BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Dixon and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 2002-059

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • B Hayward
  • R Bryant
  • J H McGregor
Dated
Complainant
  • Trevor Dixon
Number
2002-059
Programme
The Big OE
Channel/Station
TV3

Complaint
The Big OE – series following young New Zealanders on tour of Europe – reference to "drinking and shagging" – breach of good taste and decency

Findings
Standard G2 – PGR rating appropriate – context – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

[1] The Big OE was a series broadcast on TV3 on Thursday nights at 8.00pm which followed a group of young New Zealanders on a 21-day tour around Europe.

[2] Trevor Dixon complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the episode broadcast on 29 November 2001 breached standards of good taste and decency. In particular, he objected to a reference to "drinking and shagging" made by one of the participants.

[3] TV3 declined to uphold the complaint, stating that the programme was rated PGR, screened during PGR time, and was accompanied by a verbal and visual warning.

[4] Dissatisfied with TV3’s response, Mr Dixon referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

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

Decision

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

The Programme

[6] The Big OE was a series broadcast on TV3 on Thursday nights at 8.00pm which followed a group of young New Zealanders on a 21-day tour around Europe.

The Complaint

[7] Trevor Dixon complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the episode broadcast on 29 November 2001 breached standards of good taste and decency. In particular, he objected to a reference to "drinking and shagging" made by one of the participants. He objected to the programme being broadcast at 8.00pm when young people could be watching, and to the programme’s content which he said set a poor example.

The Standards

[8] TV3 assessed Mr Dixon’s complaint under Standard G2 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which requires broadcasters, in the preparation and presentation of programmes:

G2  To 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.

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[9] TV3 responded that The Big OE was rated PGR and screened appropriately during PGR time. It said the programme was preceded by a verbal and visual warning as follows:

This programme may not be suitable for younger family members and parental guidance is advised.

[10] TV3 said the sequence which was the basis of the complaint looked at the expectations the New Zealanders had regarding the bus tour and their European experience. One of the young men said:

Everybody that I’ve spoken to, that’s come on these trips, have said that that’s all it is, it’s just hard-out partying, drinking, shagging, etc. I thought I’d better come over here and do the rest of the trip a favour and put some moral fibre into the atmosphere.

[11] The broadcaster said its Standards Committee found nothing in the sequence, or in The Big OE as a whole, which could be considered outside currently accepted norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour, or inappropriate in the context of a PGR rating or timeslot.

[12] Accordingly, TV3 declined to uphold the complaint.

The Complainant’s Referral to the Authority

[13] Mr Dixon accompanied his referral to the Authority with a copy of a letter written to TV3 in response to its decision not to uphold his complaint. In his letter to TV3, he wrote that it was a "cop out" to decline to uphold the complaint on the basis of context. What was actually broadcast was "unnecessary, coarse, dirty and guttersnipe talk," he said. In reference to the programme's PGR rating, Mr Dixon said:

(Fact) in 70% of household most children have a tv in their bedroom. (Fact) the screening was in my view too early. Do you not think that an overseas travel documentary (and an excellent production I might add) was ruined by the coarse expressions and language? Do you not think that it was in poor taste and sending out bad and wrong signals to our youngsters, where this nation now has problems with youth bingeing and killings because of over consumption of alcohol and unwanted pregnancies?

[14] Mr Dixon said he also felt that "loyal elderly viewers would not appreciate this unnecessary dirty language".

The Complainant’s Final Comment

[15] In his final comment, Mr Dixon continued to maintain that the programme contained inappropriate content for screening within the viewing time of younger people.

The Authority’s Determination

[16] When it determines a complaint about whether a broadcast contravenes standard G2 of the Television Code, the Authority is required to determine whether the material complained about breached currently accepted standards of good taste and decency, taking into account the context of the broadcast. The context is relevant but not determinative of whether the programme breached the standard. Accordingly, the Authority has considered the context of the comments complained about.

[17] The Authority considers the following contextual matters are relevant:

  • the programme’s PGR rating;
  • the verbal and visual warning that preceded the broadcast; and
  • the time of screening – 8.00pm.

[18] In view of these matters and taking into account that the programme was light-hearted in portraying some young New Zealanders on their overseas experiences – and included the use of the vernacular – the Authority finds that it did not breach the standard.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
23 May 2002

Appendix

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

  1. Trevor Dixon's Formal Complaint to TV3 Network Services Ltd – 10 December 2001
  2. TV3's Response to the Formal Complaint – 18 February 2002
  3. Mr Dixon's Response to TV3 – 27 February 2002
  4. Mr Dixon's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 27 February 2002
  5. TV3's Response to the Authority – 20 March 2002
  6. Mr Dixon's Final Comment – 9 April 2002