Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Life on Mars – included a brief scene of a man having his hand held down and hit with a telephone receiver – allegedly in breach of law and order and violence
Standard 2 (law and order) – item did not encourage viewers to break the law or promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity – not upheld
Standard 10 (violence) – promo was rated PGR – violence was fleeting – broadcaster exercised sufficient care and discretion – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 A promo for the programme Life on Mars, a British science fiction and police drama television series, was broadcast during One News at 6pm on TV One on Monday 23 June 2008.
 The promo included a brief scene of a man being interrogated. The interrogator was shown holding a man’s hand down on a table and striking the man’s hand with a telephone receiver. The man screamed as the receiver struck his hand.
 Rhonda Findlay made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo breached standards of law and order and violence.
 Ms Findlay stated “this unnecessary violence turns a very accessible object, i.e. a phone, into a weapon”. She argued that the violence could easily be copied.
 Standards 2 and 10 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. They provide:
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.
Standard 10 Violence
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.
 TVNZ stated that the Authority had previously held 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.
 The broadcaster argued that “the promo did not glamorise or condone the actions of a criminal” and that the brief shot was included to back-up the voiceover from the main character. It considered that the brief scene was “in context for the promo”.
 TVNZ said the promo was rated PGR (Parental Guidance Recommended) and screened during the PGR time-band. It noted that PGR-rated programmes contain material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult. The broadcaster contended that the material included in the promo was acceptable for screening in the PGR time-band.
 With respect to Standard 10 (violence), TVNZ noted that “the shot including the telephone is brief, around one second in duration”. It considered the violence did not dominate the promo and was not gratuitous. The level of violence was acceptable in the PGR time-band within a news and current affairs programme not directed at children, it said. The broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint.
 Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Ms Findlay referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant reiterated her argument that the promo showed the “unsuitable” and “easily copied” concept of a person’s hand being held down and hit with a telephone.
 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.
 The Authority has stated on a number of occasions (e.g. Decision No. 2005-133) that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity. It considers that showing a brief excerpt from a clearly fictional programme did not encourage viewers to replicate the behaviour, nor did it otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.
 Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 2.
 The Authority notes that the promo was rated PGR (Parental Guidance Recommended) and was broadcast during an unclassified news programme. It considers that, while the promo did contain violence, it did not dominate the promo; the violent material was fleeting and the overall tone of the promo was quirky and humorous. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that the broadcaster exercised sufficient care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.
 Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the promo breached Standard 10.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
25 November 2008
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Rhonda Findlay’s formal complaint – 15 July 2008
2. TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 14 August 2008
3. Ms Findlay’s referral to the Authority – 8 September 2008
4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 26 September 2008