BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Alexander and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-080

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Sue Alexander
Number
2013-080
Programme
This town
Channel/Station
TV One

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

An episode of This Town showed footage of ducks being shot and then plucked and prepared for eating. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this encouraged cruelty to animals and was inappropriately rated G. While some viewers may have found the footage unpleasant, it was not unexpected or gratuitous as the subject matter was well signposted, and it highlighted the reality that we live in a society which eats meat and that animals must be killed and prepared in order for this to occur.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


Introduction

[1]  This Town, a documentary series about people living in small towns in New Zealand, profiled a group of duck hunters and showed footage of ducks being shot and then plucked and prepared for eating. The episode was classified G (General) and broadcast on Saturday 19 October 2013 at 7.30pm on TV ONE.

[2]  Sue Alexander made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the episode encouraged ‘cruelty to animals’ and ‘conditions people to be unconcerned about cruelty and violence’.

[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]  The good taste and decency standard is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing 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]  Ms Alexander argued that the footage showed violence and cruelty to animals which would have distressed many viewers, including children. In her view, the episode was inappropriately classified G.

[7]  TVNZ did not consider that the preparation of animals for eating constituted violence for the purposes of programme standards. Nor did it consider that the footage was likely to offend or distress most viewers in context. It said This Town was rated G but aimed at adult viewers and screened on a channel aimed at a more mature demographic. It stated, ‘It is a fact of life that if animals are to be eaten (which is permitted and acceptable in New Zealand and all countries around the world), then they will be killed and processed for eating.’

[8]  While some viewers may have found the footage unpleasant or uncomfortable to watch, we consider it was acceptable in context and did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency. This Town profiled the lives of people living in small towns in New Zealand and the footage subject to complaint was broadcast well into the programme and formed part of a real life story on the opening of duck hunting season. The subject matter was well signposted so footage of duck shooting, and the collection and plucking of the ducks afterwards, was not unexpected or gratuitous. In line with previous decisions on similar complaints, we find that the footage accurately reflected a facet of real life as it highlighted the reality that we live in a society which eats meat and that animals must be killed and prepared in order for this to occur.3

[9]  The footage did not constitute violence as envisaged by the standard and we are satisfied that it would not have offended or distressed most viewers in context. We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
4 March 2014

Appendix

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

1                  Sue Alexander’s formal complaint – 21 October 2013

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 11 November 2013

3                 Ms Alexander’s referral to the Authority – 18 November 2013

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 10 January 2013


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

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

3See for example, Irwin and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision Number 2013-037; Brady and TVWorks Ltd, Decision Number 2012-007; Irwin and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision Number 2011-171.