Skip to main content

Hooker and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 2002-027

Members

  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • R Bryant
  • B Hayward
  • J H McGregor

Complainant

  • Michael Hooker of Auckland

Dated

14th March 2002

Number

2002-027

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TV3 Network Services Ltd


Complaint
The Bits in Between sexual/adult themes – offensive – incorrect classification – broadcaster not mindful of the programme’s effect on children

Findings
Standard G2 – context – no uphold

Standard G8 – PGR rating correct – no uphold

Standard G12 – correct classification and time of broadcast – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

[1] The Bits in Between was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 24 September 2001.

[2] Michael Hooker complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the programme contained sexual themes which were outside accepted norms of good taste and decency. He also considered that the programme was incorrectly classified and that the broadcaster had not been mindful of the programme’s effect on children.

[3] TV3 declined to uphold the complaint. It did not consider that that the programme breached any of the standards to which Mr Hooker had referred in his complaint.

[4] Dissatisfied with TV3’s decision, Mr Hooker referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

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

Decision

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

The Programme

[6] The Bits in Between was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 24 September 2001. According to TV3’s description of the programme:

THE BITS IN BETWEEN takes a humorous look at the best worst and funniest ads from around the world.

The Complaint

[7] Michael Hooker complained to TV3 that the programme:

contained sexual themes outside the accepted norms of taste and decency in the context of before the watershed.

[8] Mr Hooker also considered that the programme should have been rated AO, as its theme was sex. Mr Hooker said that sex was "obviously an adult theme". He also submitted that the broadcaster had breached its obligation to be mindful of the effect of the programme on children.

The Standards

[9] Mr Hooker requested that his complaint be assessed under standards G2, G8 and G12 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. Those standards require broadcasters:

G2 To take into consideration currently accepted norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour, bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs.

G8 To abide by the classification codes and their appropriate time bands as outlined in the agreed criteria for classification.

G12 To be mindful of the effect any programme may have on children during their normally accepted viewing hours.

TV3’s Response to the Complaint

[10] TV3 did not uphold Mr Hooker’s complaint. In responding, it maintained that the programme had been correctly rated PGR, as:

None of the content of the programme was sexually explicit or inappropriate for the PGR rating and time slot.

[11] TV3 then noted that, as Mr Hooker had not provided specific details, it had been very difficult for it to determine which "bits" of the programme formed the basis of his complaint. However, it submitted:

None of [the programme’s] content was unsuitable for the PGR rating and timeslot. [TV3] also finds that the overwhelming impression of the programme is not one of sexual material.

[12] In relation to standard G2, TV3 found that the tone of the programme was acceptable in the context of a PGR programme. It commented that the advertisements featured were not explicit and did not require an AO rating.

[13] As to standard G8, TV3 did not accept that the programme was incorrectly classified.

[14] TV3 disagreed with Mr Hooker’s contention that sex was "obviously an adult theme". It explained that an AO rating meant that a programme was unsuitable for persons under 18 years of age, and that the legal age of consent (for sexual intercourse) was 16 years of age. It continued:

Obviously the differences between PGR sexual material and AO sexual material are to be found in the way the material is handled. For example, a documentary with legitimate educational information about the human body and sexual matters may be correctly rated PGR, whereas a film with raunchy sex scenes and nudity may be correctly rated AO. In the case of THE BITS IN BETWEEN, there are no sex scenes nor is sex the main theme of the programme. [TV3] therefore finds that the rating of PGR is correct for the programme and declines to uphold a breach of standard G12.

Mr Hooker’s Referral to the Authority

[15] In his referral to the Authority, Mr Hooker referred to specific advertisements included in the programme which he considered contained sexual content. He also referred to aspects of the Authority’s research which he said supported his claim that the broadcast of The Bits in Between breached broadcasting standards.

[16] Mr Hooker then disagreed with TV3’s contention that the overwhelming impression of the programme was not one of sexual or adult themes. In his view, there was sufficient sexual material, both direct and implied, to leave the viewer with the overall impression that sex was a predominant theme of the programme.

[17] Furthermore, Mr Hooker submitted that

Programmes that have an adult theme as a component are by definition containing an adult theme and therefore should be rated AO. I also consider the programme breached standard G8 because it contained material unsuitable for persons under 18 years of age because of the way the material was handled and was unsuitable for child viewers even when subject to the guidance of a parent or adult.

TV3’s Response to the Authority

[18] TV3 explained to the Authority that it did not accept Mr Hooker’s use of the Authority’s research or his definition of "sexual activity". It said that sexual activity, as tested in the Authority’s 1999 survey, involved actors acting out sexual encounters – from the relatively innocent (kissing) to AO type sex scenes. This type of "sexual activity" did not occur in the programme.

The Authority’s Determination

[19] When it determines a complaint about whether a broadcast contravenes standard G2, the Authority is required to determine whether the material complained about breached currently accepted standards of good taste and decency, taking into account the context of the broadcast. The context is relevant, but not decisive, to the Authority’s determination. The Authority considers that relevant contextual matters include the programme’s PGR rating and its broadcast during the PGR time band time of broadcast (7.30pm).

[20] The programme featured a selection of "memorable" and "award winning" advertising from New Zealand and overseas. The Authority notes that advertisements often use appeals to sexuality to sell products. The Authority notes that although there were sexual aspects to many of the advertisements featured in the programme, some of which some members considered came close to constituting a breach of the good taste standard, no sexually explicit material was broadcast. Having considered the contextual matters referred to above, the Authority concludes that standard G2 was not breached.

[21] Standard G8 requires broadcasters to abide by the classification codes and their appropriate time bands. In this case, the Authority considers that the programme was correctly classified as PGR material and was screened at an appropriate time. Accordingly, it does not uphold this aspect of the complaint.

[22] In relation to standard G12, the Authority considers that, by correctly applying a PGR certificate to the programme and screening it within the PGR time band, TV3 demonstrated that it was mindful of the effect of the broadcast on children.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
14 March 2002

Appendix

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

  1. Michael Hooker’s Formal Complaint to TV3 Network Services Ltd – 27 September 2001
  2. TV3’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 25 October 2001
  3. Mr Hooker’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 14 November 2001
  4. TV3’s Response to the Authority – 21 December 2001
  5. Mr Hooker’s Final Comment – 20 January 2002