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Turner and TVWorks Ltd - 2010-183

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan

Complainant

  • Cliff Turner of Hamilton

Dated

29th March 2011

Number

2010-183

Programme

2 Fast 2 Furious

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

TVWorks Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
2 Fast 2 Furious – movie about a street racer forced to work undercover in exchange for his criminal record being wiped clean – contained violent scenes including torture, shootings, fighting and car crashes – allegedly in breach of violence standard

Findings
Standard 10 (violence) – broadcaster exercised adequate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Broadcast

[1]   A movie called 2 Fast 2 Furious was broadcast on TV3 at 8.30pm on Monday 11 October 2010. The film followed a fictitious street racer, Brian O'Conner, who was forced to work undercover as part of a joint Customs/FBI operation in exchange for his criminal record being wiped clean.

[2]   At approximately 9.47pm, a man was shown being tortured. The man was held down by a group of criminals and tied to a table. One of the criminals then cut the man’s shirt open with a knife, and placed a rat on his stomach, trapped under an ice bucket. The criminals then used a blow-torch to apply heat to the ice bucket so that the rat became distressed and started eating into the man’s stomach. The rat could be heard squeaking and the man screamed in pain. The man eventually gave in to the criminals’ demands and the ice bucket and rat were removed, leaving a few scratches on his stomach.

[3]   The movie also contained shootings, fighting and car crashes.

Complaint

[4]   Cliff Turner made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the movie breached standards relating to violence. He argued that the movie was “permeated with violence”, and said that one scene showed a man being tortured with a blow-torch.

Standards

[5]   Mr Turner nominated Standard 10 and guidelines 10a and 10b of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. These provide:

Standard 10 Violence

Broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.

Guidelines

10a   Any violence shown should be justified in the context of screening and not be gratuitous.

10b   Broadcasters should be mindful of the cumulative effect of violent incidents and themes.

  • the impression that violence is dominating a single programme, a programme series, or a line-up of programmes screened back-to-back should be avoided.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[6]   TVWorks considered that the level of violent content was “acceptable” in an action film rated Adults Only and screened at 8.30pm. Further, it said, the film was preceded by a warning for violence which provided viewers with a specific indication of the type of content in the movie, and offered ample opportunity to make an alternative viewing choice.

[7]   The broadcaster noted that the torture scene subject to complaint was broadcast at 9.47pm, more than an hour after the Adults Only watershed. It said that while the scene was “rather menacing”, it did not consider that it contained “graphic violence” or that it was unacceptable given the “well established tone” of the movie.

[8]   Taking relevant contextual factors into account, the broadcaster considered that the film complied with the requirements of Standard 10 and it therefore declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[9]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Turner referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He maintained that the movie breached Standard 10.

Authority’s Determination

[10]   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.

[11]   Standard 10 provides that broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence. We accept that the movie contained several violent scenes, including the depiction of torture.

[12]   In determining whether Standard 10 was breached, we have considered relevant contextual factors. We note that 2 Fast 2 Furious was classified Adults Only, screened at 8.30pm and was preceded by an explicit warning for violent content. The scene subject to complaint was broadcast at 9.47pm, more than an hour after the Adults Only watershed.

[13]   In our view, the violence portrayed in the movie was of a low level and was not particularly graphic. With regard to the torture scene specifically complained about, we consider that although the underlying concept was disturbing, the actual visual depiction of that concept was relatively inexplicit. The footage consisted of a rat being placed under an ice bucket on the man’s stomach, accompanied by the sound of his screams. This was followed by images of a few scratches on the man’s skin when the ice bucket was removed. The violent content was largely inferred rather than shown, and we do not consider that it would have departed from audience expectations, having regard to the movie’s genre.

[14]   Taking into account the relevant contextual factors, we find that TVWorks exercised adequate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 10 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
29 March 2011

Appendix

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

1                  Cliff Turner’s formal complaint – 12 October 2010

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 27 October 2010

3                 Mr Turner’s referral to the Authority – 14 December 2010

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 12 February 2011