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Walker and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-051

Members

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

Complainant

  • Jason Walker of Milton

Dated

1st October 2013

Number

2013-051

Channel/Station

TV2

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Horace in Slow Motion – showed cartoon pig ‘picking his nose and eating it’ – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency standard

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – typical children’s humour – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Introduction

[1]  Horace in Slow Motion, a 45-second cartoon about Horace the pig, showed Horace ‘picking his nose and eating it’. The footage was accompanied by audio of children saying, “Ewww, you’re gross, Horace.” The short programme was classified G (General) and broadcast at 5pm on Tuesday 18 June 2013 on TV2.

[2]  Jason Walker made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that it was “unacceptable [in] today’s society to pick you[r] nose and eat it”.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in 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 threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  Standard 1 (good taste and decency) is primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain 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

[6]  TVNZ described Horace in Slow Motion as a short “comedic cartoon about a pig who wears shorts for clothing and performs humorously disgusting bodily acts in slow motion”. It noted that other episodes showed Horace “belching, farting, shaking his booty, accidentally eating a snail and popping a zit”. The broadcaster did not consider that the broadcast would have offended or distressed most viewers, in light of the following contextual factors:

  • the programme was made specifically for children and was classified G
  • the cartoon was brief and screened among other children’s programming
  • the habit of picking one’s nose and eating it was “unpleasant” but was “not uncommon in real life”
  • while adults may consider such behaviour “revolting”, many children enjoyed “gross out” humour and it was a common feature of children’s programming.

[7]  The premise of the programme was a chubby cartoon pig performing bodily acts in slow motion that were purposefully “gross” and “disgusting” so as to appeal to the typical humour of the target audience of children. We agree with TVNZ that while adults may consider such behaviour inappropriate, many children enjoy “gross out” humour, which often features in children’s programming.

[8]  The programme was extremely brief, being only 45 seconds in length. It was obviously over-the-top and unrealistic, and the accompanying dialogue acknowledged it was “gross”, indicating to child viewers that this type of behaviour was not socially acceptable. We are satisfied that the footage of a cartoon pig ‘picking his nose and eating it’ was permissible in a programme designed to entertain children.

[9]  Accordingly, we find that this episode of Horace in Slow Motion did not exceed 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
1 October 2013

Appendix

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

1          Jason Walker’s formal complaint  – 18 June 2013

2          TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 10 July 2013

3          Mr Walker’s referral to the Authority – 18 July 2013

4          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 6 August 2013


1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

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