While obviously not to everyone's tastes, the parade was a newsworthy event which had drawn a large crowd. The Authority considers that the footage of the parade was relatively inexplicit and that the two shots of bare-breasted women were not prolonged or salacious. Further, the report was matter-of-fact and focused mostly on the response of the crowd, as opposed to the women taking part.

[23]   The Authority also notes that the item was clearly signposted by the three "coming up" teasers and the graphic at the beginning of the item which said "Boobs on Bikes". It considers that viewers would have realised that the item was likely to contain footage of bare-breasted women, which would have given them adequate opportunity to decide whether or not to continue watching. In these circumstances, and taking into account the contextual factors, the Authority finds that the broadcast did not breach Standard 1.

[24]   Ms Angus also complained about the second teaser which contained a brief shot of one bare-breasted woman. The Authority acknowledges that the complainant was, and other viewers may have been, surprised by the inclusion of this shot. However, it considers that the fleeting shot was not salacious or designed to titillate viewers. In the context of an unclassified news programme aimed at adults, the Authority finds that the teaser did not breach standards of good taste and decency.

[25]   In these circumstances, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the item and the teaser breached Standard 1.

Standard 9 (children's interests)

[26]   The Authority has previously stated that unaccompanied young children are unlikely to watch news programmes (see, for example, Decision No. 2006-109). As stated above in paragraph [23], it finds that the three "coming up" teasers and the item's title provided viewers with fair warning that footage of bare breasts would be shown during the item. The Authority concludes that parents and caregivers were provided with adequate warning and opportunity to decide whether to let their children view the item.

[27]   Accordingly, the Authority finds that the broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers, and declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 9.

Standard 7 (programme classification)

[28]   The Authority notes that 3 News is an unclassified news programme. As a result, it finds that the programme classification standard is not applicable in the circumstances. The Authority declines to uphold the Standard 7 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
1 April 2009

Appendix

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

1.         Ami Angus' formal complaint – 17 November 2008
2.         TVWorks' response to the formal complaint – 23 December 2008
3.         Ms Angus' referral to the Authority – 20 January 2009
4.         TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 3 February 2009