BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Blue and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-045

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Barry Blue
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Hooked in New Zealand – host and other competitors in a fishing competition shown drinking beer and shots of sambuca – allegedly in breach of law and order and liquor standards

Standard 11 (liquor) – programme contained liquor promotion but it was not socially irresponsible – not upheld

Standard 2 (law and order) – programme did not glamorise, promote or condone illegal behaviour – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  An episode of Hooked in New Zealand, a locally made fishing programme, was broadcast on TV One at 1.30pm on Sunday 13 February 2011. In this episode, the host and his friend entered the “Cleanco Classic” 24-hour fishing competition on Great Barrier Island. As the contestants gathered for the fishing competition, a number of the other fishermen were shown holding bottles of beer. Followed by this there was a shot of five bottles of Galliano Sambuca sitting on a table. The host and the competitors were shown holding bottles of beer, as the host interviewed them. There was another brief shot of bottles of Galliano and numerous shot glasses full of Sambuca, and then another shot of the competitors helping themselves to the shot glasses.

[2]  The competition began with the fishermen competing in a boat race. The host said, “But before we start, one shot of Sambuca each, then we’re into the boat race.” The host was shown drinking his shot, then saying, “Well that’s a way to start a fishing competition.” The host and his friend were then shown fishing for some time.

[3]  After an advertisement break the next segment recapped the theme of the episode, and the shot of Galliano bottles was briefly shown again, along with a very brief wide shot of the competitors on their boats, some holding beer bottles. The host and his friend were again shown fishing.

[4]  After the second advertisement break, the same recap was shown with the brief shots of the Galliano and of the competitors. The host and his friend were shown fishing until the end of the episode. There were brief shots of the competitors and the host holding beer bottles as their fish were being weighed in for the competition.


[5]  Barry Blue made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the programme breached standards relating to law and order and liquor promotion. He noted that the programme’s host was shown holding a bottle of beer while interviewing others who were also holding beer, and that the host also drank a shot of Sambuca. He alleged that the host said, “all boat races should start with a Sambuca”.

[6]  Mr Blue was of the view that “clearly alcohol was being glamorised and normalised as part of boating and fishing in an early afternoon timeslot”.


[7]  Standards 2 and 11 and guidelines 11a to 11d of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. These provide:

Standard 2 Law and Order

Broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Standard 11 Liquor

Broadcasters should observe restrictions on the promotion of liquor appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast. Liquor Promotion should be socially responsible and must not encourage consumption by people who are under the legal age to purchase liquor.


Liquor Promotion comprises:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’)


11a   Liquor Promotion must not appear in programmes specifically directed at children.

11b   Broadcasters must ensure that Liquor Promotion does not dominate programmes.

11c   Broadcasters must avoid advocacy of excessive liquor consumption.

11d   Broadcasters are not required to exclude promotion from coverage of an actual event or
        situation being broadcast where promotion is a normal feature of the event or situation
        but must take guideline 11b into account.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[8]  Looking first at Standard 2, TVNZ argued that, to breach the standard, a broadcast must not only implicitly condemn a particular law, but also actively promote disrespect for it. It contended that depiction or discussion of criminal behaviour was usually acceptable, but the exceptions tended to be if a broadcast explicitly instructed how to imitate an unusual criminal technique or suicide, or if it glamorised criminal activity. TVNZ maintained that the programme did not glamorise crime or condone the actions of criminals. It considered that the men were shown drinking in a socially responsible manner and no criminal behaviour took place. Accordingly, the broadcaster declined to uphold the Standard 2 complaint.

[9]  With regard to Standard 11, TVNZ maintained that the programme did not condone or promote the consumption of alcohol in a socially irresponsible manner. It argued that liquor was a normal part of the fishing competition and while some alcohol was featured in the programme, the participants were drinking in a socially responsible manner in the footage, none of them were under the legal age for consuming alcohol, and none of them were visibly intoxicated. The broadcaster maintained that while the host and some of the competitors were shown holding bottles of beer, they were not shown drinking the beer, and there were no verbal references to the beer.

[10]  TVNZ noted that the only verbal references to alcohol in the episode occurred when the competitors had a single shot of Sambuca. It argued that:

One competitor can clearly be heard saying in a jovial manner that he “(doesn’t like Sambuca)” (a sentiment the presenter agrees with) before the presenter is seen taking a shot. After drinking the Sambuca [the presenter] remarks, “That’s the way to start a fishing competition.” This is a light-hearted and comedic response from the presenter that represents his personal opinion (given that he has stated earlier that he also doesn’t like Sambuca).

[11]  TVNZ argued that liquor promotion did not dominate the programme, and noted that the footage containing liquor was only approximately 1 minute and 50 seconds long, while the length of the episode was over 22 minutes. It considered that “This minimal amount of material containing references to alcohol does not dominate or supersede the main subject matter of the programme (fishing).”

[12]  The broadcaster concluded that liquor consumption was portrayed in a socially responsible manner in the programme, and it declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 11.

Referral to the Authority

[13]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Blue referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He argued that “TVNZ has supported the use of alcohol and boating, an activity which kills people in New Zealand”. He noted that the programme was broadcast on Sunday afternoon when children could be viewing. Mr Blue considered that the host’s comment, “That’s the way to start a boat race” after drinking Sambuca “can only be described as liquor promotion”, and that the shots of the host and competitors drinking beer “clearly infers beer was drunk as well as Sambuca” which was “clearly an indication of excessive alcohol use prior to boating”.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[14]  TVNZ noted that Hooked in New Zealand was not aimed at child viewers and screened in between Coastwatch and Skoda Game On, as part of a programme line-up targeted at adult viewers.

Authority’s Determination

[15]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Standard 11 (liquor)

[16]  There is a two-stage test involved in determining whether there has been a breach of Standard 11. We must first decide whether the broadcast constituted “liquor promotion” and, if it did, we must then consider whether the liquor promotion was socially responsible. Looking at the first limb of the test, we note that Standard 11 defines “liquor promotion” as:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’).

[17]  We note that the programme contained several clear shots of Galliano Sambuca. In our view this amounted to promotion of a liquor product, and of the Galliano brand.

[18]  Having found that the programme contained liquor promotion, we must now consider whether that promotion was socially responsible. While we understand the complainant’s concern that the programme depicted the mixing of boats and fishing with alcohol, in our view, the liquor promotion was not excessive and did not dominate the programme. The programme was clearly focused on fishing and the camaraderie among the fishermen, and simply highlighted the fishermen’s tradition of drinking shots of Sambuca to open the fishing competition. None of the men were visibly intoxicated. We also note that the programme was not targeted at children, and that it did not advocate the consumption of liquor by people under the legal drinking age.

[19]  Accordingly, we find that the liquor promotion in the programme was socially responsible, and we decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 11.

Standard 2 (law and order)

[20]  Mr Blue’s concern was that the programme glamorised the combination of alcohol consumption and boating and fishing.

[21]  The Authority has stated on a number of occasions that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage the audience to break the law or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity (e.g. Taylor and TVWorks1).

[22]  We note that consuming alcohol while on board a boat, and sailing while intoxicated, are not criminal offences.

[23]  In any case, as noted above, while the programme contained footage of the fishermen holding beer bottles and drinking a single shot of Sambuca, none of the men appeared to be drunk. We also note that the fishermen were only shown drinking on the wharf, and not while they were operating boats or fishing out on the open water.

[24]  Accordingly, we are satisfied that the programme did not encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone illegal behaviour. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 2.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
8 July 2011


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

1    Barry Blue’s formal complaint – 13 February 2011

2   TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 14 March 2011

3   Mr Blue’s referral to the Authority – 7 April 2011

4   TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 27 May 2011

1Decision No. 2010-008