BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Goodchild and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2018-067 (10 October 2018)

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Paula Rose
  • Wendy Palmer
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
Dated
Complainant
  • Karl Goodchild
Number
2018-067
Programme
Shimmer and Shine
Channel/Station
Nick Jr.

Summary

[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that an episode of children’s cartoon Shimmer and Shine breached broadcasting standards by promoting gambling to children. The episode focused on the main character’s quest to win tickets in an arcade with the help of her genies so she could get the prize she wanted. The Authority acknowledged there are similarities between arcade games and casinos and acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about the episode in this respect. However the young target audience were unlikely to make that connection, reducing the likelihood of real harm being caused by the programme. The Authority therefore found any restriction on the right to freedom of expression would be unjustified.

Not Upheld: Children’s Interests, Fairness 

The broadcast

[1]  In an episode of the children’s cartoon Shimmer and Shine, the main character Lea tried to win tickets by playing games with tokens at the ’Pirate Palace Arcade’, to get the prize she wanted. At the beginning of the episode one of the machines ate all of her tickets, so she sought the help of her genies ‘Shimmer’ and ‘Shine’ to recover her tickets. The genies provided her with more tokens so that together they could play the arcade games to win the required number of tickets and in the end Lea was able to claim her desired prize.

[2]  The episode was broadcast on the Nick Jr. channel on SKY, on 12 June 2018.

The complaint

[3]  Karl Goodchild complained that the episode ‘promotes gambling and shows if you lose you should gamble some more to win back what you have lost’. He considered the episode focused on solving problems through gambling and noted some of the arcade machines ‘even sounded like pokie machines’.

[4]  Mr Goodchild submitted the episode breached the children’s interests and fairness standards of the Pay Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

The broadcaster’s response

[5]  Having regard to comments provided by Nick Jr., SKY did not consider the nominated broadcasting standards were breached, for the following reasons:

  • Shimmer and Shine is an American television programme which has aired internationally since 2015. It is aimed at pre-schoolers (2-5 years old). ‘Any children of that age bracket would not in the context make the association of the Pirate Palace Arcade with gambling.’
  •  The programme has a G classification and is suitable for young children.
  • The use of arcade games as depicted in the episode, specifically dedicated to children, is common in New Zealand.
  • The lead character demonstrated resilience and perseverance in seeking to obtain her tickets back to win the prize of her dreams.
  • The complainant did not identify an individual or organisation taking part in or referred to in the broadcast that was treated unfairly.

[6]  In any event, on behalf of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., SKY expressed regret for any unintentional concern caused to Mr Goodchild or his family as a result of the broadcast of the episode, and noted that Nickelodeon takes its responsibilities to children and families very seriously.

The standards

[7]  The children’s interests standard (Standard 3) states that broadcasters should ensure children can be protected from broadcasts which might adversely affect them. Material likely to be considered under this standard includes dangerous, antisocial or illegal behaviour that is outside audience expectations of the programme’s classification.1

[8]  The fairness standard (Standard 11) states that broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme.

Our findings

[9]  When we consider a complaint that a broadcast has breached broadcasting standards, we first look at the right to freedom of expression which is highly valued in New Zealand and enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. We weigh the right to freedom of expression against the level of actual or potential harm that might be caused by the broadcast. This could be harm to an individual, or, as alleged in this case, harm to society or the audience generally.

[10]  We have viewed the content of this programme and considered whether any actual or potential harm was likely to arise from it, in terms of its impact on child viewers. While gambling could be considered ‘antisocial behaviour’ for the purposes of the children’s interests standard (see paragraph [7] above), the question for us is whether the content of this particular episode went beyond audience expectations of the programme and its G classification, such that it raised issues under the children’s interests standard.

[11] Context is highly relevant to our assessment of whether, in broadcasting this programme, the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers and enabled them to be protected from any unsuitable content. In our consideration of this complaint we found the following contextual factors to be relevant:2

  • Shimmer and Shine is a G-rated programme, indicating it is suitable for children to watch unsupervised.
  • Nick Jr. is a channel specifically targeted at young children.
  • There is an audience expectation that Nick Jr. and this particular programme will not contain material unsuitable for young children.
  • The premise of the series Shimmer and Shine is that two female genies, with their pet tiger and pet monkey, assist the main character Lea to navigate and deal with daily issues as they arise. Typically, as with many children’s programmes, there is a moral message at the end of each episode (in this instance, ‘we worked together’ and ‘we fixed our mistakes and the day turned out alright’).

[12]  Having viewed the episode and considered the above context, we do not believe it promoted gambling or that it was likely to adversely affect child viewers.

[13]  We acknowledge the complainant’s concern about the parallels between arcades and casinos. Any adult watching may have made this connection in the episode. However the episode as a whole was very light, colourful and child-friendly in its presentation of the characters and the various themes and storylines, so we find it unlikely that young children would associate this arcade with casinos or gambling. Children’s programmes often allude to adult themes or situations in a way that is appreciated and understood by adults, but not by the children who are the target audience.

[14]  We do not believe the programme was likely to cause harm at a level which justifies restricting the right to freedom of expression and we therefore find no breach of the children’s interests standard.

[15]  The fairness standard applies only to individuals or organisations taking part or referred to in a programme. As this programme was a fictional children’s cartoon the standard does not apply.

 For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

 


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
10 October 2018

 


Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1  Karl Goodchild’s formal complaint – 12 June 2018
2  Mr Goodchild’s referral to the Authority – 28 July 2018
3  TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 7 September 2018
4  Mr Goodchild’s final comments – 10 September 2018


1  Guideline 3b

2  Guideline 3c