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McCormick and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-134

Members

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

Complainant

  • Gary McCormick of Christchurch

Dated

28th February 2012

Number

2011-134

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Real Life: The World’s Most Enhanced Woman and Me – promo for documentary about presenter’s search for woman with largest breast implants in the world – contained footage of a number of women with very large breasts – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – footage was relatively inexplicit and was not salacious – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  A promo for The World’s Most Enhanced Woman and Me, a documentary in which the programme presenter went in search of the woman with the largest breast implants in the world, was broadcast on TV One at 6.40pm on 28 September 2011, during One News which was unclassified. The promo included footage of a number of women with extremely large breasts. All of the women were clothed; one was wearing a bikini top.

[2]  Gary McCormick made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo was “vulgar, crass” and should not have been screened during children’s viewing times.

[3]  Mr McCormick later sought to add an additional screening of the promo at 5.40pm to his complaint. Because Mr McCormick did not originally identify this separate screening of the promo within the 20 working days in which a complaint can be lodged, we cannot now consider that promo, and we have limited our determination to the promo broadcast during One News.

[4]  The issue therefore is whether the promo broadcast at 6.40pm during One News breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 9 (children’s interests) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the promo breach standards of good taste and decency?

[6]  Standard 1 states that broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency. 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:

  • the promo was broadcast at 6.40pm during One News
  • it was broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • One News is an unclassified news programme
  • One News has an adult target audience
  • children are less likely to watch news programmes unsupervised and news programmes do not have any natural attraction to younger viewers
  • the documentary was classified AO and screened at 9.30pm
  • the promo did not contain any nudity.

[7]  In our view, the footage of large-breasted women in the promo, while confronting and unacceptable to some, was relatively matter-of-fact and inexplicit, rather than sexual. All of the women were clothed, and the promo did not contain any nudity. The shots of the women and the tone of the promo were not salacious or designed to titillate. Rather, we consider that the promo reflected the tenor of the documentary, focusing on the physiological aspects of getting breast implants of that size, and questioning the motivations behind electing to undergo those operations.

[8]  In our view, the content of the promo was not unsuitable for child viewers under the guidance of an adult, and would not have disturbed or alarmed them. We do not consider that the promo contained any material which warranted a higher classification of Adults Only or a restriction to broadcasting after the 8.30pm AO watershed.

[9]  For these reasons, and taking into account the above contextual factors, in particular that the promo screened during One News which was an unclassified news programme targeted at adults, we find that the promo did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency in breach of Standard 1.

Did the broadcaster adequately consider children’s interests?

[10]  Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. Guideline 9a states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during these times, and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[11]  For the reasons outlined above under Standard 1, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests and we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

Final Comments

[12]  We can understand the view that breast “enhancements” of this kind, seemingly for commercial purposes, is a subject matter that some people may find offensive. The complainant’s point is that images of the results of these practices ought not to be broadcast during what he describes as “child safety time”. While we accept that the images screened during children’s normally accepted viewing times, as we have said, they were of clothed bodies and were not sexually explicit. Furthermore, we accept the broadcaster’s submission that news programming is targeted at adults, and is a genre where viewer discretion and parental supervision is expected.

[13]  We emphasise that the level at which we as a regulatory authority are required to intervene, is at a level which is higher than the level at which some viewers’ sensitivities will be affronted. We must only intervene in circumstances where we are satisfied that the potential “harm” caused by a particular broadcast outweighed the importance of the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

[14]  The complainant has been concerned about these images but we, taking an objective view, do not consider that most viewers would have been offended by the promo. We therefore see insufficient reason for intervention on this occasion, and find that upholding the complaint would place an unjustifiable restriction on the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
28 February 2012

Appendix

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

1                  Gary McCormick’s formal complaint – 3 October 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 26 October 2011

3                 Mr McCormick’s referral to the Authority and further submissions – 27 and 31 October 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 3 November 2011

5                 Further comments from Mr McCormick – 6 November 2011