BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Garland and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2007-047

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Mike Garland
Number
2007-047
Programme
Close Up
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Close Up – interviewee compared playing old songs to having sex and an orgasm – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and children’s interests standards.

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – comparison was delivered in a straightforward and low-key manner – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – item was mild and light-hearted in nature – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on Close Up, broadcast on TV One at 7pm on 5 April 2007, showed an interview with Ray Manzarek, a former member of the rock group “The Doors”.

[2]   Towards the end of the interview, Mr Manzarek was asked if he ever got tired of playing the same songs. Mr Manzarek replied:

Are you sick and tired of having sex? Every orgasm I’ve ever had has been exactly the same – shiver, shiver, shiver, ok big deal, God almighty…playing Light My Fire is like having sex, I love to play it, I’m not tired of having sex and I’m not tired of playing Light My Fire, I love to play it.

Complaint

[3]   Mike Garland complained to Television New Zealand, the broadcaster, that the programme breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency) and Standard 9 (children’s interests). He believed that the interview was only suitable for a mature audience and that it was totally inappropriate to air the interview during the prime time slot. He went on to say that Mr Manzarek’s “brief but graphic metaphor” comparing orgasms to playing his old songs breached the standards of good taste and decency, and was not suitable content for children.  

Standards

[4]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 and Standard 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provide:

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.

Guideline1a

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 use of the programme’s classification. These examples are not exhaustive.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

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

Guideline 9a

Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 830pm – and avoid screening material which would disturb or alarm them. 

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   TVNZ stated that Close Up was directed at mature audiences and it added that “because of the nature of news and current affairs it is to be expected that most young children would be watching in the company of parents or adults”, and “Close Up was unlikely to be the viewing choice of all but the most mature of unattended children”. It maintained that although it was screened before 8.30pm, it was not aimed at children.

[6]   TVNZ added that news and current affairs programmes like Close Up were not classified like other television programmes, because they necessarily and regularly showed material which was inherently distressing or disturbing.

[7]   TVNZ did not believe that the interview should have been preceded by a warning, as the words orgasm or sex were not indecent or dirty words and were used in an appropriate context. That context was Mr Manzarek responding to a question and using a figure of speech to indicate that, like sex, the pleasure of playing a favourite song did not diminish with the frequency of the experience.

[8]   The broadcaster contended that school children learnt what the words sex and orgasm meant through sex education at school and that it was part of the modern school curriculum.

[9]   TVNZ maintained that the interview was harmless, inoffensive and would have been of great interest to many viewers. It concluded that Standard 1 had not been breached.

[10]   With regard to the complaint under Standard 9, TVNZ reiterated its view that older children would be familiar with the words sex and orgasm. For younger children the words would be meaningless, and therefore would have caused no harm. TVNZ found that there had been no breach of Standard 9.

Referral to the Authority

[11]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Garland referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[12]   Mr Garland maintained that younger children would have been watching the programme because it was the choice of their parents at this time. He went on to reiterate that he had no problem with the statements expressed by Mr Manzarek, but he felt that the interview was inappropriate for broadcast before 8:30pm.

[13]   The complainant agreed that children were educated about sex at school, but thought this was not a good comparison and pointed out that parents were consulted by teachers prior to their children being taught about sex at school.

[14]   Mr Garland said the key issue for him was whether the terms used in the interview were appropriate for the potential viewing audience, at that time.

[15]   In terms of Standard 9, he thought TVNZ’s comment that, most children were familiar with the words sex and orgasm was an “outrageous generalisation” and was not backed up by any research. Further, he stated that TVNZ’s claim that there was no harm to young children because they would have found the words meaningless was “bizarre”.

Authority's Determination

[16]   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 determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[17]   When the Authority determines a complaint alleging a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into account the context in which the programme was broadcast. On this occasion the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the item was broadcast at 7pm during the PGR time-band
  • the programme had an adult target audience
  • news and current affairs programmes are unclassified.

[18]   In the Authority’s view, although Mr Manzarek referred to sex and orgasm to illustrate his point, his description was delivered in a straightforward and low-key manner and it was not calculated to offend viewers. Taking the above contextual factors into account, the Authority declines to uphold the good taste and decency aspect of the complaint.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[19]   The Authority notes that the item was broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times and that the broadcaster was therefore required to consider the interests of child viewers. However, the item had an adult target audience and it is the Authority’s view that children are not inclined to watch news and current affairs unattended.

[20]   Taking the above contextual factors into account, the Authority concludes that TVNZ adequately considered the interests of child viewers on this occasion. Accordingly, it finds that the item did not breach Standard 9.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
14 August 2007

Appendix

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

1             Michael Garland’s formal complaint – 10 April 2007
2            TVNZ’s Decision on the formal complaint – 8 May 2007
3            Mr Garland’s referral to the Authority – 21 May 2007
4            Mr Garland’s further submission – 28 May 2007
5            TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 5 June 2007