One News – offensive behaviour – scantily-clad woman – unsuitable for children
Standard G2 – brief footage – no uphold
Standard G12 – not unsuitable for children – no uphold
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
A charity hair dressing event was the subject of an item on One News broadcast on TV One on 6 February. The item included a brief shot of a woman dancer who was one of the entertainers at the event.
Kristian Harang complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that it was offensive to show the scantily-clad woman’s "naked backside" in prime family viewing time. He considered that many children watching would have been led to believe it was normal to be naked in public.
In its response, TVNZ pointed out that the woman was not naked but was wearing a thong. It did not consider the scene exceeded community expectations of good taste given its context. It also advised that it had failed to detect any message suggesting to children that nakedness in public was normal. 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 given 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.
A brief news item broadcast on One News on TV One on 6 February 2000 between 6.00–7.00pm reported that some of Auckland’s top hairdressers had gathered to cut hair for a reduced price, with all proceeds going to an AIDS charity. Entertainers at the event included women dancers.
Kristian Harang complained to TVNZ that the footage of a scantily-clad woman dancer was offensive, as it showed her "naked backside". In his view, it was offensive to show such footage during prime time family viewing time, and he believed that any children watching would have considered that it was normal to be naked in public. In fact, he said, it was a criminal offence to be semi naked in public.
TVNZ assessed the complaint under standards G2 and G12 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which 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 hours.
In the context of a light-hearted dance performance, TVNZ did not consider the scene carried the connotations Mr Harang ascribed to it. First, it said, the woman clearly was not naked, as she was wearing a thong, an item commonly worn by dancers and also used as lingerie and beachwear. In its view, the scene did not exceed community expectations of good taste and did not breach standard G2. Further, it reported that it had not found any message to children which suggested that nakedness in public was normal. It therefore declined to uphold the complaint under standard G12.
When he referred the matter to the Authority, Mr Harang repeated that the footage clearly showed a naked female backside in prime time family viewing time, and that he considered it offensive. Also, he asked, what was a scantily-clad woman doing in a hair dressing salon? He argued that the Authority had previously upheld complaints where sexual scenes were of a titillating nature rather than educational or part of a programme.
In its response to the Authority TVNZ suggested that Mr Harang had misunderstood the item when he asked what a scantily-clad woman was doing in a hair dressing salon. It pointed out that this was a charity hair dressing event which had been filmed at the Auckland Town Hall and that various celebrities had participated in the occasion. Part of the story concerned the entertainment provided.
Mr Harang advised that he had no further comment.
When it considers complaints alleging a breach of the good taste requirement, the Authority takes into account the context in which the language or behaviour occurred. On this occasion, the brief news item reported that an AIDS charity had benefited from a hair cutting event staged in the Auckland Town Hall. As well as celebrity cutters and participants, the entertainment included some women dancers who wore outfits typical of a night club scene. It was Mr Harang’s view that it was offensive to screen footage showing a woman wearing a brief outfit which revealed her buttocks. He suggested it would encourage children to consider public nudity acceptable. The Authority is not so persuaded. It does not find the extremely brief clip of the woman dancer offensive in the context, nor does it consider that an assumption could be made that public nudity was therefore acceptable. It declines to uphold the complaint under both standard G2 and G12.
For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
4 May 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 – 6 February 2000
2. TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 16 February 2000
3. Mr Harang’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 21 February 2000
4. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 2 March 2000
5. Mr Harang’s Final Comment – 8 March 2000