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Pauling and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2009-122

Members

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

Complainant

  • Alexia Pauling of North Shore

Dated

15th February 2010

Number

2009-122

Programme

Island Wars promo

Channel/Station

TV2

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Island Wars promo – broadcast during America’s Funniest Home Videos – contestant said “ready to kick some New Zealand arse” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) and Standard 9 (children’s interests) – tone was playful and light-hearted – G rating appropriate – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   A promo for the programme Island Wars, in which contestants from New Zealand and Australia competed against each other in a variety of challenges, was broadcast during America’s Funniest Home Videos between 4.30pm and 5pm on Saturday 1 August 2009. In the promo, a female New Zealand participant was shown saying, “the Aussies play dirty and they cheat”, followed by a male Australian participant saying, “ready to kick some New Zealand arse”.

Complaint

[2]   Alexia Pauling made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the contestant’s comment breached standards relating to good taste and decency and children’s interests.

[3]   Ms Pauling considered that the language used was unsuitable for child viewers and should not have been broadcast at 4.30pm on a Saturday during a G-rated programme that children were likely to be watching.

Standards

[4]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

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

[5]   TVNZ noted that America’s Funniest Home Videos was a well-known entertainment show rated G, which was aimed at older children and families. It said that the programme often featured videos of “people, children, babies and animals in funny situations or experiencing seemingly humorous accidents”. TVNZ stated that a G rating meant that a programme excluded material likely to be unsuitable for children and could be screened at any time.

[6]   The broadcaster contended that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable in the context in which it was shown, including the programme’s classification, time of broadcast, intended audience, and use of warnings.

[7]   TVNZ argued that “arse” was not a swear word, and that it was not used in an aggressive or pejorative way in the promo. It said the word was not used in a sexual context, but rather by an Australian man to indicate that the Australian team would beat the New Zealand team. Further, TVNZ considered that America’s Funniest Home Videos was not aimed at young children, and therefore the word was acceptable in the context of the broadcast. It concluded that the promo was acceptable for screening during a G-rated programme aimed at older children and declined to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

[8]   With regard to Standard 9 (children’s interests), TVNZ maintained that the phrase would not have disturbed or alarmed child viewers. It was said in the spirit of competition, it said, and did not have any sexual connotations, nor was it aggressive or designed as a put-down. The broadcaster considered that the promo had been scheduled to screen during programmes viewed by older children or by “children in a family context”. TVNZ concluded that Standard 9 had not been breached.

Referral to the Authority

[9]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Ms Pauling referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She disagreed that “arse” was not a swear word. “‘Arse’ is vulgar slang and to swear is to use such profanities,” she said. Ms Pauling reiterated her view that it was not necessary to include such language during G-rated programmes on a Saturday afternoon. Ms Pauling considered that the word was not in her children’s interests, and disagreed with TVNZ’s argument that it was not used in an aggressive or pejorative manner as it referred to “kicking”.

Authority's Determination

[10]   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) and Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[11]   When the Authority considers an alleged breach of Standard 1, it takes into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the promo was broadcast between 4.30pm and 5pm on a Saturday during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • it was screened during America’s Funniest Home Videos which was rated G
  • the promo was rated G
  • the host programme’s target audience
  • Island Wars was broadcast at 7.30pm on a Sunday during children’s normally accepted viewing times.

[12]   The Authority has previously found that the phrase “needs a good kick up the arse” did not breach Standard 1 in the context of a news programme (see Campbell and TVNZ1).

[13]   In this case, the contestant’s comment was playful and used in the context of light-hearted competition. The Authority considers that the comment was not intended to offend or to be abusive. It concludes that the comment was acceptable within a G-rated promo and host programme, and it declines to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

[14]   Having found that the promo was correctly rated G and screened in an appropriate host programme, the Authority also finds that the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers in broadcasting the promo at 4.30pm. It therefore declines to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
15 February 2010

Appendix

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

1.          Alexia Pauling’s formal complaint – 2 August 2009
2.          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 10 September 2009
3.          Ms Pauling’s referral to the Authority – 14 September 2009
4.          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 1 December 2009


1Decision No. 2001-067