Duncan and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-083 (28 January 2016)
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Paula Rose
- Gordon Duncan
ProgrammePromo for Step Dave
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
[This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A promo for Step Dave, broadcast during The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, showed two female characters kissing and brief sexual innuendo. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that it was inappropriate to screen such an ‘overtly sexual’ promo during a children’s movie. The promo included low-level sexual innuendo which was unlikely to be understood by younger viewers, and unlikely to disturb or offend most viewers in the context of the PGR host programme.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests
 A promo for Step Dave, broadcast during The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, showed two female characters kissing. One of the women said, referring to the two of them and the other woman’s boyfriend, ‘I think the three of us could have fun’.
 Gordon Duncan complained that the ‘overtly sexual’ nature of the promo was inappropriate for screening during a children’s movie.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 The promo was broadcast on TV2 sometime between 7pm and 9.50pm on Saturday 12 September 2015. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.
Did the promo breach broadcasting standards?
 As Mr Duncan’s complaint raises similar issues under the good taste and decency and children’s interests standards, we have addressed these standards together.
 The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2 The children’s interests standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. The purpose of the standard is to protect children from broadcasts which might adversely affect them.3
 Mr Duncan considered that the promo was ‘overtly sexual’ and inappropriate for child viewers. He said that the image of two women kissing was not the issue, but the kissing combined with the verbal interaction made it clear that the ‘fun’ being referred to was a ‘threesome’. Mr Duncan acknowledged that the promo was classified PGR but felt that Saturday evening is a time when many families are watching television and more care should have been taken when broadcasting the promo in this context.
 TVNZ argued that kissing is acceptable during promos screened in G and PGR time, and noted the promo only included one brief comment of a sexual nature. It did not consider this material to be overtly sexual as the characters were all clothed, no sexual acts were depicted and a ‘threesome’ was not explicitly mentioned. TVNZ argued that while adults and older teenagers may comprehend the meaning of the innuendo, younger viewers would not understand the reference. Overall TVNZ considered the material that was shown in the promo was suitable for a PGR classification and would not have disturbed or alarmed child viewers.
 When we consider a complaint under the nominated standards, we take into account relevant contextual factors, which in this case include:
- the promo was broadcast during the family movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- the PGR classification of the host programme and the promo
- Step Dave was classified AO (Adults Only)
- the target audience of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- audience expectations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
 The PGR classification is defined in Appendix 1 to the Code as ‘Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult’. While we accept the promo did contain sexual innuendo, we do not think it was inappropriate for supervised child viewers in the context of a PGR-rated movie, or that it would have offended a significant number of viewers generally.
 The Authority has previously held that kissing is acceptable in promos classified G and PGR.4 During the promo in question, the kiss between two female characters was non-sexual and brief. One woman appeared shocked and hesitant about the kiss. The complainant is not concerned by the kiss but by the combination of the kiss with the comment, ‘I think the three of us could have fun’. In our view this was an oblique reference to sexual activity that was not elaborated on and would not be understood by younger viewers. The PGR classification permits material that may be suited for mature audiences and carries with it the expectation that child viewers will be guided by parents or adults. We are satisfied that the content of the promo, constituting low-level sexual innuendo, did not exceed audience expectations of a PGR programme or threaten standards of good taste and decency.
 We acknowledge that the host programme The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was likely to be viewed by families. However, the movie itself contains some content which could be disturbing to younger children, such as low-level fantasy violence and mature themes. In this viewing environment we are satisfied that the Step Dave promo would not have unduly surprised or alarmed child viewers.
 Accordingly we do not the complaint that the promo breached Standards 1 and 9.
For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
28 January 2016
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Gordon Duncan’s formal complaint – 13 September 2015
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 12 October 2015
3 Mr Duncan’s referral to the Authority – 14 October 2015
4 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 26 November 2015
1 Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112
2 Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)
3 E.g. Harrison and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-066
4 For example, see Hindson and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-049. The Authority found that a promo for Go Girls broadcast during G-rated Masterchef, which showed two men kissing, was acceptable for a G classification as the kiss was brief and innocuous.