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Goldingham and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2008-006

Members

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

Complainant

  • Frank Goldingham of Palmerston North

Dated

26th March 2008

Number

2008-006

Channel/Station

TV2

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
What Now? – “Grossology” episode – presenters discussed people who pick their noses and eat it and don’t share it with others – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency  

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – typical children’s humour – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  An episode of the children’s programme What Now?, broadcast on TV2 from 8am to 10am on Sunday 11 November 2007, was entitled the “Grossology” episode. It featured “heaps of gross things... disgusting things... like bogies... and bodily functions”.

[2]   During the episode, What Now? presenter Charlie talked to a character “Chuck Chunks” about how to get back at another presenter for playing gross practical jokes on him. Among suggestions by Chuck to disgust her with such things as blood and scabs, they had the following discussion:

CC:          You know one thing that really grinds my gears, personally?
Charlie:    Yeah, what’s that?
CC:          It’s when people pick their noses in public...
Charlie:    Yeah...
CC:          And then eat it without sharing with anyone else, you know?                 

[Charlie looks disgusted]            

CC:          Like if I do it I make sure I’ve got lots and lots Charlie, see – I’ve got plenty to
               share with you – if you’d like some?
Charlie:    Ah, no thanks!

Complaint

[3]   Frank Goldingham complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the episode breached decency standards, particularly as he felt the programme was designed for children. As an adult he said he usually enjoyed What Now?, but he considered this latest episode to be disgusting. Specifically, he referred to “a main presenter who went on talking about picking nose and snot and sharing same with another person.”

Standards

[4]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. It provides:

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.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   TVNZ maintained that to constitute a breach of Standard 1 the material broadcast must have been unacceptable to a significant number of viewers in the context that it was shown. It emphasised that What Now? was rated G and aimed at children. What Now?, it said, therefore typically offered the type of “gross”, bodily functions-based humour that children were likely to appreciate.

[6]   TVNZ also stated that What Now? had a policy of encouraging children to be comfortable with bodily functions rather than embarrassed, as a result of regularly researching audience preferences and consulting childhood development experts. It said, “in accordance with this research and expert opinion What Now? treats farting as natural and shows skits on snot, poos, wees, sweat, flaking skin, bad breath, etc.”

[7]   Accordingly, TVNZ concluded that the “grossology” episode and the particular segment highlighted by Mr Goldingham would not have been unacceptable to a significant number of viewers. It declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

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

[9]   The complainant stated that he was extremely offended by the contents of the “grossology” episode, and was unsatisfied with TVNZ’s failure to apologise for offending him.

[10]   Mr Goldingham also felt that the “grossology” episode should have been rated PGR rather than G because three- and four-year-olds “cannot decipher what is wrong and what is right” and need parental guidance.

Authority's Determination

[11]   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.

Procedural matter

[12]   In his referral, Mr Goldingham argued that the episode of What Now? should have been classified PGR, rather than G. The Authority’s task is to review the broadcaster’s decision. Mr Goldingham did not raise Standard 7 (programme classification) in his original complaint to the broadcaster. The broadcaster therefore did not consider Standard 7 in its response to the complainant, and the Authority has no jurisdiction to consider that standard on the complainant’s referral.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[13]   When the Authority considers a complaint which alleges a 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 programme was broadcast from 8am to 10am on a Sunday
  • the programme was classified G
  • the programme has a child target audience
  • the framing of the episode as “grossology”  
  • the presentation of the actions in the skits as “gross” and “disgusting”.  

[14]   The Authority agrees with TVNZ that the sort of content that was broadcast in What Now? on 11 November, while it may seem “gross” to adults, is typical of what children talk about and often find extremely funny. The Authority finds that there was nothing in the episode that was unsuitable for a child audience.

[15]   Furthermore, the particular segment highlighted by Mr Goldingham was brief (approximately 20 seconds) and, like the rest of the episode, was acceptable within a programme designed to entertain children.

[16]   Accordingly, the Authority finds that in broadcasting the “grossology” episode of What Now? TVNZ did not exceed currently accepted norms of good taste and decency. It declines to uphold the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
26 March 2008

Appendix

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

1.            Frank Goldingham’s complaint to TVNZ – 12 November 2007
2.           TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 12 December 2007
3.           Mr Goldingham’s referral to the Authority – 14 January 2008
4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 February 2008

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

1.            Frank Goldingham’s complaint to TVNZ – 12 November 2007
2.           TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 12 December 2007
3.           Mr Goldingham’s referral to the Authority – 14 January 2008
4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 February 2008