BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Chin and TVWorks Ltd - 2011-066

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Ann Chin
3 News
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – reported on world’s first 3D erotic film, Sex and Zen – included clips from the movie – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – legitimate news story – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – film clips were effectively censored – unclassified news programme targeted at adults – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  An item during 3 News, broadcast on TV3 at 6pm on 5 May 2011, reported on the opening of the world’s first 3D erotic film, Sex and Zen. The item was introduced as follows:

Thanks to Avatar, when people think of 3D films they probably conjure up the colour blue. But some may soon see red as the world’s first 3D erotic film reaches New Zealand. It’s already breaking records in Hong Kong. [Our reporter] asks, are we ready?

[2]  The reporter stated, “It’s billed as the world’s first 3D erotic film, soft core porn with a story. And worldwide it’s proving very popular.” Throughout the item, clips from the film were shown. Characters were mostly shown from the shoulders up, and were only shown kissing. Any nudity was censored.


[3]  Ann Chin made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached standards relating to good taste and decency and children’s interests. She described the item as “porn” and considered that “there is no need to show sex scenes during the news” while children were watching.


[4]  Standards 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. These provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[5]  TVWorks contended that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable in the context in which it was shown, including the programme’s classification, time of broadcast, target audience, and use of warnings. It noted that under Appendix 1 of the Code, news programmes are not classified due to their distinct nature.

[6]  TVWorks noted that the Authority had previously stated that the purpose of Standard 1 was not to prohibit challenging material, or material that some may find offensive. Its purpose was to ensure sufficient care was taken so that challenging material was played only in an appropriate context, and that the challenges were not so offensive that they were unacceptable regardless of context, it said.

[7]  The broadcaster argued that a news item about “the influence of technological advances in certain industries” was in the public interest. It maintained that it did not contain any nudity or sexual activity, and that “The story discussed [the movie’s] popularity in its country of origin and here in New Zealand and other factors, and did not focus on the erotic nature of the film’s content.”

[8]  TVWorks concluded that the item did not breach Standard 1.

[9]  With regard to Standard 9, the broadcaster noted that the Authority had previously accepted that children were unlikely to watch new programmes unsupervised. It reiterated that “the footage of the movie used in the story was sanitised of all nudity and sexual activity”, and therefore considered that it was not unsuitable for child viewers.

[10]  TVWorks declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 9.

Referral to the Authority

[11]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Ms Chin referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Authority’s Determination

[12]  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 1 (good taste and decency)

[13]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

  • 3 News was an unclassified news programme
  • it was broadcast at 6pm during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • the programme’s adult target audience.

[14]  In our view, the release of the world’s first 3D erotic film, which was proving to be extremely popular, constituted a legitimate news story. We consider that the clips from the film were carefully presented; they contained little more than kissing, and any nudity was effectively censored. In any case, we are of the view that the story did not dwell on the movie’s content, but rather focused on interesting facts about the movie’s release and its popularity, and the technological advances involved in making the film.

[15]  Taking into account the above contextual factors, in particular that the item screened as part of an unclassified news programme aimed at adults, we decline to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[16]  Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. Guideline 9a states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during those times and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[17]  The Authority has previously stated (e.g. Harang and TVNZ1) that children are unlikely to watch news programmes unsupervised. For this reason, when determining a complaint about children’s interests during the news, we consider whether the item was suitable for a child when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

[18]  As outlined above, we consider that this was a legitimate news story, and that the movie clips were discreet and carefully censored. In our view, the item did not contain any material that would have disturbed or alarmed child viewers, and was not unsuitable for children under the guidance of an adult.

[19]  We are therefore satisfied that TVWorks adequately considered the interests of child viewers in broadcasting the item during 3 News, and we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
9 August 2011


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

1                  Ann Chin’s formal complaint – 5 May 2011

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 13 May 2011

3                 Ms Chin’s referral to the Authority – 13 May 2011

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 27 May 2011

1Decision No. 2006-098