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Ibousi and TVWorks Ltd - 2010-091

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • Aous Ibousi of Auckland

Dated

26th October 2010

Number

2010-091

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Sticky TV
– contained episode of Wizards of Waverly Place – involved teenage characters talking about dating and kissing as well as two characters kissing – Sticky TValso contained a segment called “What Would You Do?” in which a panel of young teenagers gave advice about kissing – allegedly in breach of responsible programming and children’s interests standards


Findings

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – Sticky TV correctly classified G – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – programmes addressed contemporary issues facing teens – broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An episode of Sticky TV was broadcast on TV3 between 3.30pm and 5pm on Tuesday 15 June 2010. Another programme called Wizards of Waverley Place was broadcast in segments as part of Sticky TV.

[2]   During the episode of Wizards of Waverley Place, one of the teenage characters was nervous about kissing his girlfriend for the first time because he had never kissed anyone before. The character’s sister gave him advice on how to go about it and at the end of the episode he was briefly shown kissing his girlfriend in the school corridor.

[3]   After the episode of Wizards of Waverley Place, a segment called “What Would You Do?” was shown in which a panel of young teenagers offered advice to viewers who wrote in with questions. One of the questions was from a boy who asked, “At my friend’s birthday a girl said she wants to kiss me. I really wanted to, but I have no idea how to kiss. How can I learn for next time?”

[4]   The panel suggested practising on his hand, talking to his family or asking older siblings and mentioned that it was a sensitive topic.

Complaint

[5]   Aous Ibousi made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that Sticky TV and Wizards of Waverly Place breached broadcasting standards relating to responsible programming and children’s interests.

[6]   The complainant contended that the material and advice contained in the episode of Sticky TV was “extremely unsuitable of children”. He considered that the episode of Wizards of Waverly Place contained nothing but “dating and kissing” and that such material was “not suitable for minors”.

[7]   Mr Ibousi argued that Wizards of Waverly Place should have been classified PGR rather than G and screened in a later timeslot. He considered that Sticky TV needed to be more closely monitored by the broadcaster to ensure that it did not contain any material that was inappropriate for child viewers.

Standards

[8]   TVWorks assessed the complaint under Standards 8 and 9 and guideline 9a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. They provide:

Standard 8 Responsible Programming

Broadcasters should ensure programmes:

  • are appropriately classified;
  • display programme classification information;
  • adhere to timebands in accordance with Appendix 1;
  • are not presented in such a way as to cause panic, or unwarranted alarm or undue distress; and
  • do not deceive or disadvantage the viewer.
Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.

Guideline 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 that would disturb or alarm them.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[9]   TVWorks said that Sticky TV was an hour-and-a-half of children’s programming hosted by three presenters. It said that the show contained competitions and segments aimed at child viewers and had been a staple of weekday afternoon television on TV3 for six years. It also noted that Wizards of Waverly Place was an award-winning children’s show made by Disney.

[10]   The broadcaster disagreed with the complainant that kissing, in the context in which it was shown on Sticky TV, was not G-rated material. It argued that “most children would not be alarmed or disturbed by the material and that most parents would not consider dating and kissing (as it is presented in these programmes) concerning”.

[11]   TVWorks contended that both programmes intentionally addressed issues that were of interest to older children and handled them in a way that was appropriate and constructive. For example, it said that Wizards of Waverly Place presented the teenage character’s anxiety about his first kiss in a humorous manner by showing all the mistakes that could happen. It noted that the discussion and depiction of kissing was limited to a brief kiss on the lips and did not develop into any sexual material that might warrant a PGR rating.

[12]   The broadcaster argued that Sticky TV’s discussion about kissing was prompted by a viewer’s question indicating that it was a genuine issue for children, and that it was discussed by the panel in a constructive manner. It considered that all the requirements of Standard 8 had been met and it declined to uphold the responsible programming complaint.

[13]   Turning to Standard 9, TVWorks believed that Sticky TV had adequately considered the interests of the programme’s child target audience. It contended that the material which had caused Mr Ibousi concern – the “What Would You Do?” segment – gave children an opportunity to ask advice about things they may not be able to discuss with their parents or friends. It contended that the responses were carefully managed so as to be responsible and constructive and therefore positive and helpful to children.

[14]   The broadcaster stated that, for the reasons outlined in its consideration of Standard 8, the content of Wizards of Waverly Place was appropriate for children. It noted that the programme had won several awards as a children’s television programme and argued that nothing contained in it would have been harmful or disturbing to children.

Referral to the Authority

[15]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Ibousi referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[16]   TVWorks argued that one of the objectives of the “What Would You Do?” segment was to provide a forum in which children could consult their peers. It said the panellists were aged “around fourteen”, were of an age that the target audience were likely to look up to and had the behind-the-scenes support of the production team.

[17]   The broadcaster said that the production team worked with the “What’s Up” youth helpline to research topics for “What Would You Do?” It said that when picking viewer questions for the panel, Sticky TV found the questions that best represented some of the top ten issues and that they consulted with “What’s Up” on how to best answer the questions. It maintained that it had adequately considered the interests of child viewers.

Authority's Determination

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

Standard 8 (responsible programming)

[19]   Standard 8 requires that programmes are correctly classified, display programme classification information, and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code.

[20]   This episode of Sticky TV was rated G (General) and broadcast at 3.30pm. The G classification is defined as follows in Appendix 1 of the Code:

G – General

Programmes which exclude material likely to be unsuitable for children. Programmes may not necessarily be designed for child viewers but should not contain material likely to alarm or distress them.

G programmes may be screened at any time.

[21]   In determining whether this episode of Sticky TV was appropriately given a G rating, we have considered the nature of the content complained about. We agree with the broadcaster that Wizards of Waverly Place presented the teenage character’s anxiety about his first kiss in a humorous and innocent manner by showing all the mistakes that could happen. We also note that the scenario was set in a family context in which the character received advice from his sister and support from his parents. Further, we find that the concluding scene of the teenage boy kissing his girlfriend was extremely brief and tame in nature.

[22]   With respect to the advice provided in Sticky TV’s panel discussion about how to engage in a first kiss, we consider that it did not contain any material that would have alarmed or distressed child viewers, or which could be said to have warranted a PGR classification. We agree with the broadcaster that the discussion was constructive, responsible and positive.

[23]   We find that TVWorks correctly classified the broadcast G and we therefore decline to uphold the complaint that Standard 8 was breached.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[24]   Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm.

[25]   In our view, the programmes addressed a contemporary issue faced by many teenagers and provided them with simple messages in a manner that most would have been able to relate to.

[26]   As outlined in paragraph [21] above, Wizards of Waverly Place presented the teenage character’s anxiety about his first kiss in a humorous manner and was set in a supportive family context. Sticky TV’s panel discussion provided teenage viewers with innocuous guidance and did not contain any material that warranted a classification higher than G. While the material was targeted at teens, we do not consider that the content was inappropriate for younger viewers or that it would have disturbed or alarmed them.

[27]   Accordingly, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers and we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
26 October 2010

Appendix

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

1.            Aous Ibousi’s formal complaint – 16 June 2010

2.           TVWorks’ response to the formal complaint – 21 July 2010

3.           Mr Ibousi’s referral to the Authority – 21 July 2010

4.           TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 10 August 2010