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Wilson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-112

Members

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

Complainant

  • John Wilson of Christchurch

Dated

22nd November 2011

Number

2011-112

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Nothing Trivial – broadcast during Coronation Street – contained sexual references – allegedly in breach of children’s interests standard

Findings
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – sexual references were fleeting and innocuous – consistent with viewer expectations of Coronation Street and PGR timeband – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  A promo for Nothing Trivial, a drama following the personal lives of members of a pub quiz team, was broadcast on TV One between 7.30pm and 8.30pm on 12 July 2011, during Coronation Street which was rated PGR.

[2]  In the promo, the characters were shown talking about their quiz topic strengths, while thinking about their personal lives, as follows:

Emma:            I like animals and I know a bit about cooking...

                      [Thinking] but not where to find a single guy or a father for my children.

Catherine:        I’m just here for a quiet glass of wine...

                       [Thinking] and to escape my mother but that’s far too embarrassing.

[3]  Footage of Catherine’s mother was shown, in which she said to Catherine, “Sex – you need to get out there before it’s too late.” One of the female characters asked, “What’s your specialist topic Brian?” Brian was shown thinking, “I know a lot about women,” while footage was shown of a woman in her bra pushing bare-chested Brian onto a bed. Brian’s thoughts continued, “I do know one guy who’s in serious need of a root,” while looking across the table at his male team mate.

Complaint

[4]  John Wilson made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo breached standards relating to children’s interests. He noted that the promo was broadcast between 7.30pm and 8.30pm, and considered that the promo contained “reference to the sexual desires of the actors”.

Standards

[5]  Standard 9 and guideline 9a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. These provide:

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.

Guideline 9a

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.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[6]  TVNZ noted that the promo screened during Coronation Street which was a PGR-rated drama aimed at an adult audience. It pointed out that the PGR classification was defined as programmes containing matieral more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers subject to the guidance of a parent or adult, and that PGR programmes may be broadcast after 7pm. The broadcaster argued that the material in the promo was consistent with the expectations of the host programme, noting that storylines on Coronation Street had included domestic violence, rape, murder, affairs and “drunken one-night-stands”.

[7]  Accordingly, TVNZ was satisfied that it had adequately considered children’s interests, and it declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[8]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Wilson referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He was of the view that TVNZ had not adequately addressed his concerns. Mr Wilson noted that TVNZ had outlined the dialogue in the promo, “which clearly identifies the sexual reference which has caused the concern”. He considered that between 7.30pm and 8.30pm was “still a viewing time for pre-teens”, which was recognised in the guidelines to Standard 9, he said.

Authority’s Determination

[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.

[10]  Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm.

[11]  On this occasion, the promo for Nothing Trivial was broadcast between 7.30pm and 8.30pm, during Coronation Street, which was rated PGR.  The PGR classification is defined as follows in Appendix 1 to 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 an adult.

PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and after 7pm until 6am.

[12]  In our view, sexual themes will usually be acceptable in the context of a PGR timeslot, so long as any sexual content or references during children’s normally accepted viewing times are subtle and inexplicit, or in the nature of sexual innuendo that would be likely to go over the heads of child viewers, rather than overtly sexual or explicit.

[13]  We consider that the sexual references on this occasion were fleeting, relatively innocuous, and designed to be humorous and to provide brief introductions for the characters in the new series. We do not consider that the promos contained any material which warranted a higher classification of Adults Only. Further, Coronation Street was targeted at an adult audience, and regularly contains storylines targeted at a mature audience, so that the content in the promo would have been consistent with viewer expectations of that series.

[14]  We therefore find that the content in the promos was not unsuitable for supervised child viewers, and that TVNZ adequately considered the interests of child viewers in broadcasting the promo during Coronation Street. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the promo breached Standard 9 (children’s interests).

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
22 November 2011

Appendix

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

1                 John Wilson’s formal complaint – 12 July 2011

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

3                 Mr Wilson’s referral to the Authority – 17 August 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 23 September 2011