Denham and CanWest TVWorks Ltd - 2006-071
- Joanne Morris (Chair)
- Diane Musgrave
- Tapu Misa
- Paul France
- R Denham
BroadcasterCanWest TVWorks Ltd
Channel/StationC4 # 2
Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Intellectual Property – video clip showed people in a laundromat using washing machines and dryers for unorthodox purposes – showed a boy taking a dog out of a washing machine and placing it into a dryer – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – not broadcast during “children’s normally accepted viewing times” – standard does not apply – not upheld
Standard 10 (violence) – placing dog in a dryer was not an act of violence to which the standard applies – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 The video clip for a song entitled “The Blues are Still Blue”, by Belle and Sebastian, was broadcast on C4 on Intellectual Property at approximately 10.49pm on 16 May 2006. The video was set in a laundromat where people were seen using washing machines and dryers for unorthodox purposes such as gardening, fishing, making candy floss, baking, and making popcorn. It also showed people climbing in and out of the machines undergoing various transformations, and a young boy taking a dog out of a washing machine and placing it into a dryer.
 Ms R Denham made a formal complaint to CanWest TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, about the act of placing the dog into the dryer. She was concerned that this could “give bad ideas to children…or to copycat sadists”. Ms Denham acknowledged that the broadcast had occurred in a late timeslot, but argued that it could have been videotaped and shown to children. She nominated Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 9 (children’s interests) and 10 (violence).
 CanWest assessed the complaint under the standards nominated by the complainant. They provide:
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.
Standard 9 Children’s Interests
During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix1), broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.
Standard 10 Violence
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.
Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant
 In its response, CanWest noted that Intellectual Property had screened in AO time and had been given an AO rating. It contended that the actions of all the people in the laundromat had been gentle and obviously not intended to cause damage or harm. CanWest wrote that the “vision in the video” was whimsical and not related to reality, as none of the actions portrayed was an appropriate use for washing machines and dryers.
 Considering Standard 1 (good taste and decency), CanWest asserted that the relevant contextual factors included the time of the broadcast at 10.49pm, the AO rating, and the tone of the video. It contended that the content of the video was intended to be fanciful and unrealistic, and the adult target audience watching C4 at 10.49pm would understand this. The broadcaster declined to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.
 With respect to Standard 9 (children’s interests), CanWest noted that 10.40pm on a Tuesday night was not considered “children’s normally accepted viewing times”. It did not uphold this part of the complaint.
 Looking at Standard 10 (violence), the broadcaster maintained that no acts of violence had been shown in the video. It found that the standard was not breached.
Referral to the Authority
 Dissatisfied with CanWest’s decision, Ms Denham referred her complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She contended that viewers would not know that the dog had not been hurt, and that people with “sick minds or sadistic tendencies” could imitate the actions shown. Ms Denham questioned why it was necessary to show such a “suggestive” item.
 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)
 When the Authority considers a complaint alleging a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into consideration the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, relevant contextual factors include the programme’s AO classification, the time of the broadcast at 10.49pm, and the adult target audience.
 In addition, the Authority agrees with CanWest that the video was transparently fanciful and unrealistic. Further, the child did not switch the dryer on after placing the dog inside, and the animal was obviously not harmed. The Authority concludes that Standard 1 was not breached.
Standard 9 (children’s interests)
 The Authority notes that the video complained about screened at 10.49pm. Because Standard 9 only applies to programmes broadcast during “children’s normally accepted viewing times”, the Authority finds that the standard has no application on this occasion. It declines to uphold this part of the complaint.
Standard 10 (violence)
 Standard 10 requires broadcasters to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence. In the Authority’s view, the act of placing a dog into a clothes dryer in an obviously farcical video did not amount to “violence” as envisaged by Standard 10. Accordingly, the Authority concludes that this standard does not apply.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
11 September 2006
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
- Ms R Denham’s formal complaint – 26 May 2006
- CanWest TVWorks Ltd’s decision on the formal complaint – 29 June 2006
- Ms Denham’s referral to the Authority – 4 July 2006
- CanWest TVWorks Ltd’s response to the referral – 17 July 2006