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Feral and MediaWorks TV Ltd and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-143

Summary 

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

The Authority declined to uphold complaints that three broadcasts showing fishing and hunting were barbaric and cruel. As the Authority has noted in previous decisions on similar complaints from the complainant, killing and preparing animals to eat is a fact of life and her concerns are based primarily on personal lifestyle preferences, not broadcasting standards issues.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Law and Order, Controversial Issues, Fairness, Discrimination and Denigration, Responsible Programming, Children's Interests, Violence


Introduction

[1]  Peta Feral complained about three episodes of fishing and hunting programmes. In general, her complaints were that fishing and hunting are barbaric and cruel. More specifically, she objected to the practices of catch-and-release fishing, live baiting and boar hunting.

[2]  The issue is whether the broadcasts breached any of the standards set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. Specifically, Ms Feral nominated the good taste and decency, law and order, controversial issues, fairness, discrimination and denigration, responsible programming, children's interests and violence standards.

[3]  The programmes subject to complaint were an episode of Big Angry Fish broadcast on TV3 on 8 September 2014 and two episodes of The ITM Fishing Show broadcast on TV ONE on 13 September and 18 October 2014. The members of the Authority have viewed recordings of the broadcasts complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the broadcasts breach broadcasting standards?

[4]  Ms Feral argued that the practices of catch-and-release fishing, live baiting and boar hunting were barbaric, violent and cruel. She said that 'the fact that killing fish and other sentient animals is acceptable to the general populace... does not alter the fact that it is unethical and cruel.'

[5]  TVNZ argued that 'fishing to keep and eat fish is not considered to be "violence"' and 'the audience would reasonably expect such footage to be shown in... a sport fishing programme'. It did not consider the footage to be 'gruesome or gratuitous'. TVNZ also noted that the 18 October episode of The ITM Fishing Show contained a warning before a boar hunting scene, which stated, 'The following scene contains real footage of animals being hunted and killed for food. If you find this type of harvesting food disturbing, you might not want to watch.'

[6]  MediaWorks argued that the fishing practices shown 'were not unduly brutal or cruel' and did not amount to 'unacceptably strong or gratuitous violence'.

[7]  We recognise that some people have strong views about fishing, hunting and using animal products in cooking, as is their right, and that the shows complained about would have some element of offensiveness to those who hold such beliefs.

[8]  However, the reality is that we live in a society that eats meat and seafood, and animals and fish must be killed and prepared in order for this to happen. As we have said in previous decisions on similar complaints from Ms Feral,1 her concerns are based largely on personal lifestyle preferences, and do not raise issues of broadcasting standards which we can resolve within the ambit of the Code.2

[9]  The titles of the programmes complained about gave viewers a clear indication of their likely content. Viewers are able to make a different viewing choice if a programme is likely to offend them or conflict with their personal tastes, beliefs or values. We well understand that some viewers will see hunting and fishing being promoted as pursuits in themselves, will find this offensive and will make viewing choices accordingly. In our society these programmes are acceptable where there is no undue depiction of cruelty.

[10]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaints, and we note that Ms Feral has been put on notice that we may decline to determine complaints of a similar nature in future.3

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
4 March 2015

 

Appendix

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

Big Angry Fish
1     Peta Feral's formal complaint – 16 September 2014
2     MediaWorks' response to the complaint – 30 September 2014
3     Ms Feral's referral to the Authority – 1 October 2014
4     Ms Feral's further comments to the Authority – 20 November 2014
5     MediaWorks' response to the Authority – 12 December 2014
6     Ms Feral's final comments – 24 and 29 December 2014
7     MediaWorks' final comment – 5 January 2015

The ITM Fishing Show 13 September 2014
1     Ms Feral's formal complaint – 17 September 2014
2     TVNZ's response to the complaint – 14 October 2014
3     Ms Feral's referral to the Authority – 17 October 2014
4     Ms Feral's further comments to the Authority – 20 November 2014
5     TVNZ's final comment – 20 January 2015

The ITM Fishing Show 18 October 2014
1     Ms Feral's formal complaint – 24 October 2014
2     TVNZ's response to the complaint – 24 November 2014
3     Ms Feral's referral to the Authority – 26 November 2014
4     TVNZ's final comment – 20 January 2015

 

 


1Feral and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2014-107 and Feral and Choice TV Ltd, Decision No. 2014-121

2See section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

3Feral and Choice TV Ltd, Decision No. 2014-121