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Dolan and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2001-096

Members

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

Complainant

  • Tim Dolan of Wellington

Dated

16th August 2001

Number

2001-096

Channel/Station

TV2

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint
America’s Funniest Home Videos home video of girl with frogs in underwear – bad taste – breach of standards relating to protection of children

Findings
Standard G2 – no offensive behaviour – no uphold

Standard G12 – not unsuitable for children – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

A home video broadcast during the programme America’s Funniest Home Videos featured a young girl shown removing a number of frogs from her nappy. The programme was broadcast on TV2 at 5.00pm on 5 May 2001.

Tim Dolan complained to the broadcaster, Television New Zealand Ltd, that the broadcast breached standards relating to good taste and the protection of children. Mr Dolan considered it unlikely that the girl had put the frogs into her own nappy and that she had been coerced into appearing in the video.

TVNZ did not consider that the programme had breached standards. It considered that the home video was almost certainly genuine and was not offensive to adult or child viewers.

Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Mr Dolan referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

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

Decision

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.

A home video broadcast during the programme America’s Funniest Home Videos featured a young girl shown removing a number of frogs from her nappy. The programme was broadcast on TV2 at 5.00pm on 5 May 2001.

Tim Dolan complained to the broadcaster, Television New Zealand Ltd, that the broadcast breached standards relating to good taste and the protection of children. Mr Dolan said it was reasonable to conclude that:

... the frogs had been placed in the child’s nappy by other people, who appeared to be members of her family... [and] that the child was coerced into appearing in the video, in order for the creators of the segment to create a video which some people would consider funny and which would give them a chance of winning money on the show.

TVNZ considered the complaint under standards G2 and G12 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. These standards require broadcasters, in the preparation and presentation of programmes:

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.

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

TVNZ noted that the programme was an entertainment series which featured "home movies, shot by ordinary Americans, which have usually included something unexpected or unusual".

TVNZ considered that the home video was almost certainly genuine, and described as "entirely supposition" the idea that the girl was coerced. In TVNZ’s view, the video was not offensive to adult or child viewers. In relation to standard G2, TVNZ noted:

In removing the frogs from her underwear, the girl did not reveal any private parts.

As to standard G12, TVNZ did not consider that by showing the sequence it had failed to be mindful of the effect the programme might have on children. It said:

It could see no reason why the sequence should be any less amusing to a child than it was to an adult audience. There was no evidence that the child was exploited in any sense.

In referring the complaint to the Authority, Mr Dolan expressed disagreement with TVNZ’s assessment about the authenticity of the video, and with its conclusion that the segment did not breach broadcasting standards. He also considered that TVNZ’s comment that "the girl did not reveal any private parts" should have been irrelevant to its decision.

The Authority’s Findings

The Authority’s task in assessing this complaint under standard G2 is to determine whether the behaviour complained about breached currently accepted norms, in the context in which it occurred.

The Authority takes into account that America’s Funniest Home Videos is an entertainment series which features home videos submitted by members of the public. It observes that these videos are often submitted by family members of those featured and that they depict apparently unplanned events which are caught on camera. As to the material complained about, the Authority was unable to conclude that the child had been exploited or was in any way emotionally exposed, by the broadcast. In all the circumstances the Authority concludes that the item did not contain material which offended against current community norms of good taste and decency, and accordingly finds that standard G2 is not breached.

As to standard G12, the Authority does not consider that the item contained any material which was unsuitable for viewing by children. It declines to uphold this aspect of the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
16 August 2001

Appendix

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

  1. Tim Dolan’s Formal Complaint to TVNZ – 27 May 2001
  2. TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 20 June 2001
  3. Mr Dolan’s Referral to the Authority – 29 June 2001
  4. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 3 July 2001
  5. Mr Dolan’s Final Comment – 8 July 2001