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Hodgins and Mediaworks TV Ltd - 2016-071 (2 December 2016)

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose

Complainant

  • Kate Hodgins

Dated

2nd December 2016

Number

2016-071

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

MediaWorks TV Ltd

Summary

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

Two Entertainment Tonight episodes, classified PGR, were broadcast prior to children’s programme Sticky TV, which was classified G. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the Entertainment Tonight episodes contained content that was unsuitable for children, and that PGR programmes such as this should not be broadcast immediately prior to children’s programming. Taking into account the context of the broadcast, the Authority found the Entertainment Tonight episodes were within audience expectations of the programme and the PGR classification. The episodes did not contain any strong or adult content, particularly during the transition to Sticky TV, and would not have adversely affected any child viewers when subject to adult supervision.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests


Introduction

[1]  Two Entertainment Tonight episodes, classified PGR, were broadcast prior to children’s programme Sticky TV, which was classified G. The Entertainment Tonight episodes featured entertainment stories and celebrity news, and included brief verbal references to a ‘one-night stand’, ‘affairs’ and allegations of antisocial behaviour.

[2]  Kate Hodgins complained that Entertainment Tonight contained images, language and sexual references which were not suitable for children. She considered PGR programmes such as Entertainment Tonight should not be broadcast immediately prior to children’s programming that is classified G.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The two episodes were broadcast on TV3 at 2.55pm on 8 and 17 August 2016. 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?

[5]  Ms Hodgins’ complaint raises similar issues under the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards. As the same contextual factors and other considerations are relevant to our assessment of both standards, we have addressed them together.

[6]  The children’s interests standard (Standard 3) states that broadcasters should ensure children can be protected from broadcasts which might adversely affect them.

[7]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) similarly aims to protect audience members from viewing broadcasts that are likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress. Broadcasters should take effective steps to inform audiences of the nature of the programme, and enable viewers to regulate their own and children’s viewing behaviour.1

The parties’ submissions

[8]  In summary, Ms Hodgins argued the two Entertainment Tonight episodes breached standards for the following reasons:

  • The episodes contained images, language and sexual references that, while classified PGR, were ‘entirely incompatible’ with the subsequent G-rated programme.
  • Only G-rated programmes should be broadcast around children’s programming.
  • Parents do not expect to have to monitor their children’s viewing at 2.55pm, and if programmes require adult supervision, these should be broadcast later in the day.

[9]  MediaWorks submitted that standards were not breached for the following reasons:

  • The episodes were correctly classified PGR, and as a consistently scheduled programme in PGR time, adults were given appropriate information to allow them to regulate their children’s viewing.
  • The episodes contained only very low-level and inexplicit references to sexual activity and antisocial behaviour.
  • No strong material was broadcast close to the transition to G content.
  • Entertainment Tonight is not targeted at a child audience and the content of the episodes would have been within audience expectations of the programme and the PGR classification.
  • Neither of the broadcasts would have unduly disturbed, harmed or impaired child viewers subject to adult supervision.

Our analysis

[10]  When we consider a complaint under the nominated standards, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • Entertainment Tonight was classified PGR and broadcast at 2.55pm
  • Entertainment Tonight is regularly broadcast at the same time on weekdays
  • children are not the target audience of Entertainment Tonight but may form part of the likely audience
  • the nature of Entertainment Tonight as an entertainment and celebrity news programme
  • the scheduling of Entertainment Tonight prior to children’s programme Sticky TV, which was classified G
  • audience expectations of the programme.

[11]  Having regard to these contextual factors, in our view the content of the two Entertainment Tonight episodes was consistent with audience expectations of both the programme and the PGR classification, and would not have adversely affected child viewers. The PGR classification is defined as follows:2

PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended

Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult.

PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and after 7pm until 6am.

[12]  During the day, broadcasters are permitted to schedule PGR programmes between 9am and 4pm. The intention of the free-to-air television regime is to ensure broadcasters provide sufficient programme information to audiences so they can regulate their own, and their children’s, viewing behaviour. Classifications and timebands form part of this information and give an indication to viewers of a programme’s likely content.

[13]  We recognise that the complainant’s concerns relate to the scheduling of PGR programming immediately prior to G programming. While children are not the target audience of an entertainment and celebrity news programme such as Entertainment Tonight, which is aimed at adults, the programme was partially broadcast in the after-school timeslot and immediately before children’s programming, which was classified G. Therefore we acknowledge that children may have formed part of the likely audience.

[14]  Nevertheless, we are satisfied that the first episode, broadcast on 8 August 2016, did not contain any material which could be described as adult or strong content. The episode was appropriate for the PGR classification and timeslot and would have been suitable for any children who may have been watching.

[15]  The second episode, broadcast on 17 August 2016, did contain some low-level sexual and antisocial references. There were mentions of a ‘one-night stand’, ‘affairs’, and a verbal description of the allegation that Johnny Depp cut his finger and wrote a message to his ex-partner in a mixture of paint and blood. Without any elaboration, explicit detail or visual depiction, we consider these references were consistent with the PGR classification. They were not unexpected in the context of an entertainment and celebrity news programme, as they related to a high-profile celebrity divorce.

[16]  Additionally, the final segments in each Entertainment Tonight episode immediately preceding Sticky TV were light-hearted and ‘feel-good’ stories. The segments featured kitten Olympics and celebrity birthdays. We consider these stories would be unlikely to distress or disturb any children who were watching during the transition to Sticky TV.

[17]  For these reasons, we find that the broadcast would not have disturbed, offended or adversely affected viewers, including children. We therefore do not uphold the complaint under Standards 1 and 3.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

  

Peter Radich
Chair
2 December 2016

  

Appendix

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

1      Kate Hodgins’s formal complaint – 18 August 2016
2      MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 13 September 2016
3      Ms Hodgins’s referral to the Authority – 14 September 2016
4      MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 21 September 2016

 


1 Guideline 1b to Standard 1

 2 Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 9