BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Bond and Prime Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-076

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Joanne Bond
Number
2005-076
Programme
Holmes
Channel/Station
Prime TV # 2

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Holmes – item on a strip club package for supporters of Lions rugby tour – naked women shown playing pool – demonstration of lap dancing – bedroom with mirrors shown – allegedly offensive, inappropriately classified and unsuitable for children – presenter said “stuff you bitch” at end of programme about another matter – allegedly offensive

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – context – not upheld

Standard 7 (programme classification) – not applicable to news and current affairs – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – sufficient earlier indications of focus of item – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] The package offered by a strip club for Lions rugby supporters was covered in an item on Holmes broadcast on Prime at 7.00pm on 24 May 2005. The item showed women practising a dance routine and others playing pool naked. The club owner demonstrated lap dancing with the host and showed rooms set aside for lap dancing. He also showed one of the bedrooms which was available to the club’s clients.

[2] At the end of the programme, the presenter turned to another topic. Commenting on the protests in central Otago to the plans for Canadian singer Shania Twain’s house, he said that the protesters’ attitude was summed up in the phrase “stuff you bitch”.

Complaint

[3] Joanne Bond complained to Prime Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the item breached the standards relating to good taste and decency, programme classification and children’s interests. She acknowledged that current affairs programmes were not classified but maintained that the item contained explicit sexual content and was suitable for adults only. It should not have been broadcast before 8.30pm, she contended.

[4] Specifically, she objected to the visuals of the naked women playing pool, to the owner’s demonstration of lap dancing, and to the visuals of the bedroom. She also objected to the use of the phrase “stuff you bitch”.

Standards

[5] Prime assessed the complaint against Standards 1, 7 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Code of Broadcasting Practice. They read:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Guideline 1a

Broadcasters must take into consideration current norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs. Examples of context are the time of the broadcast, the type of programme, the target audience, the use of warnings and the programme’s classification. The examples are not exhaustive.

Standard 7 Programme Classification

Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified and adequately display programme classification information, and that time-bands are adhered to.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times, broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6] Prime pointed out that the item was a response to a newspaper article about the package being offered by the owner of a strip club to Lions fans. It said that the presenter, before the item, had cautioned viewers that content could offend.

[7] As for the good taste and decency complaint, Prime contended that the naked women were in the background and were not explicitly featured. The two close-ups of the pool players, it continued, focused only on their heads. It described the lap dancing demonstrations as light-hearted and contended that neither sequence breached the standard.

[8 ]Prime said that while news and current affairs programmes were not rated, the content was usually PGR. In view of the context and the warning, it maintained that the item had not breached the classification standard.

[9] As for Standard 9, Prime argued that in view of the contextual matters mentioned, the item would neither disturb nor alarm children. The item, it wrote, would have less impact on a child than the material contained in the daily news.

[10] Prime did not address the use of the word “bitch”.

Referral to the Authority

[11] Dissatisfied with Prime’s response, Ms Bond referred her complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[12] With regard to the good taste and decency complaint, Ms Bond maintained that the naked women playing pool were clearly visible. She considered that sexual gratification was the “sole purpose” of lap dancing and the bedroom shown was to be used for sexual activity.

[13] Full frontal nudity, she argued, was shown only in programmes classified “AO”, and it was inappropriate at 7.00pm. The statement made by the presenter before the item to the effect that “this is as sexy as hell”, did not amount to a warning, she said.

[14] She repeated her complaint that the strip club item breached children’s interests. She also considered the phrase “stuff you bitch” was a profanity.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[15] Prime emphasised that the item was a light-hearted piece and quoted several extracts which indicated that approach. It also commented that current affairs items sometimes covered material with adult themes.

[16] As for the good taste and decency complaint, Prime reiterated the point that no attempt had been made to feature the naked players – “they were in the distant background and were out of focus and unlit”. The nudity displayed, it wrote, was less than contained in some recent items on nudism and nude sport. It did not accept that the light-hearted demonstration of fully clothed lap dancing involving the club owner breached the standard. It did not understand how the shot of the bedroom breached the standard, claiming that the item did not contain any references to sexual activity.

Complainant’s Final Comment

[17] Ms Bond maintained that the item which included “close ups of naked women” and “unpixilated frontal nudity” was too “sexy” for broadcast at 7.00pm. Moreover, she wrote, a strip bar was an R18 venue because of the nudity and sexual activity. Reiterating her complaint, that the item breached Standards 1, 7 and 9, Ms Bond added that unsupervised children might have been watching the item in view of the time of broadcast.

Authority's Determination

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

[19] The Authority notes that the Television Code states that news and current affairs programmes are not “subject to censorship or to the strictures of the classification system”. In view of this provision, the Authority does not uphold the complaint that the item transgressed Standard 7 (programme classification).

[20] When the Authority determines a complaint as to whether an item breaches Standard 1 (good taste and decency), it is required to take into account the context of the broadcast. In regard to the item on the strip club, the relevant matters on this occasion were:

  • the dim lighting and lack of clarity of the shots of the apparently naked women playing pool
  • the farcical demonstration of lap dancing which was performed by two fully clad middle-aged men
  • the unclassified nature of the programme
  • the PGR time band during which the programme was broadcast
  • the light-hearted tone of the item.

[21] Taking these matters into account, the Authority considers that Standard 1 was not breached. Further, and taking into account the indications given throughout the Holmes programme as to the nature of the item about the strip club, the Authority concludes that the broadcast did not breach Standard 9 (children’s interests).

[22] Ms Bond also complained about the host’s use of the phrase “stuff you bitch” at the end of the programme to sum up the attitude of the people in Central Otago who objected to the house which Shania Twain intended to build.

[23] The Authority notes that the comment was intended to be highly critical of those protesters and the host clearly meant to be provocative in presenting what he considered to be the attitude of those opposing the development. The Authority considers the comment verged on being sensational, especially when used by a highly experienced current affairs broadcaster. Nevertheless, the Authority notes that the host’s criticism was ironic and directed at a group of people, rather than as personal abuse. Accordingly, it accepts that the phrase, although borderline, did not breach the requirement for good taste and decency.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
20 September 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Joanne Bond’s formal complaint – 24 My 2005
  2. Prime’s response to the complaint – 1 June 2005
  3. Ms Bond’s referral to the Authority – 30 June
  4. Prime’s response to the Authority – 19 July 2005
  5. Ms Bond’s final comment – 9 August 2005