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Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-079

Members

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

Complainant

  • Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) of Wellington

Dated

13th September 2011

Number

2011-079

Programme

One News

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaints under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – item showed press conference with boxer David Tua, with “Woodstock Bourbon and Cola” liquor brand visible – allegedly in breach of liquor standard

Breakfast – weather presenter interviewed “Jim Beam Grid Girls” at location for the ITM 400 in Hamilton – allegedly in breach of liquor standard

Findings
Standard 11 (liquor) – items contained liquor promotion in the form of promotion of liquor brands – items did not mention alcohol or advocate liquor consumption – both programmes were aimed at adults – liquor promotion socially responsible – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcasts

[1]  During an item on One News, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 17 March 2011, boxer David Tua was shown at a press conference leading up to a boxing match. It was apparent that “Woodstock Bourbon and Cola” was sponsoring the fight, and its liquor brand and logo were shown a number of times in footage of the press conference and of the event.

[2]  During two weather segments on Breakfast, broadcast on TV One between 6.30am and 9am on 14 April 2011, the weather presenter reported from the location of the ITM 400 V8 super cars event in Hamilton. He interviewed three “Jim Beam Grid Girls”, who were wearing white outfits with the Jim Beam logo displayed on the front.

Complaints

[3]  The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) made formal complaints to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that both items breached Standard 11 (liquor), and specifically guidelines 11b, 11d and 11e to that standard.

[4]  The complainant was of the view that “the Woodstock branding dominated the news item... [which] was inappropriate and unnecessary”. It alleged that the Breakfast segments were dominated by the Jim Beam logo, which was inappropriate for that timeslot. It noted that alcohol advertising was prohibited at that time of day.

Standards

[5]  ALAC nominated Standard 11 and guidelines 11b, 11d and 11e of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting practice in its complaint. These provide:

Standard 11 Liquor

Broadcasters should observe restrictions on the promotion of liquor appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast. Liquor Promotion should be socially responsible and must not encourage consumption by people who are under the legal age to purchase liquor.

Definition

Liquor Promotion comprises:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’)

Guidelines

11b   Broadcasters must ensure that Liquor Promotion does not dominate programmes.

11d   Broadcasters are not required to exclude promotion from coverage of an actual event or situation being broadcast where promotion is a normal feature of the event or situation but must take guideline 11b into account.

11e   Sponsorship of a programme must be confined to the brand, name or logo and must not include a sponsor's sales message.

  • When scheduling liquor-sponsored programmes, broadcasters will also take into account the requirements of principle 4.4 and Guideline 4(c) of the Advertising Standards Authority's Code for Advertising Liquor (which requires broadcasters to take care to avoid the impression that liquor promotion is dominating the viewing period).
  • Promos for a liquor-sponsored programme shall clearly and primarily promote the programme. The sponsor and sponsorship may be featured only in a subordinate manner, be confined to the brand, name or logo and must not include a sponsor's sales message.

Broadcaster’s Responses to the Complainant

[6]  Noting that the Authority applied a two-stage test when considering Standard 11, TVNZ considered that the complaints “[failed] at the first hurdle”, as the items did not constitute liquor promotion in the form of promotion, sponsorship or advocacy. With regard to the One News item, it argued that, “The item focused entirely on David Tua, his upcoming boxing bout and his opponent... Woodstock was incidental to the item.” With regard to Breakfast, it considered that, “The item focused entirely on the Grid Girls and their role at the Hamilton V8 supercars competition.”

[7]  TVNZ noted that guideline 11d explicitly stated that “broadcasters are not required to exclude promotion from coverage of an actual event or situation being broadcast where promotion is a normal feature of the event or situation”. TVNZ contended that the items were not sponsored by Woodstock or Jim Beam, but simply reported on events that happened to be sponsored by those brands, which fell within guideline 11d.

[8]  With regard to guideline 11b, the broadcaster argued that the One News shots containing Woodstock were on-screen for 17 seconds, while the whole item was one minute and 34 seconds in length. It maintained that “this timeframe, less than 20 percent of the total air time of the item, [did not reach] the threshold to be considered dominating the viewing period of the item”. Further, TVNZ noted that the guideline required that alcohol did not dominate a “programme”, rather than individual items within a programme. It maintained that liquor promotion did not dominate the viewing period of One News, between 6pm and 7pm.

[9]  Looking at Breakfast, the broadcaster argued that the Grid Girls and their uniforms which displayed the Jim Beam logo were on screen for approximately two minutes in total. It therefore considered that “liquor in no way dominated the viewing period of the Breakfast programme from 6.30 to 9am”.

[10]  For the same reasons, the broadcaster considered that guideline 11e was not applicable in the circumstances, and that liquor promotion did not dominate the items.

[11]  Notwithstanding its conclusion that the items did not constitute liquor promotion, TVNZ went on to consider whether the items were socially responsible in this respect. It reiterated its view that alcohol was “entirely incidental” to the One News item, which focused on David Tua’s upcoming boxing match. Similarly, it maintained that “liquor was entirely incidental to the [Breakfast] item which focussed completely on the Grid Girls’ involvement in the Hamilton V8 supercars event”. TVNZ said, “Liquor sponsorship of sporting events is routine and viewers understand this.” TVNZ also pointed out that the items did not contain any verbal references to alcohol, and did not advocate liquor consumption.

[12]  TVNZ therefore declined to uphold the complaints under Standard 11.

Referrals to the Authority

[13]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, ALAC referred its complaints about both items to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[14]  ALAC maintained that the set shown on One News for David Tua’s press conference was “heavily branded by Woodstock promotion material”. It disagreed that this did not amount to liquor promotion, in the form of promoting a liquor product, brand or outlet. ALAC reiterated its view that it was inappropriate and unnecessary to emphasise the Woodstock brand in a news item.

[15]  The complainant also disagreed that Breakfast did not contain liquor promotion. It considered that “the association of Jim Beam with the ‘Grid Girls’ is clearly promotion of the brand”. It argued that Jim Beam was given two minutes of free air time on Breakfast, at a time of day when liquor advertising is banned under advertising regulations. ALAC considered that TVNZ had “helped the sponsor achieve its aim of linking the product with the event”, and maintained that the Jim Beam logo dominated the item. The complainant maintained that alcohol was an “exaggerated feature” of both items.

[16]  Noting that advertising regulations prohibited alcohol advertisements between 6am and 8.30pm, the complainant considered that it was “unreasonable that a paid advertisement could not be broadcast, yet TVNZ can give away prime air-time to [these alcohol brands] in this manner”.

Authority’s Determination

[17]  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.

[18]  There is a two-stage test involved in determining whether there has been a breach of Standard 11. We must first decide whether the broadcast constituted “liquor promotion” and, if it did, we must then consider whether the liquor promotion was socially responsible. Looking at the first limb of the test, we note that Standard 11 defines “liquor promotion” as:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’).

[19]  We note that, while the sporting events referenced in the items were sponsored by liquor brands, the programmes themselves were not sponsored by those brands, so they did not amount to “sponsorship”. Nor did the items advocate liquor consumption. However, we accept that, as the items contained numerous shots of Woodstock and Jim Beam branding and their logos, the items amounted to liquor promotion in the form of “promotion” of a liquor brand.

[20]  Having found that the programme contained liquor promotion, we must now consider whether that promotion was socially responsible. We note that, although the liquor brands were visible during the segments, neither item explicitly mentioned alcohol or encouraged viewers to consume alcohol. Further, both programmes were unclassified and targeted at an adult audience.

[21]  While we acknowledge ALAC’s concern that the items were broadcast at a time when liquor advertising is not permitted, we are satisfied that on these two occasions the liquor promotion in the items was not of a level that could be considered socially irresponsible.

[22]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaints under Standard 11.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
13 September 2011

Appendix

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

1           ALAC’s formal complaint about One News – 7 April 2011

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 10 May 2011

3          ALAC’s referral to the Authority – 7 June 2011

4          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 15 July 2011

 

1           ALAC’s formal complaint about Breakfast – 18 April 2011

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 18 May 2011

3          ALAC’s referral to the Authority – 7 June 2011   

4          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 15 July 2011