Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – item on death of a teenage boy whose body was found in a Christchurch park – footage of the clothed legs and torso of the deceased shown – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item on 3 News, broadcast on TV3 at 6pm on 13 February 2008, reported on the death of a teenage boy whose body was discovered in a Christchurch park. The item showed forensic teams and other police walking around the site, and included brief footage of the clothed legs and torso of the deceased from a distance.
 In one shot, the head and shoulders of the deceased were obscured by a park bench but his legs and torso were visible. In another shot, a tree in the foreground obscured a full view of the body, so that only the deceased’s feet and lower legs were visible.
 Kate Blazey made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the footage of the deceased teenager, “a probable homicide victim”, breached standards of good taste and decency.
 The complainant noted that the item had not been preceded by a warning and argued that it was not only distressing to her, but probably to the relatives of the deceased as well.
 TVWorks 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.
 TVWorks argued that for an item to breach Standard 1, it must be unacceptable to a significant number of viewers in the context in which it was shown. It noted that the story formed part of its nightly news programme which was targeted at adults.
 The broadcaster did not consider that “the majority of viewers would find the footage included in the report to be surprising”. It contended that news items regularly showed the consequences of violent crime and that the footage contained in the item was appropriate in the context in which it was shown.
 TVWorks argued that the “shots were taken from a respectable distance and did not show any identifying features” of the deceased and that there was “no need for a warning prior to screening”. The broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1.
 Dissatisfied with TVWorks’ response, Ms Blazey referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant reiterated her argument that the item breached standards of good taste and decency.
 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.
 When the Authority considers a complaint that 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 Authority has some sympathy for the complainant's point of view. However, it notes that viewers were unable to see any indications of trauma on the deceased and his body was covered, with only parts of his legs and torso being visible. Taking into account the above contextual factors, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency).
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
4 July 2008
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Kate Blazey’s formal complaint – 13 February 2008
2. TVWorks’ response to the formal complaint – 12 March 2008
3. Ms Blazey’s referral to the Authority – 31 March 2008
4. TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 29 April 2008