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Hamilton and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-085

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • David Hamilton
Number
2011-085
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Packed to the Rafters – woman briefly put her hand down the front of her boyfriend’s pants, who jumped and exclaimed “You’ve got chilli on your hands!” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests standards

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – scene was fleeting and playful – intended to be humorous rather than sexual – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – content was not unsuitable for supervised child viewers – promo correctly rated PGR and screened during Coronation Street – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – promo did not contain AO material and would not have disturbed or alarmed child viewers – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Broadcast

[1]  A promo for Packed to the Rafters was broadcast on TV One at approximately 8.20pm on 26 April 2011, during Coronation Street which was rated PGR. In the promo, a man was shown cooking for his girlfriend. A voiceover stated, “He might not be a master chef, but things are certainly heating up in this kitchen.” The girlfriend was briefly shown putting her hand down the front of the man’s pants, before the shot cut to his reaction as he jumped and exclaimed, “You’ve got chilli on your hands!”

Complaint

[2]  David Hamilton made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that “showing a woman putting her hand down a man’s pants and ‘groping’ him” was inappropriate for broadcast before 8.30pm during school holidays, without warning. He considered it to be irresponsible and in poor taste to screen the promo at that time of the evening, in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests.

Standards

[3]  Mr Hamilton nominated Standards 1, 8 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. Guidelines 1a, 8b and 9a are also relevant. These provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

Guideline 1a

Broadcasters will take into account current norms of good taste and decency bearing in mind the context in which any content occurs and the wider context of the broadcast e.g. programme classification, target audience, type of programme and use of warnings etc.

Standard 8 Responsible Programming

Broadcasters should ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible.

Guideline 8b

8b   All promos (including promos for news and current affairs) should be classified to comply with the “host programme” (the programme in which they screen).

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.

Guideline 9a

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 8.30pm – and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[4]  TVNZ contended that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable in the context in which it was shown, including the programme’s classification, time of broadcast, target audience and the use of warnings. The broadcaster asserted that the primary objective of Standard 1 was not to prevent the broadcast of sexual material, nudity, violence or coarse language in all circumstances. It said that in accordance with section 14 of the Bill of Rights Act 1989, viewers had the right to receive information and view programmes that were entertaining, and broadcasters had the right to broadcast such material. TVNZ argued that the “Authority must show real restraint in upholding complaints” under Standard 1.

[5]  The broadcaster noted that on this occasion, the promo screened during Coronation Street which was rated PGR, and which sometimes contained low level sexual material, which is expected by its audience. It considered that in this context the material in the promo was consistent with those expectations. TVNZ also noted that under Standard 8 it was entitled to screen promos for AO programmes so long as the content complied with the rating of the host programme (guideline 8b). It maintained that the content subject to complaint, namely, brief footage of the woman beginning to put her hands down the man’s trousers, was part of a humorous scene that was intended to comedic, rather than sexual.

[6]  For these reasons, TVNZ concluded that the promo would not have offended a significant number of viewers in the context it was shown, and it declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

[7]  Turning to Standard 8, TVNZ maintained that the promo was correctly rated PGR and screened in an appropriate host programme. It reiterated its view that Coronation Street on occasion contained low level sexual material, which it considered to be consistent with its PGR rating. The scene subject to complaint was brief and intended to be humorous, it argued, and was consistent with viewers’ expectations of the type of material contained in Coronation Street. TVNZ declined to uphold the Standard 8 complaint.

[8]  For the same reasons, TVNZ considered that it had adequately considered children’s interests in screening the promo during Coronation Street, and it declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 9.

Referral to the Authority

[9]  Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Hamilton referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[10]  Mr Hamilton considered TVNZ’s response to be contradictory, because it argued that the promo’s content was “not intended to be sexual”, while also referring to “low level sexual content such as is shown in the... promo”. He strongly disagreed that the promo did not contain sexual connotations, or only contained low level sexual content. He considered that children could have imitated the woman’s actions, and therefore that the promo was clearly unsuitable for PGR time.

[11]  Mr Hamilton accepted that adults could find the content humorous, but maintained that it conveyed a “strong adult theme”. He concluded by saying, “while adults can make discretionary calls about what is humorous or otherwise, children watching such a programme cannot, even with adults trying to provide... guidance”. The complainant maintained that the promo breached Standards 1, 8 and 9.

Authority’s Determination

[12]  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)

[13]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the promo was broadcast at 8.20pm during Coronation Street, which was rated PGR
  • it was broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • Coronation Street’s target audience
  • expectations of regular viewers of Coronation Street
  • Packed to the Rafters was classified PGR and screened at 8.30pm.

[14]  In our view, the scene subject to complaint was relatively brief, playful, and included for comedic effect. We agree with the broadcaster that the emphasis of the scene was its intended humour, rather than any sexual undertones. For these reasons, we are satisfied that the content was consistent with its PGR rating, and that it was not unsuitable for supervised child viewers. We also acknowledge that Coronation Street regularly contains adult themes and material more suited for mature audiences, and that in this context the content of the promo would not have been unexpected or surprising to the programme’s regular viewers.

[15]  Taking into account the above contextual factors, we decline to uphold the complaint that the promo breached Standard 1.

Standard 8 (responsible programming)

[16]  Standard 8 requires that programmes are appropriately classified and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code. Guideline 8b states that promos should be classified to comply with the “host programme” in which they screen.

[17]  On this occasion, the promo was broadcast at 8.20pm during Coronation Street, which was rated PGR. The episode of Packed to the Rafters being promoted was also rated PGR. The PGR classification is defined as follows in Appendix 1 to the Code:

PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended

Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult.

[18]  As outlined above, we consider that the content of the promo was fleeting and relatively mild, and that it was intended to be humorous rather than sexual. In our view, the promo was not unsuitable for supervised child viewers, and it did not contain any material which warranted a higher classification of Adults Only, or a later time of broadcast. We are satisfied that the content of the promo was consistent with its PGR rating and the expectations of regular viewers of Coronation Street, which regularly contains material targeted at a mature audience.  

[19]  Accordingly, we find that the promo was correctly rated PGR and screened during an appropriate host programme. We therefore decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[20]  Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. Guideline 9a states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during those times, and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[21]  For the reasons discussed above under Standards 1 and 8, we do not consider that the promo contained material which would have disturbed or alarmed child viewers, or which was unsuitable for broadcast before the AO watershed at 8.30pm. We are therefore satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests in screening the promo at 8.20pm during Coronation Street.

[22]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
13 September 2011

Appendix

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

1                  David Hamilton’s formal complaint – 26 April 2011

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 23 May 2011

3                 Mr Hamilton’s referral to the Authority – 24 June 2011

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 8 August 2011