BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Gray and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-137

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Matthew Gray


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

A promo for Embarrassing Bodies Downunder broadcast at 7.15pm during Shortland Street contained a brief reference to the effect of pineapple on the taste of semen. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the sexual references in the promo were inappropriate for broadcast in this timeslot. The reference to oral sex was inexplicit, would not likely have been understood by most younger viewers and did not exceed expectations of the regular audience of the host programme, which frequently contains mature themes.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children's Interests


[1]  A promo for Embarrassing Bodies Downunder contained a brief reference to the effect of pineapple on the taste of semen as follows:

Presenter: What might pineapple do to something in your body?
Woman: Change the taste of your semen...?
Presenter: Have you given it a crack?
Man: Yes, I have.

[2]  Matthew Gray complained that the promo was inappropriate for the time of broadcast and would have disturbed children.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency and children's interests standards, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The promo was broadcast at 7.15pm on TV2 on 30 September 2014, during Shortland Street which was rated PGR. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the promo complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the promo breach broadcasting standards?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The children's interests standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. The purpose of the standard is to protect children from broadcasts which might adversely affect them.2

[6]  Mr Gray argued that the reference to the consumption of semen before 8.30pm was not appropriate given that his children, aged 13 and 14, and other younger children, were watching. He was concerned that due to it being a promo, it was broadcast without a warning, leaving no opportunity to change the channel. While he acknowledged that Shortland Street has sexual themes, he said that 'a degree of subtlety is usually applied' and that he was unaware of 'there ever having been blatant reference to the consumption of semen within the show to date'. He considered children would have been disturbed because a young woman talking about the taste of semen 'leaves little to the imagination', even if there was no specific mention of oral sex.

[7]  TVNZ argued there is an expectation that children watching programmes rated PGR, like Shortland Street, do so under the guidance of an adult. None of the discussion in the promo was particularly graphic or detailed, it said, and it was consistent with Shortland Street's themes and PGR rating. It did not agree that the promo would have disturbed or alarmed a significant number of people, including children.

[8]  We recognise that broadcasters sometimes push the boundaries in promos to 'hook' the audience and encourage viewers to watch the full programme. Broadcasters are entitled to promote programmes in the way they wish, so long as standards are adhered to, and in the case of promos, so long as the content is consistent with the timeslot and classification of the host programme (the programme during which the promo screens).3

[9]  We understand why some viewers, including the complainant, would have taken offence at the content of the promo, and we have carefully considered whether a reference to 'the taste of semen' went a step too far in this case.

[10]  We see this material as being very close to the line. In our view, the material was purposely selected to arouse interest with this particular audience.

[11]  What has saved this broadcast is primarily that children of an age in need of protection would not have understood what was being said. There was no direct reference to oral sex. The mention of 'the taste of semen' was very brief in the context of the promo in its entirety, which covered a number of health issues. We do not think it was sufficiently explicit to warrant an Adults Only classification or a later time of broadcast. The host programme Shortland Street frequently contains mature themes including sexual references, and it is reasonable to expect in a PGR timeslot there may be some material that requires adult supervision and guidance. Additionally, the promo did serve the purpose of promoting an educational show about sexual health, which carried some value.

[12]  For these reasons, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children's interests and took adequate care in classifying and scheduling the promo. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint that the promo breached the good taste and decency and children's interests standards.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Peter Radich
4 March 2015



The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1     Matthew Gray's formal complaint – 30 September 2014
2     TVNZ's response to the complaint – 28 October 2014
3     Mr Gray's referral to the Authority – 1 November 2014
4     TVNZ's response to the Authority – 20 January 2015



Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

E.g. Harrison and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-066

See guideline 8b to the Responsible Programming standard (Standard 8)