BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Dulver and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2016-064 (3 November 2016)

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
Dated
Complainant
  • Karl Dulver
Number
2016-064
Broadcaster
MediaWorks TV Ltd
Channel/Station
TV3 # 4

Summary

[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

During an episode of The Block NZ: Girls Vs Boys, contestants ‘Dyls’ and ‘Dylz’ competed in an ongoing ‘Odd Jobs Challenge’, winning $10,000. However, the team was penalised $5,000 for using power tools after hours. When the show’s host, Mark Richardson, and its resident builder and site foreman, informed the team about the penalty, Dyls swore profusely (with swear words censored), knocked a hard hat off a table and knocked down a large piece of plywood. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this segment breached the violence standard. While Dyls lost his temper and acted childishly, his behaviour did not amount to ‘violence’ as envisaged by the standard. Any coarse language was censored and Dyls was not physically violent or threatening toward any member of the show during the incident.

Not Upheld: Violence


Introduction

[1]  During an episode of The Block NZ: Girls Vs Boys, contestants ‘Dyls’ and ‘Dylz’ competed in an ongoing ‘Odd Jobs Challenge’, winning $10,000. However, the team was penalised $5,000 for using power tools after hours. The show’s host, Mark Richardson, and its resident builder and site foreman, informed the team about the penalty, Dyls swore profusely (with swear words censored), knocked a hard hat off a table and knocked down a large piece of plywood. After an ad break, the host commented that Dyls had ‘lost it’, and that ‘it sort of went as I expected, to tell you the truth’. Other teams also commented negatively on Dyls’ behaviour.

[2]  Karl Dulver complained that this segment breached the violence standard. He said that watching Dyls ‘abuse’ Mr Richardson and the site foreman and ‘smash things up’ sent the wrong message to people in New Zealand, and the broadcaster should not have aired the behaviour of someone who could not control their anger.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the violence standard, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The programme was broadcast on 27 July 2016 on TV3 at 7.30pm. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Jurisdictional matter – scope of complaint

[5]  In response to the broadcaster’s finding on his complaint and in his referral to the Authority, Mr Dulver said that he also wanted to complain about other aspects of Dyls and Dylz’s behaviour during the show.

[6]  In its response to Mr Dulver, MediaWorks advised that if he wished to complain about a new broadcast and/or raise new concerns, he was required to lodge a formal complaint, specifying the date and time this content appeared on the programme.

[7]  The Authority’s well-established approach to the scope of complaints and their determination is that our jurisdiction is limited to matters raised in the original complaint, and cannot extend to issues raised at a later stage in the complaints process.1 We agree that Mr Dulver’s concerns about additional material concerning Dyls and Dylz during the programme series were not the subject of his original complaint, which was limited to Dyls’ behaviour during the episode broadcast on 27 July 2016.

[8]  Therefore we must limit our determination to the concerns outlined in Mr Dulver’s original complaint, and to the recording that has been provided to us.

Did the broadcaster exercise adequate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence?

[9]  The violence standard (Standard 4) states that broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence. Violent content should be appropriate to the context of the programme, and classified carefully.

The parties’ submissions

[10]  Mr Dulver submitted that Dyls’ behaviour was verbally and emotionally violent during this episode. He said that broadcasting such behaviour was ‘a good way to make kids think it’s OK to verbally abuse... and threaten people’. He was concerned that broadcasting a contestant who could not control his anger sent ‘all the wrong messages to people in [New Zealand]’.

[11]  MediaWorks said that while it agreed Dyls acted aggressively, the episode did not in fact contain any acts or threats of violence. In its view, verbal conflict and poor behaviour in stressful situations was a key feature of reality television shows such as The Block. However, MediaWorks said that the aggression displayed by Dyls was not sanctioned or made light of during the episode, as the site foreman and host, as well as other contestants on the site, did not accept or support Dyls’ behaviour. Ultimately, MediaWorks said that it was Dyls who came across poorly in the episode.

Our analysis

[12]  When we consider a complaint under the violence standard, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • the programme’s PGR classification
  • the time of broadcast at 7.30pm
  • the absence of any warning preceding the episode
  • the nature of The Block NZ: Girls Vs Boys, a competitive reality television series
  • audience expectations of The Block NZ, which is a house renovation competition and often depicts stressful or demanding situations for contestants.

[13]  While Dyls lost his temper and acted childishly, we do not consider his behaviour amounted to ‘violence’, as envisaged by Standard 4. Any coarse language used by Dyls in this segment was censored and Dyls was not physically violent or threatening toward any member of the show during the incident. While he acted aggressively by knocking over a hard hat and knocking down a sheet of plywood, this did not harm any individuals and his behaviour was commented on negatively by the show’s host and other contestants.

[14]  We also consider that the broadcast of footage of Dyls’ behaviour was justified by the show’s context. His bad temper and extreme reaction highlighted the ongoing rift between his team and other contestants, and highlighted the better sportsmanship of other teams during the competition. His actions were not directed at any person, but simply expressed his anger and frustration at losing half of his team’s prize money.

[15]  The Block NZ: Girls Vs Boys, and other similar home renovation shows, often feature demanding situations for competitors, who can become stressed and react in exaggerated ways. While The Block NZ is generally a family-oriented show, it is classified PGR, indicating to the audience that some parental supervision may be required for the show’s content. In these circumstances, we do not consider that the content of this episode went beyond what would be expected, and viewers would not have been unduly disturbed by Dyls’ behaviour.

[16]  We therefore do not uphold this complaint under Standard 4.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

 

Peter Radich
Chair
3 November 2016

 

Appendix

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

1     Karl Dulver’s formal complaint – 29 July 2016
2     MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 23 August 2016
3     Mr Dulver’s response and further complaint – 23 August 2016
4     MediaWorks’ response to Mr Dulver – 30 August 2016
5     Mr Dulver’s referral to the Authority – 30 August 2016
6     MediaWorks’ response to the referral – 5 September 2016
7     MediaWorks’ additional comments on jurisdiction – 15 September 2016
8     Mr Dulver’s additional comments on jurisdiction – 20 September 2016

 

 


1 For example, see Dunstan and Radio New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2015-052 at [7]