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Moodie and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2014-073

Members

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

Complainant

  • Heather Moodie of Auckland

Dated

21st August 2014

Number

2014-073

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

MediaWorks TV Ltd


Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The Paul Henry Show screened a clip showing several rodents running on a working turntable accompanied by music. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this constituted animal cruelty and breached standards of good taste and decency. This was a quirky internet clip, it was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, and the Authority had no reason to believe the animals were treated cruelly.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1  The Paul Henry Show screened an internet clip showing several rodents running on a working turntable accompanied by music. The programme was broadcast on TV3 on 22 May 2014 at 10.30pm.

[2]  Heather Moodie made a formal complaint to MediaWorks TV Ltd (MediaWorks), alleging that the footage constituted cruelty to animals.

[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 item threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.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]  Ms Moodie alleged that the footage showed rodents ‘exhausted’ and ‘traumatised’ with ‘nowhere they could go’. She considered that the footage contravened the ‘decency’ standard as it was a ‘cruel example of animal abuse and set a dangerous precedent for young people’.

[7]  MediaWorks maintained that it had no reason to believe the animals were treated cruelly or endured long periods on the turntables.

[8]  When we consider a complaint about good taste and decency or responsible programming, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • The Paul Henry Show was broadcast at 10.30pm
  • the programme’s adult target audience
  • the well-known style of the programme, and of the host
  • the clip was light-hearted and intended to be entertaining
  • it was taken from the internet, not produced by the broadcaster.

[9]  The clip, which was a quirky video taken from the internet, consisted of various shots showing a number of different rodents on the turntable for brief periods, each with a different piece of music. The clip was light-hearted and intended purely for the purposes of humour and entertainment. It screened in a late-night timeslot with an adult target audience. We have no reason to believe that the animals were treated cruelly in the filming of this clip. The original ‘Rodents on Turntables’ video online carries a disclaimer at its conclusion which states, ‘No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Animals were trained and handled by professional animal trainers. Please do not try this at home.’

[10]  We are satisfied that the programme did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency and would not have offended or distressed most viewers in context. We therefore 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
21 August 2014

Appendix

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

1            Heather Moodie’s formal complaint – 23 May 2014

2            MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 26 May 2014

3            Ms Moodie’s referral to the Authority – 18 June 2014

4            MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 19 June 2014


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

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