Skip to main content

Hoskin and CanWest TVWorks Ltd - 2005-077

Members

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

Complainant

  • Graham Hoskin of Wanganui

Dated

28th September 2005

Number

2005-077

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

CanWest TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
The Mummy Returns promo – broadcast on TV3 between 6pm and 7pm, and after 7pm – allegedly in breach of standards relating to children’s interests

Findings
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – 60 Minutes – not in breach of children’s interests – not upheld – 3 News – PGR rated promo broadcast during underlying G-time – children’s interest not sufficiently considered – upheld

No Order

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] TV3 broadcast two promos for the movie The Mummy Returns on 25 April 2005. The first promo was broadcast between 6 and 7pm during 3 News. The second promo was broadcast after 7pm, during 60 Minutes.

Complaint

[2] Graham Hoskin complained to CanWest TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the broadcasts were in breach of Standard 9 (children’s interests), noting specifically Guidelines 9a, 9f and 9i. He considered that, by allowing promos to be shown at those times, programmers were behaving unprofessionally and were not being socially responsible.

Standards

[3] CanWest assessed the complaint under Standard 9 and Guidelines 9a and 9f of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:

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.

Guidelines

9a   Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm – and avoid screening material which would disturb or alarm them.

9f   "Scary" themes are not necessarily unsuitable for older children, but care should be taken to ensure that realistically menacing or horrifying imagery is not included.

CanWest did not consider the complaint with reference to Guideline 9i, which provides

Guideline 9i

Broadcasters should recognise the rights of children and young people not to be exploited, humiliated or unnecessarily identified.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] In its response to the complaint, CanWest observed that the promo was rated “PGR including news”, and noted that this meant that it was not scheduled during programmes specifically aimed at child audiences. It did, however, maintain that this enabled it to be screened during the unclassified 3 News.

[5] The broadcaster noted that the content of The Mummy Returns promo was filled with action and special effects, but that no realistic violence was shown. It considered that the nature of the footage shown ensured that the viewer was very aware that what was broadcast did not relate to reality. It further noted that the images included in the promo were not what had caused the AO-rating of the movie.

[6] CanWest observed that both 3 News and 60 Minutes were aimed at a mature audience. It pointed out that it was the nature of news and current affairs programmes to contain realistic violence. It also noted that current affairs reports were not appropriate, and could indeed be disturbing, to child viewers without the guidance of a parent or adult.

[7] CanWest was of the view that the promo was appropriately classified, and considered that, given the nature of 3 News and 60 Minutes, any child viewing would be doing so with the supervision of a parent or other adult.

[8] It noted the content of 3 News included an item on ANZAC day, as well as on a commuter train that had run into a building, killing hundreds. It further noted that 60 Minutes, which screened in PGR time, included items on a man bitten by a great white shark; the U.S Army’s torture of a suspected terrorist; and a story on a child genius. It considered that the promo was not out of place in these programmes.

[9] CanWest considered that because the promo was assigned a rating which excluded it from screening in programmes aimed at child viewers, and it was scheduled correctly according to this rating throughout the week, no breach of Standard 9 occurred.

Referral to the Authority

[10] Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Hoskin referred his complaint to the Authority under s8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act. Responding to the broadcaster’s decision, Mr Hoskin questioned how it was possible that an AO programme could be promoted in a PGR time period. He considered that “picking out” PGR “moments” in an AO film opened up the system for misuse.

[11] He maintained that the promo for The Mummy Returns was a breach of Standard 9, particularly taking into account Guideline 9f. He asked what the definition of “scary images and horrifying imagery” was, and made reference to article 3(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

[12] Mr Hoskin considered that a person changing into a skeleton image and resembling a ghost was, for a child, a scary and horrifying image. Even if it was not real, he wrote, it was a frightening scene for a younger child.

[13] He drew the Authority’s attention to CanWest’s statement that “PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and after 7pm, until 6am”. He did not consider that the promo for The Mummy Returns was thus able to be broadcast between 6pm and 7pm. He considered that it clearly breached the time frames and should not have been shown.

[14] He also noted CanWest’s claim that both 3 News and 60 Minutes were aimed at mature audiences. However, he observed, news and current affairs programmes were not subject to censorship “or the strictures of the classifications system”.

[15] Mr Hoskin questioned why, when news programmes were unclassified, 3 News was aimed at a mature audience. He considered that in doing this, TV3 ignored the fact that young people might be watching.

[16] He considered that by putting a PGR promo like The Mummy Returns on during the news hour, CanWest was essentially “classifying” the news as a PGR programme.

Authority's Determination

[17] The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[18] Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers. In accordance with Guideline 9a, broadcasters should avoid screening material which would disturb or alarm children during their normally accepted viewing times. Guideline 9i, nominated by the complainant, is not relevant as the broadcast did not involve the humiliation or exploitation of children.

[19] The two promos were both rated PGR by the broadcaster. The Authority agrees with this rating. Any violence shown was implied rather than explicit, and while the promos contained some material more suitable for mature audiences, it was not necessarily unsuitable for a child viewer subject to the guidance of a parent or adult.

60 Minutes 

[20] The PGR timeband commences at 7pm. Taking into account the mature target audience of 60 Minutes, the Authority considers that CanWest adequately considered the interests of child viewers in broadcasting the PGR promo at 7.36pm.

3 News

[21] The rules in respect of promos in the news hour were changed from 1 July 2005, by an amendment to the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. Accordingly, different criteria now apply; as of 1 July 2005, PGR-rated promos in the news hour that take sufficient account of children’s interests will not breach Standard 9. The present case, however, concerns a broadcast prior to 1 July, and thus the earlier standards apply.

[22] The Authority recognises that, in order to protect the public interest in genuinely newsworthy issues being reported, news and current affairs programmes are not themselves subject to programme classification standards. Nevertheless, the Authority has previously determined, under the rules that applied before 1 July 2005 (Decision No. 2003-138/140), that the broadcast of PGR-rated promos during the unclassified 6pm news hour displayed insufficient consideration for children’s interests. The present complaint relates to the same situation.

[23] In light of the Authority’s earlier decision, it concludes in this case that by broadcasting a PGR-rated promo during the underlying G-time of the news hour, CanWest showed insufficient consideration of children’s interests and breached Standard 9.

[24] For the avoidance of doubt, the Authority records that it has given full weight to the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and taken into account all the circumstances of the complaint in reaching this determination. For the reasons given above, the Authority considers that its exercise of powers on this occasion is consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

 

For the above reasons the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast by CanWest TVWorks Ltd of a promo for The Mummy Returns during 3 News on 25 April 2005 breached Standard 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[25] Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may impose orders under ss13 and 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. In view of the recent change to the Code, the Authority does not intend to impose orders on this occasion.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
28 September 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Graham Hoskins’ formal complaint to CanWest TVWorks – 19 May 2005
  2. CanWest’s response to the formal complaint – 22 June 2005
  3. Mr Hoskin’s referral to the Authority – 27 June 2005
  4. CanWest’s response to the referral – 4 July 2005