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Family First New Zealand and TVWorks Ltd - 2010-094

Members

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

Complainant

  • Family First New Zealand of Auckland

Dated

26th October 2010

Number

2010-094

Programme

Nightline

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Nightline
– item on closure of Gardies, a well-known student pub in Dunedin – contained male nudity including genitalia – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency standard


Findings

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – nudity was matter-of-fact and non-sexual – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on Nightline, broadcast on TV3 at 10.39pm on Friday 18 June 2010, reported on the closure of a well-known student pub in Dunedin, The Garden Tavern, known as Gardies. The reporter stated that nudity had been a “big chapter in the bar’s history”, and approximately one minute into the item a group of young men were shown playing nude rugby outside the bar. The men were filmed running towards the camera, exercising and stretching, with their genitalia visible.

[2]   The item was preceded by the following verbal warning from the newsreader:

... just a warning, surprise surprise, the following story contains nudity.

Complaint

[3]   Family First New Zealand made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached standards of good taste and decency.

[4]   The complainant stated that the item contained “full frontal nudity” and that “no effort [had been] made to pixellate the images”. Family First argued that it was “widely acknowledged” that children tended to stay up later on weekend nights and that they could have been watching the item. It considered that the broadcaster had departed from audience expectations of material considered acceptable on news and current affairs programmes.

Standards

[5]   Family First nominated Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in its complaint, which provides:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6]   TVWorks contended that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable in the context in which it was shown, including the time of broadcast, the programme’s classification, the target audience, and the use of any warnings.

[7]   The broadcaster noted that the item formed part of an unclassified late-night news programme, which screened well after the AO watershed. It referred to Appendix 1 to the Code which states that news and current affairs programmes are not classified because of their distinct nature. While TVWorks accepted that children tended to stay up later on weekend nights, it argued that 10.30pm was “well outside” the time period that could be considered children’s normally accepted viewing times.

[8]   TVWorks noted that the item was preceded by a “clear and timely” verbal warning, which gave “an accurate indication of the visual content of the story” and gave viewers adequate opportunity to make an informed viewing choice.

[9]   The broadcaster argued that, given Nightline news stories were often presented in a “tongue-in-cheek” manner, and that its adult target audience was “more tolerant of slightly challenging material”, the item was unlikely to offend, and was in accordance with audience expectations.

[10]   TVWorks argued that the male nudity was relevant to the story, was intended to be “humorous in an endearing way” and was not sexualised or salacious. It noted that the Authority had previously determined that news coverage of nudity in particular contexts did not breach broadcasting standards.

[11]   The broadcaster concluded that the item did not stray beyond current norms of good taste and decency, and declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[12]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Family First referred its complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[13]   The complainant reiterated its view that the nudity was unsuitable for screening at 10.39pm on a Friday night when children could reasonably be expected to be watching.

[14]   Family First considered “full frontal nudity as part of a news story” to be “objectionable and offensive”. It argued that the images were not justified by their context, and that they could have at least been pixellated.

Authority's Determination

[15]   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.

[16]   When we consider a complaint that alleges a breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the item formed part of an unclassified late-night news programme

  • the item was broadcast at 10.39pm, more than 2 hours after the AO watershed

  • audience expectations of material screened on late-night news

  • the item was preceded by a verbal warning from the news reader alerting viewers to the fact that it contained nudity

  • the programme’s adult target audience.

[17]   The Authority has found on previous occasions that non-sexual nudity during the news did not breach standards of good taste and decency.1 We note that the item subject to complaint contained multiple full-frontal shots of naked men, including their genitalia. In our view, the nudity was matter-of-fact and non-sexual, and the spirit of the item was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, rather than salacious or titillating.

[18]   Furthermore, the images formed part of a late-night news item that was preceded by a tongue-in-cheek warning, which in our view, was adequate for its time of broadcast. Although the item screened on a Friday night, when children tend to stay up later than usual, we do not consider that 10.30pm is within children’s normally accepted viewing times.

[19]   Taking the above contextual factors into account, we are of the view that Standard 1 was not breached on this occasion.

 

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.           Family First New Zealand’s formal complaint – 20 June 2010

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

3.          Family First NZ’s referral to the Authority – 22 July 2010

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


1See, for example, Decision No. 2005-041 and Decision No. 2005-018.