Complaint under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
New Zealand’s Next Top Model – modelling competition – one judge was shown wearing military medals – allegedly in breach of law and order standard
Standard 2 (law and order) – wearing of the medals was passive and incidental to the programme – did not actively draw attention to them such that the programme could be said to promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An episode of New Zealand's Next Top Model was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 13 March 2009. Thirty-three young women had been chosen from auditions around New Zealand to compete in the semi-finals in Queenstown, to become "New Zealand’s Next Top Model". Towards the end of the episode, three judges were shown discussing which 13 models should be selected to compete in the finals. One of the judges was wearing three military medals across the breast pocket of his jacket.
 A H Parata made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that it was in bad taste and an offence under the Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918 for the judge to wear "what appeared to be military ribbons and medals". The complainant considered that the right to wear such medals belonged only to people who had earned them and that the judge wearing them "demeans the sacrifice of those who have risked or lost their life for New Zealand". He concluded that TV3 "was flagrantly disregarding the law" by allowing the judge to wear the medals.
 Mr Parata nominated Standard 2 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. This provides:
Standard 2 Law and Order
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the maintenance of law and order.
 Having not received a response from the broadcaster within the statutory timeframe, Mr Parata referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The complainant argued that the programme breached Standard 2 because the unauthorised wearing of military medals was contrary to the Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918. He considered that the medals were worn in the programme with the intention of encouraging the adoption of new fashion trends. Although the Act was first passed in 1918, he said, it was just as relevant today, and "those who earned the right to wear medals, and their descendants, shouldn't have to put up with seeing these medals cheapened by being worn simply [as] a fashion accessory".
 TVWorks maintained that Mr Parata's complaint did not raise an issue of broadcasting standards "as it is most unlikely that a significant number of viewers would be offended by this". The medals belonged to the judge's great-grandfather who fought in the war, and the judge had inherited them when he passed away. The broadcaster said he had worn them to honour his great-grandfather, and "this was not meant to offend anybody". TVWorks had therefore declined to investigate the complaint, but had passed on Mr Parata's comments to the judge and the production team to alert them to his concerns.
 Mr Parata stated that he was dissatisfied with TVWorks' response, as the issue was "not how many people would be offended by a presenter of a fashion show wearing medals that he hadn't earned". There was a law on the inappropriate wearing of medals, he said, and "TV3 is not only unwilling to respect that law but, given the nature of the programme is promoting this attitude to its audience".
 The broadcaster reiterated that, although irrelevant to the issue of broadcasting standards, the judge had advised that "these were family medals that he was proud to wear".
 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.
 TVWorks maintained that Mr Parata's complaint did not raise an issue of broadcasting standards. The Authority disagrees. The complainant phrased his complaint in terms which corresponded to standards in the Free-to-Air Television Code, and the Authority considers that he raised a matter to which the standards applied.
 The Authority notes that wearing another person's military medals is potentially contrary to the provisions of the Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918. However, the Authority has stated on a number of occasions that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity (for example, Decision No. 2008-100).
 On this occasion, the Authority notes that viewers' attention was not actively drawn to the medals, and the programme did not encourage viewers to wear military medals in a similar fashion. In the Authority's view, the programme could not be said to have to promoted, condoned or glamorised criminal activity in the manner envisaged by Standard 2. Accordingly, it declines to uphold the complaint that the programme breached the law and order standard.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
19 August 2009
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. A H Parata’s formal complaint – 21 March 2009
2. Mr Parata's referral to the Authority – 3 May 2009
3. TVWorks' response to Mr Parata – 11 May 2009
4. Further comments from Mr Parata – 15 May 2009
5. TVWorks' response to the Authority and final comments – 2 June 2009