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James and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2004-024

Members

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

Complainant

  • David Ronalds of Lower Hutt

Dated

1st April 2004

Number

2004-024

Channel/Station

TV2

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint
I Dreamed of Africa – film – screened at noon on Sunday – nudity – sexual behaviour – unacceptable at that hour

Findings
Standard 9 – acceptable in context – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision


Summary

[1] The film I Dreamed of Africa was screened on TV2 at 12 noon on Sunday 12 October 2003. It was based on the autobiography of a privileged white woman from Italy who settled in rural Kenya. One scene discreetly showed the woman being undressed by her apparently naked husband and the couple kissing, apparently as a prelude to sex.

[2] David Ronalds complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that such a scene was inappropriate and unacceptable in a film being screened at that time.

[3] In response, TVNZ said the scene could well be interpreted by an innocent child as a reassuring cuddle and an embrace involving a married couple. Children’s interests, it maintained, had been appropriately considered when the film was classified PGR, and it declined to uphold the complaint.

[4] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision Mr Ronalds referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

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

Programme

[6] The film I Dreamed of Africa was based on the autobiography of Kuki Gallman, a privileged white woman who left her home in Italy to live with her new husband in rural Kenya. Midway through the film there was a scene between the characters playing the husband and the wife. They embrace and the wife’s gown is removed. The woman is shown from behind and from the waist up and her body conceals the apparent nakedness of her husband. No sex is shown.

Complaint

[7] David Ronalds complained to TVNZ that the scene was entirely inappropriate in a film broadcast at midday on Sunday. Explaining that he had three daughters under the age of five years, Mr Ronalds contended that the film was trying to steal their innocence.

Standards

[8] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which reads:

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1) , broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[9] With regard to the reference to innocence, TVNZ contended that young children would see the scene as reflecting a reassuring cuddle and embrace involving a married couple. There was nothing shown, it wrote, which implied sexual activity and it considered that the film was appropriately classified PGR.

[10] On the basis of the inexplicit nature of the scene and the PGR classification, TVNZ maintained that the interests of children had been considered. It declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[11] Mr Ronalds accepted that TVNZ had accurately described the scene he found offensive and maintained, because it was sexual in nature, it should not have been screened in a film shown at midday. The removal of the woman’s clothing by her husband while standing naked in front of her, he wrote, was “a lot more than a reassuring cuddle and embrace”.

TVNZ’s Response to the Authority

[12] TVNZ maintained that the scene was not inappropriate in a film rated PGR.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[13] Mr Ronalds did not dispute that the film might have been correctly classified as PGR but, he added, it was “pretty close” to AO. He stressed that he objected to the broadcast of the scene at 12.00 noon on a Sunday when children were at home. He acknowledged that neither breasts nor genitals were shown but, he added, “not much is left to the imagination” and “children do not need to see a scene like that”.

Authority’s Determination

[14] The Authority points out that the time 9am–4pm on both Saturday and Sunday is classified PGR. The Code defines PGR as:

Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult.

[15] Mr Ronalds complained that the item breached Standard 9 which requires broadcasters to consider the interests of children during “children’s normally accepted viewing time”. The film I Dreamed of Africa was broadcast at 12 noon on a Sunday. On the basis that the brief scene, which was appropriate to the story-line, showed the bare back of a married woman with her husband and their brief embrace, the Authority is of the view that it was acceptable at noon on a Sunday, which is within “children’s normally accepted viewing time”.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
1 April 2004

Appendix

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

1.  David Ronalds’s Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 13 October 2003

2. TVNZ’s Response to Mr Ronalds – 6 November 2003

3. Mr Ronalds’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 19 November 2003

4. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 5 December 2003

5. Mr Ronalds’ Final Comment – 8 January 2004


PGR programmes are programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult. PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and after 7pm until 6am.