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Harang and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-097

Members

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

Complainant

  • Kristian Harang of Auckland

Dated

21st December 2007

Number

2007-097

Programme

One News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – item showed footage of female strippers dancing in a strip club – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – majority – broadcaster was sufficiently mindful of the interests of child viewers – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  An item on One News, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 21 August 2007, reported on the controversy in Australia following an admission by an Australian politician that he had visited a strip club while in New York. The reporter then questioned several New Zealand MPs about whether they had ever been to a strip club.

[2]   During the course of the item, footage was shown of female strippers dancing in a strip club. This included footage of a woman bending forwards and removing her shorts to expose her naked buttocks in a g-string, and a woman hanging upside down on a pole removing her bra. No nudity was shown.

Complaint

[3]   Kristian Harang made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the footage from the strip club was in breach of broadcasting standards.

[4]   The complainant argued that the item was broadcast during “family viewing time” and that the scenes from the strip club were offensive.

Standards

[5]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. These provide:

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.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times, broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6]   TVNZ maintained that for an item to constitute a breach of good taste and decency, it must be unacceptable to a significant number of viewers in the context in which it was shown. It argued that One News was an unclassified news programme and that the programme had an adult target audience. It believed that “the tone of the footage was not salacious or gratuitous” and that the footage did not contain any nudity. TVNZ pointed out that the women in the pole dancing footage were wearing tops and shorts, and that the scenes were not prurient or explicit.

[7]   The broadcaster argued that a significant number of viewers would not have found the “short view of women in the strip club unacceptable in the context in which it was used”, and it declined to uphold a breach of Standard 1.

[8]   In terms of children’s interests, TVNZ noted that news programmes are unclassified and reiterated that the item had not contained any nudity. It maintained that the footage would not have disturbed or alarmed children as it was “relatively discreet” and “inexplicit”. The broadcaster believed that the footage complained of was relevant in the context of the item “as it served as a visual reminder” of what politicians had admitted being party to.

[9]   TVNZ pointed out that the item “was introduced as being about politicians who admit they have visited strip clubs” and that this would have notified parents of the report’s subject matter. The broadcaster argued that it had sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers and declined to uphold the children’s interests complaint.   

Referral to the Authority

[10]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Harang referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant argued that strip clubs are restricted to persons 18 years of age or older, and that showing scenes from such an establishment during family viewing time was a breach of good taste and decency. He also maintained that the item should have been preceded by a warning “telling viewers of the offensive strip club scenes”.  

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[11]   TVNZ argued that the item did not require a warning as it did not contain any nudity. It maintained that the audience had been made aware at the beginning of the item that it concerned MPs visiting strip clubs.

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.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[13]   When the Authority considers a complaint that alleges a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into consideration the context of the broadcast. The relevant contextual factors on this occasion include:

  • One News is unclassified and targeted at an adult audience
  • the footage was relevant to the news item
  • the footage was dark and grainy
  • no nudity was shown.

[14]   The strip club footage used in the item provoked a variety of opinions among Authority members. These ranged from considering the footage to be unremarkable through to challenging and unnecessarily provocative.

[15]   After much discussion and consideration, two members of the Authority (Joanne Morris and Tapu Misa) conclude that the footage was not “relatively discrete” or “inexplicit” as argued by the broadcaster. They find that the movements being made by the women were sexual and provocative in nature. Further, although no nudity was shown, Ms Morris and Ms Misa consider that the footage of the woman’s buttocks as she bent over and removed a piece of her clothing was unnecessarily protracted.

[16]   However, taking into account the contextual factors above, the Authority considers that the broadcast did not breach standards of good taste and decency.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[17]   Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times. A majority of the Authority (Joanne Morris, Diane Musgrave and Paul France) is of the view that the broadcaster met the requirements of this standard on this occasion. As outlined above, the majority considers that the footage was dark and grainy, and no nudity was shown. It also considers that unaccompanied young children are unlikely to choose to watch news programmes. Accordingly, the majority finds that the broadcaster gave sufficient consideration to the interests of child viewers and it declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 9.

[18]   A minority of the Authority (Tapu Misa) disagrees. The minority finds that the strip club footage was gratuitous and chosen to be deliberately provocative. While considering that this footage would have been acceptable in the late news, the minority is of the view that broadcasters should recognise that parents and children watch the 6pm news together. Because the footage was broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times without a warning, the minority concludes that the broadcaster was not sufficiently mindful of the interests of child viewers. The minority would uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 9.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
21 December 2007

Appendix

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

1.            Kristian Harang’s formal complaint – 21 August 2007
2.           TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 19 September 2007
3.           Mr Harang’s referral to the Authority – 26 September 2007
4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 30 October 2007