BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Hadfield and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2005-065

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Elaine Hadfield
Number
2005-065
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Four promos broadcast prior to 8.30pm – three for programme Bad Girls – one for quiz show How Normal Are You? – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, programme classification, children’s interests and violence

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 7 (programme classification) – Bad Girls – material suitable to be rated PGR – not upheld – How Normal Are You? – material suitable to be rated G – not upheld by majority

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – Bad Girls – material appropriate to be rated PGR – not upheld – How Normal Are You? – material would not have disturbed or alarmed children – not upheld by majority

Standard 10 (violence) – any violence implied and not explicit – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] TV One screened the following four promos over a period of two weeks. They were

  • A promo for Bad Girls, broadcast on 18 April 2005 at 7.24pm (during Close Up)
  • A promo for Bad Girls, broadcast on 27 April 2005 at 7.43pm (during Fair Go)
  • A promo for Bad Girls, broadcast on 2 May 2005 at 7.23pm (during Close Up)
  • A promo for How Normal Are You?, broadcast on 3 May 2005 at 6.52pm (during One News).

[2] Bad Girls is a drama about the life of female prison inmates. How Normal Are You? is a light-hearted quiz show which aims to find the male and female who best represent “normal” out of a sample of 600 New Zealanders.

[3] The first Bad Girls promo depicted an implied kiss between two female characters. It also showed one female character shouting and kicking a door, where it appeared she had been locked in.  

[4] The second Bad Girls promo showed arguing and kissing between two female characters.

[5] The third Bad Girls promo showed an argument between two female characters, with one grabbing the other’s face and telling her to “shut it”.

[6] The How Normal Are You? promo covered the topic “Are you normal when it comes to sex?” The host of the show asked a celebrity guest if she had ever dressed up for sex. The guest said that she had a dress-up box with bunny suits and police officer outfits. The host countered with the remark “I thought it was normal to undress for sex”.

Complaint

[7] Elaine Hadfield complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the promos depicted anger in the voices and in the body language. She also considered that they depicted violence, offensive words, and sexual content.

[8] She argued that the Bad Girls promos were totally unsuitable for family viewing. She was also of the view that the discussion of sexual behaviour in the promo for How Normal Are You? was “totally disgusting” especially during family viewing time. 

Standards

[9] TVNZ assessed the complaints under Standards 4, 5, 6 and 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.

Guideline 1a

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 programme’s classification. The examples are not exhaustive.

Standard 7 Programme Classification

Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified and adequately display programme classification information, and that timebands are adhered to.

Guideline 7b

Broadcasters should ensure that all promos (including promos for news and current affairs) comply in content with the classification band in which they are shown. For example, promos for AO programmes shown outside Adults Only time must conform in content with the classification of the timeband in which they are broadcast.

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.

Standard 10 Violence

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[10] In its response to the complaint, TVNZ maintained that none of the promos included material that was Adults Only (AO) in nature.

[11] TVNZ noted that none of the promos appeared during programmes specifically targeted at children, or programmes that were likely to be watched by “all but the most mature of unattended children”. It observed that two of the Bad Girls promos were screened during Close Up, a current affairs programme which “regularly and necessarily deals with subject matter which is inherently … distressing and disturbing”.

[12] It further noted that the third Bad Girls promo was screened during Fair Go, another programme which, it contended, was more likely to appeal to mature audiences. The promo for How Normal Are You? was shown during One News which, as a news and current affairs programme, regularly included images and references “much more disturbing than light-hearted references about dressing up for sex”.

[13] TVNZ observed that in all four cases the promos in question were screened in a non-classified programme. In respect of the Bad Girls promos, the broadcaster noted that as a drama series, conflict was an essential element of the show. It considered that a promo illustrating a soon to be broadcast drama programme must necessarily indicate the nature of the drama to be presented, and the fictional characters being depicted.

Standard 1

[14] Turning to Standard 1, the broadcaster considered that none of the four promos breached good taste and decency requirements. It commented that there was no nudity, no sex, and the language (while sometimes angry) was moderate in content. It observed that the references to sex in the How Normal Are You? promo were light-hearted and not prurient. TVNZ pointed out that sex is not a forbidden topic in the early evening, and that early evening sitcoms like Neighbours and Friends regularly include casual comments and innuendo about sexual matters.

Standard 7

[15] In respect of Standard 7, TVNZ noted that guideline 7b specifically allowed broadcasters to show promos for AO programmes outside AO time, provided they complied in content with classification guidelines for the period in which they were shown. TVNZ considered that the makers of the promos had been careful to exclude AO material from the promos, and had also avoided scheduling the promos during programmes specifically aimed at young children.

Standard 9

[16] The broadcaster did not find a breach of Standard 9. It considered that the material in the trailers posed no risk to children, especially given the context of the news and current affairs programmes in which they were shown. It considered that if children were watching they would almost certainly be in the company of adults. It reiterated the point that the interests of children had been considered by excluding these promos from G-rated programmes aimed specifically at young children.

Standard 10

[17] Neither did TVNZ consider that Standard 10 had been breached. It considered that any violence was implied rather than explicitly shown. It also drew a distinction between conflict, which it stated was found in every work of fiction, and the depiction of violence which was the subject of the standard.

[18] TVNZ referred to previous complaints made by Miss Hadfield (Decision No: 2002-100/101/102/103/104). It noted that those complaints were not upheld, and considered that the comments made by the Authority on that occasion were relevant to the present complaint. It did not uphold Miss Hadfield’s complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[19] In her referral to the Authority, the complainant disagreed with TVNZ that promos did not contain AO material.

Authority's Determination

[20] 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.

Standard 1 (Good taste and decency)

[21] When considering a complaint of good taste and decency, the Authority takes into account relevant contextual factors. The relevant factors for the Bad Girls promos were the time of broadcast (after 7pm), the mature target audience of the host programmes (Fair Go and Close Up), and the minor level of violence shown, in that any violence was implied rather than explicit.

[22] The Authority considers that the promos for Bad Girls were not outside the accepted norms of good taste and decency.

[23] The Authority considers that the How Normal Are You? promo was simply a light hearted reference to dressing up for sex. No salacious language was used and the discussion was not explicit. Furthermore, even though the underlying timeband was G, One News is primarily targeted at an adult audience. For these reasons, the Standard 1 complaint is not upheld.  

Standard 7 (Programme Classification)

[24] The Authority notes that the broadcaster did not state the classification of the promos, except to note that no AO material was included.

[25] In the matter of the three Bad Girls promos, the Authority is satisfied that the promos were appropriate for the PGR timeband. No breach of the standard occurred.

[26] In respect of the How Normal Are You? promo, a majority of the Authority considers that while the sexual references included within the promo were borderline PGR content, the promo could be appropriately G-rated and thus no breach occurred. In reaching this decision, the Authority noted that the promo included references to sex in a light hearted and non salacious manner. It focussed more on the dressing-up aspect, rather than on explicit sexual detail.

[27] A minority of the Authority (Tapu Misa) upholds the Standard 7 complaint in respect of the How Normal Are You? promo. She considers that the direct references to sexual activity were unsuitable for the underlying G timeband. She finds that the promo was more appropriately classified PGR. Accordingly, by broadcasting the promo before 7pm, the broadcaster failed to adhere to the underlying G timeband.1

Standard 9 (Children’s Interests)

[28] The Authority has already concluded that the Bad Girls promos were appropriate for the PGR timeband. Accordingly, the Authority finds that the broadcaster sufficiently considered the interests of child viewers by showing PGR material during a PGR timeband. No breach occurred in respect of these three promos.

[29] The Authority notes that the How Normal Are You? promo was broadcast at 6.52pm, during the One News hour. Under the rules existing at the time of the broadcast, the time slot prior to 7pm has an underlying G timeband, despite the fact that One News itself is unclassified.

[30] A majority of the Authority is of the view that although the content in the How Normal Are You? promo contained sexual references, many younger viewers would not have understood these references. 

[30] It also reiterates the contextual factors referred to above – the reference was of a mild and joking nature, it was not explicit, and the host programme was targeted primarily at an adult audience. The majority of the Authority considers that the promo would not have disturbed or alarmed child viewers.

[31] A minority of the Authority (Tapu Misa) upholds the Standard 9 complaint. She considers that the How Normal Are You? promo contained PGR material, for the reasons outlined in paragraph [27]. She considers that by broadcasting the promo before 7pm, the broadcaster failed to consider the interests of child viewers.  

Standard 10 (Violence)

[32] The Authority notes that Bad Girls is a programme that portrays the often violent nature of life in prison. It would be unusual for a promo for the programme not to refer to this aspect of the drama at some stage.

[33] The Authority considers that the broadcaster exercised sufficient care and discretion in the preparation and presentation of the promos complained of. It notes that any violence included in the promos was implied rather than explicit. Accordingly the Standard 10 complaint is not upheld.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
18 August 2005

Appendix

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

  1. Elaine Hadfield’s formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 9 May 2005
  2. TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 24 May 2005
  3. Miss Hadfield’s referral to the Authority – 20 June 2005
  4. TVNZ’s response to the referral – 27 June 2005

1The Authority observes that the promos were broadcast prior to 1 July 2005. This programme classification complaint is determined under Standard 7 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which was subsequently amended as of 1 July 2005.