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McNaughton and Prime Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-109

Members

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

Complainant

  • Jeannie McNaughton of Papamoa

Dated

28th November 2005

Number

2005-109

Channel/Station

Prime TV

Broadcaster

Prime Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
A Thing Called Love – promo – AO rated programme – promo screened at 7.10pm – PGR time band – host programme rated G – allegedly offensive, contrary to children’s interests and incorrectly classified

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

Standard 7 (programme classification) – PGR-rated promo broadcast during G-rated host programme in breach regardless of time band – upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – majority – PGR rating acknowledged children’s interests – minority – promo should have been rated AO – not upheld

No Order

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] A promo for the AO-classified programme, A Thing Called Love, was screened on Prime Television around 7.10pm on 19 August 2005, during the PGR time band. The promo was rated PGR by the broadcaster and the host programme was the G-rated Temptation.

Complaint

[2] Jeannie McNaughton complained to Prime Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the broadcast of the promo at that time breached the standards relating to good taste and decency, programme classification, and children’s interests.

[3] It breached the good taste and decency standard, she wrote, as the dialogue about sex and the visuals of barely clothed people were not preceded by a warning. It breached the classification standard as it was broadcast during a G-classified programme. Finally, it breached children’s interests as it was screened during children’s normal viewing times.

[4] Ms McNaughton noted that the same promo was also screened regularly during G-rated programmes on 21 August.

Standards

[5] Ms McNaughton nominated the following standards in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

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.

Guideline 1a

Broadcasters must take into consideration current norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs. Examples of context are the time of the broadcast, the type of programme, the target audience, the use of warnings and the programme’s classification. The examples are not exhaustive.

Standard 7 Programme Classification

Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified; adequately display programme classification information; and adhere to time-bands in accordance with Appendix 1.

Guideline 7b

Broadcasters should ensure that all promos (including promos for news and current affairs) are classified to comply with the programme in which they screen (“host programme”). For example:

  • promos for AO programmes shown outside Adults Only time must comply with the classification of host programme
  • promos shown in G or PGR programmes screening in AO time must comply with the G or PGR classification of their host programme
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.

9c   Broadcasters should have regard to the fact that children tend to stay up later than usual on Friday and Saturday nights and during school and public holidays and, accordingly, special attention should be given to providing appropriate warnings during these periods.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6] Prime acknowledged that A Thing Called Love was classified AO. However, it pointed out that it had rated the promo as PGR and broadcast it appropriately during the PGR time band. It maintained that the language and content of the promo was acceptable as PGR material and it declined to uphold the complaint.

[7] Nonetheless, Prime added, it had reminded staff of the requirement in the Television Code to ensure that there were no doubts about the suitability of promos at the time they were screened.

Referral to the Authority

[8] Dissatisfied with Prime’s decision, Mrs McNaughton referred her complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[9] Ms McNaughton expressed concern that Prime considered that the content of the promo for an AO programme was suitable for broadcast during a G-rated programme. Outlining some of the content of the promo, Ms McNaughton said it was not the usual material contained in a PGR-rated promo.

[10] Nevertheless, she added, even if it was rated PGR, in her view it breached the requirement that promos for AO programmes comply with the classification of the host programme. The host programme on this occasion, a quiz show called Temptation, was rated G.

[11] Ms McNaughton contended that a breach of Standard 7 amounted to a breach of Standards 1 and 9.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[12] Contrary to its earlier response, Prime acknowledged that the broadcast of the promo during the G-rated Temptation breached Standard 7. Until an amendment to Standard 7 which became effective on 1 July 2005, Prime noted, it had been acceptable to broadcast a PGR-rated promo for an AO programme during the PGR time band. Now, however, the promo had to comply with the rating of the host programme.

[13] Prime wrote:

Prime Television (NZ) Ltd has issued to all staff concerned a reminder as to the new Code as it applies to Promos, to ensure that in the future our programme promotions conform with the Code.

I leave it to the BSA as to how they wish to handle this complaint in the light of the above.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[14] Mrs McNaughton maintained that the content of the promo was AO and, in addition, to the breach of Standard 7 (classification) which Prime acknowledged, it was a breach of Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 9 (children’s interests). She considered that a promo which included sex talk and showing a female beginning to strip was not suitable for children even when subject to the guidance of an adult.

Further Correspondence

[15] In response, Prime noted that the complaints process would evaluate the content of specific promos, adding:

Any judgements as to whether an individual promo conforms or not will be dealt with as a result of the normal complaints procedure.

Authority's Determination

[16] 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.

[17] The Authority’s initial task is to review the promo’s classification. A majority of the Authority agrees with the argument advanced by Prime that the language and content of the promo meant that a PGR rating was appropriate. It was not unsuitable for child viewers, the majority finds, when subject to the guidance of an adult.

[18] A minority (Tapu Misa) disagrees. In view of the promo’s references to sex and the visuals of a woman undressing, she considers that it dealt with adult themes and should have been rated AO.

[19] The Authority’s variation in views does not affect its overall decision on the programme classification complaint. In notes the specific direction contained in guideline 7b – that the rating of a promo must comply with the rating of the host programme. Given that on this occasion a promo not rated G was broadcast during a G-rated host programme, the Authority upholds the complaint that the broadcast of the promo breached Standard 7.

[20] The Authority is unanimous that the broadcast does not breach the requirement for good taste and decency in Standard 1. The context of the broadcast is always relevant when determining an allegation that a broadcast has breached this standard. Taking into account the time of the broadcast (about 7.10pm, during the PGR time-band) and the relative brevity of the promo, the Authority concludes that Standard 1 was not threatened.

[21] The Authority’s difference about the classification of the promo means that it is divided in its decision on the complaint that the broadcaster failed to consider the interests of children pursuant to Standard 9.

[22] The majority considers that the action by Prime, in classifying the promo as PGR and screening it during the PGR time-band, indicated that it had taken into account the interests of children and had complied with Standard 9.

[23] The minority contends that the broadcast of the promo which should have been classified as AO, in the PGR time-band, and during a G-rated programme, indicated that the broadcaster had failed to sufficiently consider the interests of children.

[24] The majority of the Authority nonetheless declines to uphold the complaint that the broadcast breached Standard 9.

Bill of Rights

[25] 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 Prime Television New Zealand Ltd of a PGR-rated promo during a G-rated host programme on 19 August 2005 breached Standard 7 of the Free-To-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

It declines to uphold any other complaint.

[26] Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may impose an order under ss.13 or 16 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. It does not intend to impose an order on this occasion in view of the recent change to the Television Code. Because of concerns about the content of promos and the applicable standards raised both by complainants and broadcasters over a number of years, the Authority recently held discussions with representatives from broadcasters and the community about their placement. The parties agreed that an amendment to guideline 7b was appropriate and the change became effective from 1 July this year.

[27] While the broadcast of the promo on this occasion would have complied with the previous guideline, it failed to comply with the recently amended provision. The Authority now expects Prime to comply with the amended guideline and notes that any further breach may result in the imposition of an order.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
28 November 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Jeannie McNaughton’s complaint to Prime Television (New Zealand) Ltd – 22 August 2005
  2. Prime’s response to the complainant – 7 September 2005
  3. Ms McNaughton’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 12 September 2005
  4. Prime’s response to the Authority – 20 September 2005
  5. Ms McNaughton’s final comment – 29 September 2005
  6. Prime’s response – 10 October 2005