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Henderson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-122

Members

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

Complainant

  • Boyd Henderson of Auckland

Dated

19th February 2008

Number

2007-122

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 women with bare breasts, and women in their underwear – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, and children’s interests standards 

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – images of semi-naked women were not sexualised or salacious – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – programme classified PGR – broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers – 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 7 September 2007, contained video footage of women with bare breasts and women in their underwear.

[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.

Complaint

[3]   Boyd Henderson made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item had breached standards of good taste and decency.

[4]   The complainant argued that the item contained “frontal nudity and large numbers of women baring their breasts in skimpy briefs”, and that this was in breach of standards of good taste and decency.

[5]   Mr Henderson considered the warning was insufficient and was being used by the broadcaster to “flout the age-time classification bands” set out in Appendix 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

Standards

[6]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 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

Referral to the Authority

[7]   Having received no response from the broadcaster, Mr Henderson referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated the arguments put forward in his original complaint.

[8]   The complainant referred to a previous decision by the Authority (Decision No. 2007-065) that related to a sex scene contained in an episode of Shortland Street. In that decision the Authority had found that while the scene did not contain any nudity, it was challenging for a broadcast between 7 and 7.30pm. He argued that because How to Look Good Naked contained actual nudity in a broadcast at 7.30pm, it was in breach of Standard 1.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[9]   TVNZ stated that it had sent a letter to Mr Henderson after receiving his formal complaint, but that it must have gone astray in the mail.

[10]   The broadcaster contended 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 the warning gave parents “ample opportunity to decide if the content was suitable for child viewers”.

[11]   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.

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

[13]   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 make-overs”. It argued that the point of showing the “quick views of these semi-naked normal sized women” was to counter the prevailing view in the media that the ideal female form is size zero.

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

[15]   With respect to children’s interests, TVNZ argued that the item 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 it had adequately considered the interests of child viewers and it declined to uphold the children’s interests complaint.    

[16]   The broadcaster maintained that the nudity contained in the programme was not sexualised, and so it differed from the sex scene in Shortland Street referred to by the complainant. It found that no standards had been breached.

Authority's Determination

[17]   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.

[18]   The Authority notes that the complainant did not receive a response from the broadcaster within the 20 working day timeframe allowed under the Broadcasting Act 1989. It accepts the broadcaster’s explanation that a response was sent, but not received.

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 consideration 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 shots of women with bare breasts and women in their underwear. However, it is of the view that the shots were 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 semi-naked shots of 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 in which some women chose to be topless and others either covered themselves with their hands or wore underwear. It finds that the tone of the programme was supportive rather than exploitative. Taking the above contextual factors into account, 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 semi-naked women contained in the item were not sexualised or intended to titillate viewers. It also notes that the programme was rated 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.

 

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.            Boyd Henderson’s formal complaint – 18 September 2007
2.           Mr Henderson’s referral to the Authority – 3 November 2007
3.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 30 November 2007