Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Benidorm – showed a man being slapped in the face by two different women – allegedly in breach of law and order, children’s interests and violence standards
Standard 2 (law and order) – promo did not encourage viewers to break the law or promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity – not upheld
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers – not upheld
Standard 10 (violence) – violence was slapstick humour – broadcaster exercised care and discretion – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 A promo for three comedy programmes Bonkers, Benidorm and The Sunshine Girls was broadcast on TV One at 12.27pm on Thursday 18 October 2007. It included a scene from the comedy programme Benidorm in which a man was slapped in the face by two different women.
 Edwin Stranaghan made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo breached law and order, children’s interests and violence standards.
 The complainant argued that the promo contained anti-social behaviour in the form of “assaults”. The assaults were in the form of “two separate incidents, each showing a woman whacking a man hard around the head with their hands”.
 Mr Stranaghan considered that the promo “depicted conduct which would disturb or alarm children” in that it depicted assaults “at a time when society has become increasingly concerned with family violence”. He maintained that the promo had been broadcast at different times during the early afternoon and recalled one screening “at about 2.45pm”.
 The complainant argued that “this sort of depiction is not regarded as acceptable when it is violence towards women, and it is sexist to allow it in respect of violence towards men”.
 TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 2, 9 and 10 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. These 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 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.
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.
 With respect to the law and order standard, TVNZ stated that the “promo featured a number of comedy programmes where the protagonists were not doing well in terms of their relationships”. It maintained that as a comedy, the events and actions of the characters were over the top and not meant to be seen as realistic. The broadcaster considered that physical humour was a well known feature of comedy and that viewers would not have seen the promo as promoting disrespect for the law. It declined to uphold the complaint that the promo breached Standard 2.
 TVNZ noted that the promo had screened between One News and The Young and the Restless, which were both aimed at mature viewers. It also noted that the promo was broadcast at 12.27pm on a weekday during term time and that AO (adults only) programming was allowed to be broadcast during this time. It noted that One News was unclassified and The Young and the Restless was classified PGR (parental guidance recommended). It was of the opinion that the material contained in the promo was acceptable for broadcast during a PGR-rated host programme and in between two programmes aimed at adult viewers.
 The broadcaster maintained that the action in the promo was unrealistic and intended to be humorous, and that nothing in the promo would have disturbed or alarmed child viewers. It found no breach of the children’s interests standard.
 With respect to violence, TVNZ stated that the scene was theatrical and that programmes often showed actions that would not be acceptable in real life such as the crimes committed in murder mysteries or other similar shows. It argued that the scene was more “slapstick” than violent and was unlikely to upset viewers.
 The broadcaster maintained that “the footage in the promo is acceptable in a PGR-rated programme aimed at adult viewers”. It declined to uphold the violence complaint.
 Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Stranaghan 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.
 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 previous 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.
 On this occasion, the Authority considers that viewers would have appreciated that the characters’ actions were unrealistic and exaggerated, and were used for comedic effect. It finds that the promo did not encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the item was in breach of Standard 2 (law and order).
 The complainant argued that the promo depicted conduct that would disturb or alarm children. The Authority notes that the promo was broadcast at 12.27pm between One News,which is unclassified,and the adult soap opera The Young and the Restless, which has a PGR classification. It also takes into account that the promo was broadcast on a weekday (during the school term) and at a time when AO programmes can be screened.
 The Authority agrees with the broadcaster that the promo did not contain any material that was unacceptable in the context of a PGR-rated host programme, and screening between two programmes that were aimed at adult viewers. It finds that the broadcaster gave sufficient consideration to the interests of child viewers by broadcasting the promo at this time. The Authority declines to uphold the children’s interests complaint.
 As discussed above, the Authority is of the view that the scene in the promo was “slapstick” comedy which was intended to be humorous. This was reinforced by the fact that the character who was hit did not appear to be physically hurt by the encounter.
 In the context of a promo broadcast during a PGR-rated programme, the Authority considers that the broadcaster exercised sufficient care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold the violence complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaints.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
26 March 2008
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Edwin Stranaghan’s formal complaint – 12 October 2007
2. TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 12 November 2007
3. Mr Stranaghan’s referral to the Authority – 22 November 2007
4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 February 2008