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Perkins and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2011-103

Members

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

Complainant

  • Darren Perkins of Manukau

Dated

18th October 2011

Number

2011-103

Programme

Kalgoorlie Cops

Broadcaster

SKY Network Television Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Kalgoorlie Cops – included footage of barmaids wearing lingerie and skimpy outfits as well as a topless barmaid using her bare breasts to entertain patrons – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency

Findings
Standard P2 (good taste and decency) – content intended to be light-hearted and humorous – channel and programme targeted at adults – episode classified “M” and preceded by a clear warning for nudity and mature themes – filtering technology available on SKY – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  An episode of the reality TV series Kalgoorlie Cops was broadcast on the Crime and Investigation Channel at 2pm on Monday 20 June 2011. The narrator introduced the programme as follows:

This is Kalgoorlie, sitting on the edge of Australia’s biggest gold mine. Fly in, fly out town, where cashed-up miners roll in to blow off steam and spend up here on booze, cars and girls...

[2]  The episode included several shots of barmaids wearing lingerie and skimpy outfits, and footage of a topless barmaid entertaining patrons by:

  • shaking her breasts from side to side while pushing them into a man’s face
  • placing open beer bottles on her nipples and shaking her breasts so that patrons were sprayed with beer
  • covering her breasts with foam and setting them alight.

[3]  The programme was preceded by the following warning:

M – May contain sex scenes, sexual references, nudity, coarse language, mature themes.

Complaint

[4]  Darren Perkins made a formal complaint to SKY Network Television Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the explicit footage of bare-breasted women and women walking around with hardly any clothes on breached standards of good taste and decency. In his view, the content was “extremely out of place” on a police show, and was “unnecessary” and “inappropriate”. The complainant said that he had not watched the start of the programme and so was unsure of whether it was preceded by a warning, but argued that in any event, a warning would not have justified the content.

Standards

[5]  SKY assessed the complaint under Standard P2 and guidelines P2(a) and (b) of the Pay Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. These provide:

Standard P2 Good taste and decency

Current norms of good taste and decency should be maintained consistent with the context of each programme and its channel.

Guidelines

(a)   Appropriate use of classifications, warnings and filtering technology in accordance with standard P1 above may assist broadcasters to comply with this standard.

(b)   The likely expectations of the audience for a channel, a programme and its scheduling will also be considered.

Referral to the Authority

[6]  Having not received a response from the broadcaster within the statutory timeframe, Mr Perkins referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[7]  SKY apologised to the complainant for the delay in formally responding to his complaint.

[8]  The broadcaster noted that Kalgoorlie Cops was classified “M” indicating that it was suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over. It said that viewers were alerted to programme classifications through an on-screen banner appearing at the beginning of each programme and through the electronic programme guide and SKYWATCH magazine listings. Further, it considered that the programme synopsis (set out below) informed viewers of the likely content:

[This] Australian series captures the challenges faced by the Kalgoorlie cops who patrol the “largest beat” in the world. See the reality of policing the town known as Australia’s real “wild west”.

[9]  In addition, the broadcaster emphasised that parents were able, through a sophisticated blocking mechanism, to block programmes classified “M” and above. It noted that instructions on how to use filtering technology were delivered to subscribers at the time of installation and were frequently broadcast on SKY TV.

[10]  For these reasons, the broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint as a breach of Standard P2.

Authority’s Determination

[11]  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.

[12]  When we consider an alleged breach of Standard 1, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the episode was classified “M” indicating it was suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over
  • Kalgoorlie Cops screened on the Crime and Investigation Channel at 2pm on a Monday
  • the channel’s target audience
  • audience expectations of content usually screened on that channel
  • the programme was about the work of the police in a mining town
  • it was preceded by a warning for nudity and mature themes
  • audience expectations of the programme
  • availability of filtering technology.

[13]  We consider that, while not to everyone’s tastes, the images of women in lingerie and skimpy clothing, as well as the topless barmaid using her breasts to entertain patrons, were intended to be light-hearted and humorous, rather than titillating or salacious. We emphasise that the footage was broadcast on a subscription channel, the Crime and Investigation Channel, which offers special interest programming (real life crime stories) appealing to a specific audience. The channel and the programme were clearly targeted at an adult audience, and likely to contain adult themes. Further, the programme was preceded by a clear warning for nudity and mature themes. In these circumstances, we do not consider that the content would have been unexpected in the context of a reality series about the work of police, especially given that it was introduced as a programme about a town full of “cashed-up miners [who] roll in to blow off steam and spend up here on booze, cars and girls...”

[14]  In addition to the specialist nature of the channel and its adult-orientated programming, we note that this episode of Kalgoorlie Cops was classified “M”, indicating that it was suitable for mature audiences aged 16 years and over. While the programme screened at 2pm, there are no time-bands on pay television due the availability of filtering technology which allows parents to block programmes they do not want their children to watch, based on their classification.

[15]  For these reasons, we do not consider that the content subject to complaint would have departed from audience expectations given the context in which it screened. Accordingly, we find that the programme did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency, and we decline to uphold the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
18 October 2011

Appendix

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

1                 Darren Perkins’ formal complaint – 20 June 2011

2                 Mr Perkins’ referral to the Authority – 1 August 2011

3                 SKY’s response to the Authority – 15 August 2011