Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Bones promo – contained three brief shots of a girl with what appeared to be blood or dirt on her face – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests
Standard 8 (responsible programming) – promo correctly rated PGR – images were fleeting and inexplicit – acceptable for child viewers under adult supervision – not upheld
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – images were fleeting and inexplicit – broadcast during an unclassified news programme – would not have alarmed or distressed children – broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers – not upheld
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 A promo for Bones was broadcast on TV3 at approximately 6.38pm on Tuesday 28 June 2011 during 3 News. Bones was a drama series about a forensic anthropologist called upon by the FBI to solve complex murder cases. The 16-second promo showed three brief shots of a young girl with what appeared to be blood or dirt on her face, as the characters engaged in the following dialogue:
Voice 1: Is this the girl?
Voice 2: Yes, looked like she killed someone.
Voice 3: Let me just question her.
Voice 2: I would love to but she’s a deaf mute.
 A voiceover stated, “Trapped in a silent world, can Bones unlock her shocking secret?”
 Clare Ringrose made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo breached standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests.
 The complainant considered that the promo contained “graphic images of a woman with blood streaming down her face” and noted that it screened during the second half of 3 News, which she said “generally contains no material that is unsuitable for children’s viewing (e.g. finance, sport and weather)”.
 Ms Ringrose argued that it was inappropriate to screen promos for PGR and AO-rated programmes during family viewing times, and noted that guideline 8b to Standard 8 states that promos screening during unclassified host programmes in G or PGR time, must be classified G or PGR and the broadcaster must pay regard to children’s interests. In her view, the promo contained content that was likely to disturb and alarm children and should have been preceded by a warning (guideline 1a).
 Ms Ringrose nominated Standards 1, 8 and 9 and guidelines 1a, 1b, 8b and 9a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in her complaint. These provide:
Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency
Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.
1a Broadcasters will take into account current norms of good taste and decency bearing in mind the context in which any content occurs and the wider context of the broadcast e.g. programme classification, target audience, type of programme and use of warnings etc.
1b The use of visual and verbal warnings should be considered when content is likely to disturb or offend a significant number of viewers except in the case of news and current affairs, where verbal warnings only will be considered. Warnings should be specific in nature, while avoiding detail which may itself distress or offend viewers.
Standard 8 Responsible Programming
Broadcasters should ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible.
All promos (including promos for news and current affairs) should be classified to comply with the “host programme” (the programme in which they screen):
- When a promo screens during an unclassified host programme (including news and current affairs) in G or PGR time, the promo must be classified G or PGR and broadcasters should pay regard to Standard 9 – Children’s Interests.
Standard 9 Children’s Interests
During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.
Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm – and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.
 TVWorks contended that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable to viewers in the context in which it was shown, including the time of broadcast, the programme’s classification, the target audience, and the use of warnings.
 The broadcaster noted that the promo was broadcast during 3 News, which screened at a scheduled time each day and had an adult target audience. It said that the Authority had accepted that although news and current affairs programmes screened prior to the Adults Only watershed at 8.30pm, they were unlikely to be watched by unsupervised young children, who, given the choice, were more likely to watch programmes directed at them on other channels. It noted that Appendix 1 to the Code states that news programmes are not classified because of their distinct nature.
 TVWorks said that the promo was rated PGR because it contained an image of a girl with a blood-stained face; it was not rated AO as it did not contain any explicit violence or injuries, it said. The broadcaster stated, “The girl’s face was not streaming with blood... but stained and dirty and the blood was not necessarily immediately distinguishable as such, and she herself was clearly not hurt”.
 For the above reasons, the broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint as a breach of Standard 1.
 TVWorks maintained that the promo was correctly classified PGR and scheduled during 3 News. It therefore declined to uphold the Standard 8 complaint.
 The broadcaster reiterated that children were unlikely to watch news programmes unsupervised and said that the image of the girl was not “gory” or “confronting” in a manner that was likely to disturb children. Accordingly, it found that it had adequately considered the interests of child viewers and it declined to uphold the complaint that the promo breached Standard 9.
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Ms Ringrose referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She said that her primary concern was the lack of warning and the fact that the promo screened during the second half of the news which rarely contained disturbing content and was likely to be watched by a significant number of children. She maintained that the promo breached Standards 1, 8 and 9.
 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.
 Standard 8 requires that programmes, including promos for programmes, are correctly classified and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code. The promo subject to complaint was classified PGR by the broadcaster and screened at approximately 6.38pm during 3 News, which was unclassified. The promo was for the AO-classified programme, Bones.
 Guideline 8b states that when a promo screens during an unclassified host programme (including news and current affairs) in G or PGR time, the promo must be classified G or PGR and broadcasters should pay regard to Standard 9 (children’s interests).
 The PGR classification is defined as follows in Appendix 1 of the Code:
PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended
Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or adult.
 In our view, the content subject to complaint was not unsuitable for children under the supervision of an adult and therefore consistent with its PGR classification. The promo consisted of three fleeting images of a girl with what appeared to be blood or dirt on her face; it did not contain any explicit or clearly distinguishable injuries, nor did it contain any violence. The images were accompanied by relatively innocuous dialogue which referred to her appearance and to the fact that she was unable to easily communicate. It was evident that the girl was in the care and custody of the Bones team and was not in any immediate danger. In our view, the promo did not contain any material that warranted a higher classification of AO.
 For these reasons, we find that the promo was correctly classified PGR and therefore decline to uphold a breach of Standard 8.
 Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times. The Bones promo was broadcast prior to 7pm, during the G time-band and therefore during children’s viewing times.
 As noted above at paragraph , we consider that the promo was correctly rated PGR. It was broadcast during an unclassified news programme in which PGR-rated promos are permitted (guideline 8b). Further, the images of the girl were fleeting and inexplicit and, in our opinion, would not have distressed or alarmed children, for the reasons discussed under Standard 8.
 In these circumstances, we consider that the broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers in broadcasting the promo during 3 News, and we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.
 When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:
 For the reasons given above under our consideration of Standards 8 and 9, and taking into account the relevant contextual factors, we do not consider that the promo’s content would have offended or distressed viewers, or that it would have been surprising or unexpected in the context in which it screened.
 Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
13 September 2011
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Clare Ringrose’s formal complaint – 7 July 2011
2 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 14 July 2011
3 Ms Ringrose’s referral to the Authority – 25 July 2011
4 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 29 July 2011