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Keatinge and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2012-016

Members

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

Complainant

  • Alan Keatinge of Matamata

Dated

27th March 2012

Number

2012-016

Programme

Four Weddings

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Four Weddings – reality series broadcast at 2pm included nude wedding where all of the guests were naked – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – nudity was matter-of-fact and non-sexual – content suitable for PGR programme – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – nudity not in itself harmful to children – content not unsuitable for supervised child viewers – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Introduction

[1]  An episode of a reality series Four Weddings, in which four brides evaluate each other’s weddings and compete for a honeymoon prize, was broadcast at 2pm on TV One on 26 December 2011. One of the wedding ceremonies was a “naturist” ceremony, and the bride and groom and most of the guests were shown naked. Clips of the ceremony were shown on occasion throughout the programme, and footage of the ceremony itself lasted approximately 3 minutes.

[2]  The programme was preceded by the following verbal and written warning:

The following programme is rated PGR. It contains nudity that may offend some people and may not be suitable for a younger audience. We recommend the guidance of a parent or other adult.

[3]  Alan Keatinge made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that showing “full frontal male and female nudes” was unsuitable for that time of day.

[4]  The issue is whether the nudity in the programme breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency) and Standard 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 broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[6]  Standard 1 states that broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency. The primary objective of this standard is to protect against the broadcast of sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2 In this respect, the standard is intended to ensure that programmes reflect community norms of decorum and civility.

[7]  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:

  • Four Weddings was broadcast at 2pm on Boxing Day, during children’s viewing times
  • it was classified PGR
  • it was preceded by a warning for nudity that may offend, and advising parental guidance
  • the programme’s adult target audience
  • the nudity was not pixellated.

[8]  TVNZ noted the episode was rated PGR and PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and the episode was preceded by a clear warning for nudity. It considered that the programme was not aimed at child viewers, noting that the programme line-up was clearly targeted at adults (including Emmerdale, Come Dine With Me, Four Weddings and 60-Minute Makeover). The nudity was non-sexual and “innocent”, it said, unlikely to disturb children, and consistent with its PGR rating.

[9]  The Authority has previously declined to uphold a complaint about a programme broadcast at 2pm on a Saturday, which contained full-frontal nudity.3 In that case, the Authority considered the programme Trinny and Susannah: The Great British Body, in which a large group of naked British people formed a sculpture of a naked person. Throughout the episode, many people were shown completely naked, and breasts and buttocks were often shown close up. Noting contextual factors such as the time of broadcast, the programme’s PGR rating, the pre-broadcast warning, and its adult target audience, the Authority stated:

The Authority notes that the episode complained about contained multiple full-frontal shots of naked men and women. In the Authority’s view, the nudity was matter-of-fact and non-sexual, and the spirit of the programme was intended to be uplifting rather than salacious or titillating. The images of naked people were not gratuitous...

The Authority points out that broadcasters are allowed to screen PGR programmes between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays, and it considers that the programme’s content was acceptable for its PGR classification.

[10]  In this case, the nudity itself lasted only a few minutes in an hour-long programme (compared to frequent nudity in Trinny and Susannah), and was not sexual or designed to titillate. The programme was preceded by a clear warning for nudity, which allowed viewers the opportunity to choose whether or not to watch the programme, or to exercise discretion with regard to their children’s viewing. The footage subject to complaint was not unsuitable for child viewers supervised by an adult, and in any case we do not consider that the programme would have appealed to most children.

[11]  Accordingly, we find that the nudity in the programme would not have offended most viewers, and therefore did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency. We decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

Did the broadcaster adequately consider children’s interests?

[12]  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 those times and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[13]  TVNZ maintained that the programme was correctly rated PGR and did not contain anything that would have disturbed or alarmed child viewers. It reiterated its view that the content was consistent with that previously considered by the Authority in relation to complaints about nudity screened in G and PGR time.4 It also reiterated that the programme was preceded by a warning. TVNZ argued that nudity per se did not breach standards of good taste and decency or children’s interests, and that there were occasions when nudity was acceptable on television. What was important was how it was presented, it said, and in this case it was non-sexual and natural, which was “a positive message for children to view”.

[14]  The Authority has previously expressed the view that nudity in itself is not inherently harmful to children.5 We do not consider that the nudity shown in Four Weddings – which, as we have said above, was matter-of-fact and non-sexual – would have alarmed or disturbed child viewers under the guidance of an adult, or warranted a higher classification of AO. Further, the clear warning for nudity gave parents sufficient opportunity to decide whether or not to allow their children to watch.

[15]  We therefore find that TVNZ adequately considered children’s interests and we decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 9.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
27 March 2012

Appendix

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

1                  Alan Keatinge’s formal complaint – 27 December 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 9 February 2012

3                 Mr Keatinge’s referral to the Authority – 9 February 2012

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 15 February 2012


1Turner and TVNZ, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November, 2006)

3Hutt and TVNZ, Decision No. 2009-103

4See, for example, Harang and TVNZ, Decision No. 2005-018, and Hutchings and TVNZ, Decision No. 1999-020

5E.g. Samuel and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2011-097