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Hutt and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2009-103

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa

Complainant

  • Dennis Hutt of Hamilton

Dated

20th October 2009

Number

2009-103

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Trinny and Susannah: The Great British Body – large group of naked British people formed a sculpture of a naked person – contained full frontal nudity – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – nudity was matter-of-fact and non-sexual – programme aimed to convey uplifting message about people accepting their bodies – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  The final episode of Trinny and Susannah: The Great British Body was broadcast on TV One at 2pm on Saturday 25 July 2009. Throughout the series, style gurus Trinny and Susannah had travelled across Britain talking to people about their naked bodies, with the aim of changing the way Britons viewed their bodies and celebrating the qualities that made each of them unique. In the final episode, more than 200 people travelled to Sussex where they undressed and formed giant naked male and female forms on the ground, and were filmed from a helicopter. Throughout the episode, many people were shown completely naked, and breasts and buttocks were often shown close up.

[2]   The following visual and verbal warning preceded the programme:

The following programme is rated PGR. It contains nudity that may offend some people and may not be suitable for a younger audience. We recommend the guidance of a parent or other adult.

Complaint

[3]   Dennis Hutt made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the programme should not have screened at 2pm on a Saturday when children could be watching because it contained full frontal nudity. He maintained that the programme included “close ups of explicit parts of people’s bodies”. Mr Hutt noted that SKY had stated the programme was rated R16, but that people who saw the programme on free-to-air television would not have been able to block it.

Standards

[4]   Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice is relevant to the determination of this complaint. It provides:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   TVNZ argued that, to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the material must have been unacceptable in the context that it was shown, including the programme’s classification, time of broadcast, warnings, and target audience. It noted that the programme was rated PGR, and was preceded by a warning, which gave a precise indication of the type of material the programme would contain, allowing parents sufficient opportunity to decide whether the content was suitable for child viewers.

[6]   The broadcaster contended that nudity in itself did not automatically breach standards of good taste and decency. It considered there were occasions when nudity, both male and female, was acceptable on television; what was at issue was the way that the nudity was presented.

[7]   TVNZ maintained that the programme subject to complaint was not pornographic, and did not seek to arouse or titillate viewers. It noted that there was no explicit depiction of sexual acts or genital contact. The broadcaster argued that the tone of the programme and the way the people’s bodies were shown was appropriate for a PGR programme. The nudity was innocent and non-sexual, it said, and in accordance with the show’s premise, which was assisting “ordinary looking people” to come to terms with how they looked.

[8]   TVNZ pointed out that the Authority had previously issued decisions which found that nudity in programmes screened in G or PGR time did not breach Standard 1 or the children’s interests standard (Harang and TVNZ, Hutchings and TVNZ, and Hutchings and TVNZ).1 In Cheyne and TVNZ,2 the Authority considered that the images of naked women “were not gratuitous and were intended to emphasise the fact that people come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and that some people are more comfortable with their bodies than others. ...the tone of the programme was supportive rather than exploitative”.

[9]   TVNZ concluded that the non-sexual images of naked people in Trinny and Susannah did not breach Standard 1 in the context of a PGR-rated programme that carried a detailed warning.

[10]   With regard to Mr Hutt’s argument that the SKY electronic programme guide had stated that the programme was rated R16, TVNZ maintained that SKY received classifications for programmes screening on free-to-air television from broadcasters and that TVNZ would have informed SKY that the programme was rated PGR. It considered that an error had occurred when the rating was entered into the programme guide, because R16 was not a rating listed in the Free-to-Air Code.

Referral to the Authority

[11]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Hutt referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

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

  • Trinny and Susannah was broadcast on TV One at 2pm on a Saturday

  • the PGR rating of the programme

  • the programme was preceded by a warning for nudity

  • the programme’s adult target audience.

[14]   The Authority notes that the episode complained about contained multiple full-frontal shots of naked men and women. In the Authority’s view, the nudity was matter-of-fact and non-sexual, and the spirit of the programme was intended to be uplifting rather than salacious or titillating. The images of naked people were not gratuitous and were intended to emphasise the fact that people come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and should learn to accept and feel comfortable with their bodies.

[15]   The Authority points out that broadcasters are allowed to screen PGR programmes between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays, and it considers that the programme’s content was acceptable for its PGR classification.

[16]   Taking the above contextual factors into account, the Authority finds that the programme did not stray beyond current norms of good taste and decency, and it declines to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
20 October 2009

Appendix

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

1.           Dennis Hutt’s formal complaint – 26 July 2009

2.           TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 24 August 2009

3.           Mr Hutt's referral to the Authority – 25 August 2009

4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 4 September 2009


1Decision Nos. 2005-018, 1999-020 and 1998-156

2Decision No. 2007-116