BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Gapes and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2004-095

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Nicola and Daniel Gapes
The Goober Brother

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
The Goober Brothers – part of Studio 2 – inventors of “Ja-Handal” – man performing handstands – dog urinated on man’s face – allegedly offensive and not in children’s interests

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – context – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – type of humour depicted appeals to children – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] The Goober Brothers was shown as part of the children’s programme Studio 2. It was a New Zealand-made series of two-minute items featuring mad scientists who come up with weird inventions. The “Ja-Handal”, a jandal for hands, was the invention shown on the episode broadcast on TV2 at 3.20pm on 16 April 2004.

[2] The item showed a man performing handstands on a beach when a dog approached him and apparently urinated on his face.


[3] Nicola and Daniel Gapes complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the episode was offensive and inappropriate for children’s viewing.


[4] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. They read:

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.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5] While accepting that some adults might find the scene distasteful, TVNZ argued that children would react differently. Most primary school children, it wrote, would see the item as an instance of slapstick humour which they enjoyed.

[6] TVNZ said that the series was driven by slapstick humour and The Goober Brothers had received international acclaim. It contended that the item was an example of scatological humour which children would not find offensive.

[7] It declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[8] The Gapes did not accept that visuals of a dog urinating on a man’s face, as opposed to a leg, was acceptable. While they agreed that children might find the scene funny, they argued that it was a parental responsibility to decide what was or was not decent.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[9] TVNZ advised that it had nothing further to add.

Authority's Determination

[10] The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[11] When determining complaints which allege a breach of Standard 1 (good taste and decency), the Authority is required to take into account the context of the broadcast complained about. While context is not determinative, it is relevant to the Authority’s decision.

[12] The contextual matters which the Authority considers are relevant to this complaint are:

  • It was a programme targeted specifically at children
  • it involved slapstick humour where the activity was clearly simulated and unrealistic
  • it included toilet humour of a kind appreciated by children.

[13] In view of these matters, the Authority agrees with the broadcaster as to the impact of the item on children. While the Authority accepts that the item may not appeal to adult viewers, it concludes that the broadcast does not breach standards of good taste and decency.

[14] The Authority also concludes that the broadcaster considered the interests of children in screening the item as required in Standard 9. Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the item did not breach the nominated broadcasting standards.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
12 August 2004


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

  1. Nicola and Daniel Gapes’ Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 19 April 2004
  2. TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 12 May 2004
  3. The Gapes’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 30 May 2004
  4. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 14 June 2004