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Cheyne and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-116

Members

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

Complainant

  • Peter Cheyne of Gore

Dated

19th February 2008

Number

2007-116

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
How to Look Good Naked – episode contained images of bare breasts and buttocks, and brief frontal shots of two naked women – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, programme classification and children’s interests standards  

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – images of naked women not sexualised or intended to titillate – contextual factors – not upheld

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

Standard 7 (programme classification) – programme was appropriately classified PGR – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An episode of How to Look Good Naked, broadcast on TV One at 7.30pm on 31 August 2007, contained video footage of a number of women featuring bare breasts, buttocks and two brief full frontal shots of naked women. 

[2]   The episode was preceded by a visual and verbal warning that stated:

This programme is rated PGR. It contains nudity that may offend some people and may not be suitable for a younger audience. We recommend the guidance of a parent or other adult.

Complainant

[3]   Peter Cheyne made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item had breached standards of good taste and decency, programme classification and children’s interests.

[4]   The complainant argued that showing nudity including women’s breasts, buttocks and pubic area “was in poor taste at any time” and unacceptable at 7.30pm. He believed that the warning given prior to the item being broadcast “was an admission that the programme was unacceptable”.

[5]   Mr Cheyne considered that the use of nudity in the item was unnecessary and that while the aim of the programme was to help women who did not have perfect bodies feel good about their appearance, the nudity shown was designed to titillate viewers.

[6]   The complainant stated that there was no reason why a programme such as this should be broadcast at 7.30pm when families would be watching. He maintained that broadcasting this type of material during family viewing times was irresponsible, especially because many unsupervised children would have been watching television at this time. Mr Cheyne believed that the programme should have been classified AO (Adults Only).

[7]   Mr Cheyne argued that “if the private parts of attractive models were broadcast at this time there would be an outcry” and the use of larger, vulnerable women was exploitative.  

Standards

[8]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 1, 7 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 7 Programme Classification

Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified; adequately display programme classification information; and adhere to time-bands.

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

[9]   TVNZ stated that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the material shown must be unacceptable to a significant number of viewers in the context in which it was shown. It argued that the item’s PGR classification gave a precise indication of the type of material contained in the programme and gave parents “ample opportunity to decide if the content was suitable for child viewers”.

[10]   The broadcaster considered that nudity per se was not an offence against good taste and decency and that there were occasions when nudity, both male and female, was acceptable for broadcast.

[11]   TVNZ believed that the programme did not seek to titillate viewers. It maintained that the tone of the item and the way in which women’s bodies were shown was appropriate for a PGR-rated programme.

[12]   The broadcaster was of the view that the point of the programme was to “help ordinary women with low self esteem feel better about themselves, without resorting to plastic surgery or extreme makeovers”. It argued that the point of showing the “quick views of these naked normal sized women” was to counter the prevailing view in the media that the ideal female form is size zero.

[13]   TVNZ considered that the nudity shown in the item was “innocent and was not shown in a sexualised manner”, and it declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency).

[14]   The broadcaster was of the opinion that the episode was appropriately classified PGR and pointed out that it had been preceded by a warning stating that it contained nudity. It found there had been no breach of the programme classification standard.

[15]   With respect to children’s interests, TVNZ argued that the item was correctly rated and did not contain any material that would have disturbed or alarmed child viewers. It stated that the material contained in the programme was consistent with previous Broadcasting Standards Authority rulings on nudity in programming screening in G and PGR time-bands. The broadcaster considered that that it had adequately considered the interests of child viewers and declined to uphold the children’s interests complaint.     

Referral to the Authority

[16]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Cheyne referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant reiterated the arguments contained in his original complaint.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[17]   TVNZ maintained that the material contained in the programme was not AO in nature and that it had had a positive reception from both women and parents.

Authority's Determination

[18]   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)

[19]   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 item was broadcast at 7.30pm during the PGR time-band
  • the item was preceded by a verbal and written warning
  • the title of the programme, How to Look Good Naked, gave an indication of its likely content
  • the item was classified PGR.

[20]   The Authority notes that the episode complained about contained two brief full-frontal shots of naked women, and numerous shots of women with bare breasts. In the Authority’s view, the nudity contained in the item was fleeting and non-sexual. It also notes that the spirit of the programme was intended to be uplifting rather than salacious or titillating.

[21]   The Authority considers that the images of naked and semi-naked women were not gratuitous and were intended to emphasise the fact that people come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and that some people are more comfortable with their bodies than others. This was evident from the way that some of the women chose to be shown completely naked and others either covered themselves with their hands or wore underwear. It also finds that the tone of the programme was supportive rather than exploitative. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the Standard 1 (good taste and decency) complaint.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[22]   Standard 9 states that during children’s normally accepted viewing times, broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

[23]   As mentioned above, the Authority considers that the images of naked and semi-naked women were not salacious, sexualised or intended to titillate viewers. It also notes that the programme was classified PGR and was preceded with both a verbal and visual warning, and that the title gave a good indication of its likely content.   

[24]   Taking into account the above factors, the Authority concludes that the broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers on this occasion. Accordingly, it declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 9.

Standard 7 (programme classification)

[25]   How to Look Good Naked is classified PGR (Parental Guidance Recommended). Programmes classified PGR contain material more suited for mature audiences, but are not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or adult.

[26]   In the Authority’s view, the programme’s PGR classification was appropriate when taking into consideration the type of material it contained. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the programme classification complaint. 

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
19 February 2008

Appendix

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

1.            Peter Cheyne’s formal complaint – 1 September 2007
2.           TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 28 September 2007
3.           Mr Cheyne’s referral to the Authority – 29 October 2007
4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 5 December 2007