Allan and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-010
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Juliet Allan
ProgrammeScooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated – children’s cartoon showed characters kissing and making romantic comments – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests standards
Standard 1 (good taste and decency), Standard 8 (responsible programming), Standard 9 (children’s interests) – kissing scenes, including dialogue, were innocuous and inexplicit – content was consistent with programme’s G classification – scenes would not have offended most viewers or disturbed or alarmed children, and did not warrant a higher classification of PGR – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An episode of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a well-known children’s cartoon about four teenagers and their talking dog who investigate mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures, showed the characters Daphne and Shaggy embraced in a kiss while making romantic remarks. The episode was rated G and was broadcast at 7.25am on Wednesday 16 January 2013 on TV2.
 Juliet Allan made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the kissing scenes and commentary were inappropriate to screen in a children’s programme during their normally accepted viewing times.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached standards relating to good taste and decency (Standard 1), responsible programming (Standard 8) and children’s interests (Standard 9) as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 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 programme breach the good taste and decency, children’s interests and responsible programming standards?
 Ms Allan’s primary concern was the impact of the broadcast on children, arguing that the scenes involved “advanced intimate behaviour – both verbal and physical in nature,” exposing children to adult content, which was “damaging”. The children’s interests standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm, and avoid screening content which would disturb or alarm them. Stemming from her concerns about children, Ms Allan argued that the content also breached the good taste and decency, and responsible programming standards.
 TVNZ maintained that the programme was aimed at older children and noted that it often contained scary and comedic scenes. It considered that the content subject to complaint was consistent with the programme’s G classification, and was suitable for the target audience. The broadcaster noted that many classic children’s stories and cartoons involved romantic storylines which depicted characters kissing, for example, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast.
 Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated was broadcast at 7.25am and was rated G. The G classification is defined in Appendix 1 to the Code, as follows:
G – General
Programmes which exclude material likely to be unsuitable for children. Programmes may not necessarily be designed for child viewers but should not contain material likely to alarm or distress them.
 The approach taken by the Authority is that material broadcast in G time (6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm) should be appropriate for children and free from swearing, sexualised imagery, nudity or realistic violence.1 Kissing is not necessarily prohibited, provided its presentation is at a level that is acceptable for children.2
 The kissing scenes subject to complaint, as well as the accompanying dialogue, were, in our view, innocent and tame in nature. The scenes showed the characters Daphne and Shaggy sitting on a sofa in front of an open fireplace, as they held one another and kissed. The kissing was brief and implied, rather than “sexualised” or explicit. The fact the characters were animated, and the typical romantic backdrop and accompanying music, made the content clichéd or stereotypical, as opposed to realistic. The dialogue was not sexually explicit and did not contain any sexual innuendo, for example the characters stated:
- “I’ve missed you, missed you holding me, missed us.” (Daphne)
- “Oh Daphne, you are so perfect, so beautiful.” (Shaggy)
 We are satisfied that this content was consistent with the programme’s G classification, and was presented in a way that was appropriate for the programme’s target audience. The scenes subject to complaint were not likely to offend or distress most viewers when taken in context (Standard 1), would not have disturbed or alarmed children (Standard 9), and did not warrant a higher classification of PGR (Standard 8).
 Accordingly, 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
11 June 2013
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Juliet Allan’s formal complaint – 17 January 2013
2 TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 15 February 2013
3 Ms Allan’s referral to the Authority – 7 March 2013
1Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)
2See, for example, Ibousi and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2010-091.