The Millennium Moment broadcast on TV One on 28 December 1999 during One News beginning at 6.00pm included an item on nudist clubs. It reported that there were 24 nudist clubs in New Zealand with about two thousand members. Members of one such club were shown relaxing or playing sport.
Kristian Harang complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that the item would have encouraged children and young people to consider nudism in public as normal when in fact only a small percentage of people were members of nudist clubs. He contended that the content was offensive and unsuitable for broadcast when children were watching television.
TVNZ responded that the brief item was one of a series designed to record notable anniversaries and to reflect the diversity of life in New Zealand. Its view was that the pictures had been shot with considerable discretion, and there was nothing salacious about them, nor were they gratuitously voyeuristic. Such a careful selection of pictures, it argued, demonstrated that it had been mindful of younger viewers. It declined to uphold the complaint.
Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, Mr Harang referred the 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.
The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the item complained about and have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. On this occasion, the Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
Nudist clubs in New Zealand were the subject of a Millennium Moment broadcast on TV One on 28 December during One News beginning at 6.00pm. It reported that nudist clubs were a part of New Zealand life, there being 24 clubs with about 2000 members, and included pictures from a rally held in Christchurch in 1994 showing members relaxing or participating in sports.
Kristian Harang complained that by broadcasting the item in prime time TVNZ had breached the good taste standard and the requirement to be mindful of children. In particular he objected to "men totally naked showing their backsides" and expressed his concern that children and young people would have formed the impression that nudism in public was normal.
TVNZ assessed the complaint under the nominated standards. Standards G2 and G12 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice 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.
G12 To be mindful of the effect any programme may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times.
TVNZ noted that a different Millennium Moment had been screened each day in 1999 and that the purpose had been both to record notable anniversaries and to reflect the diversity of life in New Zealand. As far as standard G2 was concerned, TVNZ's view was that the pictures had been shot with considerable discretion. It noted that there was nothing salacious about them, nor were they gratuitously voyeuristic. Its opinion was that most New Zealanders would accept that nudist clubs existed in the community and that the pictures accurately reflected the nudist lifestyle.
In its consideration of standard G12, TVNZ concluded that through the careful selection of the pictures it had demonstrated that it was mindful of the effect the item could have on children. It did not agree with the complainant that the item suggested that nudism in public was normal. In fact, it said, the item made clear that nudist clubs tended to be in secluded areas, and to keep a low profile. It declined to uphold the complaint.
When he referred the matter to the Authority Mr Harang said he took "very strong issue" with TVNZ's point that nudist clubs tended to be in secluded areas and to keep a low profile. If that were true, he asked, why was an item screened about them on television at peak time? He suggested that TVNZ was making public a private matter. As a final point, Mr Harang noted that as the item was screened during prime time, many people would have had no choice but to watch it.
TVNZ advised that it had no further comment to make.
As it is required, the Authority considers alleged breaches of standard G2 in the context in which the language or behaviour occurs. In this case, the complaint is that brief shots of members of a nudist club broadcast during the 6.00–7.00pm news hour breached the standard. The Authority is not persuaded that such footage offends community standards as Mr Harang contends. In its view, there was nothing objectionable either about the shorts selected, or about the portrayal of nudism in the context of a news hour item. Accordingly, it declines to uphold this aspect of the complaint.
The Authority then turns to the complaint that TVNZ failed to demonstrate it was mindful of children and thus breached standard G12. Having concluded above that the shots were not offensive to viewers, there was, the Authority finds, no necessity for the broadcaster to have taken measures to protect children from seeing them. It therefore declines to uphold this aspect.
For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
9 March 2000
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Kristian Harang’s Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 17 January 2000
2. TV3’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 11 February 2000
3. Mr Harang’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority –
12 February 2000
4. TV3’s Response to the Authority – 24 February 2000
5. Mr Harang’s Final Comment – March 2000