BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Francis and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-123

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Ken Francis
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Nothing Trivial – broadcast during One News – characters used the terms “balls”, “arse” and “bastard” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – language of a low level – One News aimed at adult audience – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests by broadcasting the promo during One News – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


[1]  A promo for Nothing Trivial, a drama following the personal lives of members of a pub quiz team, was broadcast on TV One between 6pm and 7pm on Wednesday 24 August 2011, during One News which was unclassified. In the promo, the characters made the following comments:

  • “Listen up buddy, if you mess with my friend I will nail your balls to the back of my car and then drive off.”
  • “No member of ‘Sex on a Stick’ can be in a relationship.”
  • “That would be you out on your arse.”
  • “I’m not going to sit at the same table as that smug bastard, so I quit.”

[2]  Ken Francis made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo’s reference to “nailing someone’s balls to the wall”, and use of the words “arse” and “bastard” before 8.30pm, breached standards relating to good taste and decency and children’s interests.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast of the promo in this timeslot breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 9 (children’s interests) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  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 standards of good taste and decency?

[5]  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:

  • the promo was broadcast between 6pm and 7pm during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • it was broadcast during One News which was unclassified
  • One News had an adult target audience
  • expectations of regular viewers of One News
  • Nothing Trivial was classified AO and broadcast at 8.30pm.

[6]  In our view, while the language used in the promo was somewhat coarse, it was not of a level that was likely to offend most viewers, given the context in which it screened. We note that the promo was broadcast during One News, which was unclassified and targeted at adults. In our view, the language was intended as a representation of New Zealand slang in a manner that was humorous, as opposed to nasty or abusive. It was of a relatively low level, and we consider that the reference to nailing someone’s “balls to the back of my car” would have gone over the heads of younger viewers.

[7]  Taking into account the above contextual factors, in particular that the content was broadcast during an unclassified news programme targeted at adults, we find that the promo did not breach Standard 1.

Did the broadcaster adequately consider children’s interests?

[8]  Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm.

[9]  For the reasons discussed above, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests in screening the promo during One News. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 9.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
20 December 2011


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

1                  Ken Francis’ formal complaint – 29 August 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 14 September 2011

3                 Mr Francis’ referral to the Authority – 23 September 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 21 October 2011