BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Forbes-Dawson, Popping and Wimalasena and CanWest TVWorks Ltd - 2006-109

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Paul France
  • Bodhi Wimalasena
  • Jennifer Forbes-Dawson
  • Olga Popping
3 News
CanWest TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 2

Tapu Misa declared a conflict of interest and declined to take part in the determination of this complaint.

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – item dealt with controversy about forthcoming Erotica Parade to be held in Auckland – included footage of bare-breasted women – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] An item on 3 News broadcast on TV3 at 6.00pm on 15 August 2006 dealt with controversy which had arisen after the Auckland City Council issued a permit for a parade down as part of the forthcoming Erotica Lifestyles Expo.  The item included footage from parades in earlier years including shots of two bare-breasted women riding respectively as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle and as a passenger in an open car.  It also included comments in support of the parade from the parade organisers and in opposition from the Auckland City Mayor.


[2] Jennifer Forbes-Dawson, Olga Popping and Bodhi Wimalasena each complained to CanWest TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, that the broadcast breached the requirement for good taste and decency.

[3] Jennifer Forbes-Dawson argued that the content was Adults Only (AO) and had been broadcast at an inappropriate time and in an inappropriate programme.

[4] Olga Popping noted that she was a close friend of Ms Forbes-Dawson and shared her views. The complaint from Bodhi Wimalasena raised the same issues.


[5] CanWest assess the complaint under Standard 1 of the free-to-air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which reads:

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.


1a   Broadcasters must 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. Examples of context are the time of the broadcast, the type of programme, the target audience, the use of warnings and the programme’s classification. The examples are not exhaustive.

1b   Broadcasters should consider – and if appropriate require – the use of on-air visual and verbal warnings when programmes contain violent material, material of a sexual nature, coarse language or other content likely to disturb children or offend a significant number of adult viewers. Warnings should be specific in nature, while avoiding detail which may itself distress or offend viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6] In an identical response to each complainant, TV3 explained that the context of a broadcast was relevant to the determination of a Standard 1 (good taste and decency) complaint. It considered that the first relevant contextual factor was that the item was included in a scheduled news programme which had an adult target audience. Further, it wrote, news and current affairs programmes were not classified and it contended that the Broadcasting Standards Authority accepted that news programmes were unlikely to be watched by unsupervised young children.

[7] On the basis that the fleeting footage of bare breasts was neither sexualised nor salacious, that it was unlikely to have caused offence to a significant number of viewers, and that it was in public interest in view of the controversy surrounding the proposed parade, TV3 declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

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

[9] Ms Forbes-Dawson maintained that “front-on footage of naked women” on the national news at 6.00pm was offensive. She considered that nudity in the news at that time would offend a significant number of viewers. Moreover, she noted that there had been no warning.

[10] The other two complainants expressed similar views.

Authority's Determination

[11] 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 notes that the complaints initially focused on the inclusion of the bare-breasted women which, they argued, breached the requirement for good taste and decency. The footage did not include “naked women” as the complainants alleged in their referrals. The Authority determines the complaints without a formal hearing.

[12] 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 fact that the parade was newsworthy in view of the controversy it had generated
  • the unclassified nature of the news
  • the Authority’s view that unaccompanied young children are unlikely to watch news programmes.

[13] The Authority also considers that the footage was neither gratuitous nor salacious, but was relevant to an item that addressed the controversy surrounding the parade. The controversy was covered in a serious manner and the item presented arguments both for and against the parade.

[14] In light of these contextual factors, the Authority considers that the broadcast, despite the lack of a warning, fell within the boundaries of the good taste and decency standard.


For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaints.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
19 December 2006


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

1           Jennifer Forbes-Dawson’s formal complaint – 20 August 2006

2           CanWest TVWorks Ltd’s response to the complainant – 15 September 2006

3          Jennifer Forbes-Dawson’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 2 October 2006

4          CanWest’s response to the Authority – 3 November 2006


1          Olga Popping’s formal complaint – 26 August 2006

2          CanWest TVWorks Ltd’s response to the complainant- 13 September 2006

3          Olga Popping’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 3 October 2006

4          CanWest’s response to the Authority – 3 November 2006


1          Bodhi Wimalasena’s formal complaint – 26 August 2006

2          CanWest TVWorks Ltd’s response to complainant – 13 September 2006

3          Bodhi Wimalasena’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 2 October 2006

4          CanWest’s response to the Authority – 3 November 2006