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Clancy and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2012-086

Members

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

Complainant

  • Kevin Clancy

Dated

4th December 2012

Number

2012-086

Programme

Breakfast

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Breakfast – guest presenter commented, in relation to web video of children’s television presenter Roger Waters, “suddenly there’s LSD in the water” – allegedly in breach of law and order, responsible programming, and children’s interests standards

Findings
Standard 2 (law and order) – presenter’s comment was brief and light-hearted – viewers would not have been encouraged to break the law – children would not have understood the comment – not upheld

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – Breakfast was an unclassified news and current affairs programme – comment would not have distressed or alarmed viewers – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – comment was silly and oblique – children would not have appreciated its meaning, and would not have been encouraged to take LSD – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  During a segment on Breakfast entitled “weird wide web picks of the week”, a guest presenter introduced a web video featuring an American children’s television presenter, Roger Waters, saying, “What happens when you put a man like that through Auto-tune? Suddenly there’s LSD in the water!” The clip showed the children’s television presenter singing a song, which had been put through Auto-Tune (an audio pitch correction software), so that his voice sounded unusual. The Breakfast presenters laughed and discussed how “creepy” the clip was. The segment was broadcast on TV One at around 8.20am on 15 June 2012.

[2]  Kevin Clancy made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, arguing that the reference to LSD in relation to a children’s programme, and at a time when children could be watching, was irresponsible and could result in imitation. He said, “Any endorsement or use of drug talk in this context is wrong and should not be engaged in.”

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast, and specifically the presenter’s comments, breached Standards 2 (law and order), 8 (responsible programming) and 9 (children’s interests) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  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 encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity?

[5]  The intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage listeners to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.1 The standard exists to ensure that broadcasters refrain from broadcasting material which does not respect the laws which sustain our society.2

[6]  TVNZ maintained the segment did not glamorise crime or condone the actions of criminals; the presenter’s comment was an off-the-cuff, light-hearted remark that was intended to be comedic. It would have been obvious to reasonable viewers that he was not suggesting anyone should put LSD in their water, it said; he was simply commenting about how strange the television programme sounded when it had been put through the Auto-Tune process.

[7]  We do not consider that the presenter’s brief and light-hearted comment constituted the sort of programme content that Standard 2 was designed to prevent. It was clearly his personal commentary on the strangeness of the video being shown, and was intended to be humorous. The reference was somewhat oblique, and was a play on the television presenter’s name, Roger Waters (“there’s LSD in the water”). Breakfast is an unclassified news and current affairs programme targeted at adults, and while children may have been watching, we do not consider that they would have understood the comment or taken any real meaning from it. We disagree that the comment, taken in this context, would have resulted in imitation, as alleged by the complainant.

[8]  We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 2 complaint.

Did the broadcast breach the responsible programming standard?

[9]  Standard 8 is primarily aimed at ensuring that programmes are correctly classified and screened in appropriate timeslots. Broadcasters must also ensure that programme material is not portrayed in a way that will cause undue distress or alarm.

[10]  Breakfast was an unclassified news and current affairs programme. We do not consider that the presenter’s brief, light-hearted commentary in relation to the internet video would have alarmed or distressed viewers.

[11]  We therefore 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.

[13]  TVNZ argued that Breakfast was aimed at adult viewers and its tone and format were well known to viewers. It considered that children were unlikely to know what LSD was, let alone take action on the basis of the presenter’s comment.

[14]  While the Breakfast segment was broadcast at around 8.20am when children could have been watching, the programme was aimed at adults rather than children, and was not the sort of programme that children would typically be interested in. Children who were watching were not likely to be doing so unsupervised. Further, as we have said, most children would not have understood the comment or known what LSD was. The segment was brief, light-hearted, and it was unlikely to “disturb or alarm” child viewers.

[15]  For these reasons, we decline to uphold the complaint that Breakfast breached Standard 9.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
4 December 2012

Appendix

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

  1. Kevin Clancy’s formal complaint – 19 June 2012
  2. TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 16 July 2012
  3. Mr Clancy’s referral to the Authority – 19 July 2012
  4. TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 26 September 2012

1See, for example, Keane and TVNZ, Decision No. 2010-082

2See, for example, Hunt and Māori Television, Decision No. 2009-010