BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Dorrance and TVWorks Ltd - 2011-006

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Marisha Dorrance
Campbell Live
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – included shot of topless woman – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – nudity was non-sexual and matter-of-fact – part of unclassified current affairs programme aimed at adults – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – children unlikely to be watching Campbell Live unsupervised – children not likely to be disturbed or alarmed – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


[1]   During an episode of Campbell Live, broadcast on TV3 at 7pm on Friday 17 December 2010, the programme’s reporters each had one minute to review the stories they had worked on during the year 2010. One reporter began by saying, “Twenty-ten was a year that began with a big cause: one woman’s fight to be allowed to reveal almost all in public.” As he said this, there was a six-second shot of a woman exiting the water and walking up a beach towards the camera. She was topless, wearing only bikini bottoms. The woman was then shown from her shoulders up, saying, “It’s quite a freeing experience and yeah it’s something that I just really enjoy.”


[2]   Marisha Dorrance made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the shot of the topless woman breached standards relating to good taste and decency and children’s interests. She said that the shot appeared at 7.15pm, and considered that it was “totally inappropriate” for broadcast during children’s viewing times.


[3]   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

[4]   TVWorks argued that it was accepted by the Authority that although news and current affairs programmes screened prior to the Adults Only watershed at 8.30pm, these programmes were unlikely to be watched by unsupervised young children, who would be more interested in programming directed at them screening on other channels. It noted that under Appendix 1 of the Code, news and current affairs programmes were unclassified due to their distinct nature.

[5]   The broadcaster was of the view that “naked breasts are a natural part of the human body and not of themselves obscene, indecent or upsetting to children”. It considered that “the inclusion of the footage in the item was matter-of-fact and relevant”, and that it was part of a selection of individual stories from 2010 chosen by that particular reporter. TVWorks argued that the footage would not have been disturbing or alarming for young children.

[6]   The broadcaster apologised to the complainant if the item had upset her. However, it noted that the Authority had previously determined that news coverage including nudity in a particular context was not a breach of broadcasting standards (e.g. Forbes-Dawson and Others and CanWest TVWorks1 and Harang and TVNZ2).

[7]   TVWorks therefore declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

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

Authority's Determination

[9]   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)

[10]   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:

  • Campbell Live was an unclassified current affairs programme
  • it was broadcast at 7pm during the PGR time-band
  • the programme’s adult target audience
  • the item was not preceded by a warning.

[11]   We note that the item contained a six-second shot of a topless woman walking up a beach. We consider that the footage in this instance was relatively brief and inexplicit. The Authority has previously declined to uphold complaints about footage of topless women in the context of early evening news programmes.3

[12]   Further, we note that Campbell Live was screened at 7pm during the PGR time-band. The Authority has previously stated that unaccompanied young children are unlikely to watch news and current affairs programmes (see, for example, Angus and TVWorks Ltd4).

[13]   In these circumstances, we find that the footage did not require a verbal warning.

[14]   Taking into account the above contextual factors, in particular that the footage was screened during an unclassified current affairs programme aimed at adults, we decline to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[15]   Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm – and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[16]   The Authority has previously said that there is nothing inherently harmful to children in seeing non-sexual nudity in a news and current affairs programme (see Watts and TVNZ5). As noted above, we consider that children were unlikely to be watching Campbell Live unsupervised, and that the nudity was relatively brief and inexplicit. In our view, children in the company of an adult were unlikely to be disturbed or alarmed by the footage.

[17]   Accordingly, while we accept that the item was not preceded by a warning, we find that the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers in broadcasting the content during Campbell Live at 7pm.

[18]   We therefore 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
3 May 2011


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

1                  Marisha Dorrance’s formal complaint – 20 December 2010

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 24 December 2010

3                 Ms Dorrance’s referral to the Authority – 5 January 2011

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 21 March 2011

1Decision No. 2006-109

2Decision No. 2006-098

3For example, James and TVWorks Ltd (Decision No. 2009-127); Angus and TVWorks Ltd (Decision No. 2009-009); Howe and Torrey and TVWorks Ltd (Decision No. 2009-130)

4Decision No. 2009-009

5Decision No. 2005-041