BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Harang and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2003-033

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • J H McGregor
  • Tapu Misa
  • R Bryant
Dated
Complainant
  • Kristian Harang
Number
2003-033
Programme
Hot Property
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint
Hot Property amateur male strip to raise money for club house – 5.30pm – offensive – unsuitable for children

Findings
Standard 1 and Guideline 1a – context – no uphold

Standard 9 – not likely to upset or disturb children – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision


Summary

[1] Hot Property is an Australian series about real estate sales. A sequence in which members of a men’s soccer club performed an amateur striptease to raise money for a clubhouse was included in the episode broadcast on TV One at about 5.30pm on 31 December 2002.

[2] Kristian Harang complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that it was offensive to screen a male strip sequence at 5.50pm, in which naked backsides were shown clearly, without a warning.

[3] In response, TVNZ maintained that the item included a very amateur and innocent performance by members of a soccer club in an effort to raise money. It said that it did not breach the standard requiring good taste and decency, and would not cause harm to children. TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint.

[4] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response Mr Harang referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

[5] The members of the Authority have viewed a video of the programme complained about and have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The Programme

[6] Hot Property is an Australian reality television series about real estate sales. A sequence in which members of a men’s soccer club performed an amateur striptease to raise money was included in the episode broadcast on TV One at about 5.30pm on 31 December 2002.

The Complaint

[7] Focusing on the time of the screening, 5.30pm, Kristian Harang complained to TVNZ that the programme, which showed naked backsides, was offensive. He argued that it should have been screened after 9.00pm or have included a warning.

The Standards

[8] In view of the matters raised by Mr Harang, TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Standards, and relevant Guidelines, read:

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 (see Appendix 1). The examples are not exhaustive.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[9] TVNZ noted that the striptease ended with the men wearing G-strings which covered their genitalia. It pointed out that the performance was a "very amateur" one in which the club members, while fundraising, indulged in some "innocent fun in front of a good-natured group of people". The performance, TVNZ contended, deserved neither an AO classification, nor justified a warning.

[10] On the basis that naked, or near naked backsides, featured reasonably regularly elsewhere in the print media without causing offence, TVNZ argued that the sequence did not stray beyond the accepted boundaries of good taste and decency. Further, as the performance was "innocent fun", it said that it would not cause harm to children. It declined to uphold the complaint.

The Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

[11] Mr Harang reiterated his concerns that the material was unsuitable for screening in a programme starting at 5.30pm in the late afternoon.

The Authority’s Determination

[12] When it determines a complaint that a broadcast contravenes the requirement for good taste and decency in Standard 1 of the Television Code, the Authority is required to determine whether the material complained about breaches currently accepted standards, taking into account the context of the broadcast. The context is relevant, but does not determine whether the programme breached the standard. Accordingly, the Authority has considered the aspects of context in relation to the item complained about.

[13] The Authority considers that the light-hearted nature of the amateur performance in which some men stripped to G-strings was of particular relevance. No genitalia were seen. In the Authority’s opinion, the performance was likely to inspire good-natured ridicule, as was apparent among the audience at the performance, rather than any degree of titillation. In view of these contextual matters, the Authority does not uphold the good taste and decency aspect of the complaint.

[14] The Authority accepts that the item was screened during children’s normally accepted viewing times. Taking into account the matters noted in the previous paragraph, the Authority is of the view that the item would not be alarming or distressing for children. Moreover, advance notice of the item was given on a number of occasions which would have allowed a concerned care-giver to switch-off or change channels. The Authority declines to uphold the Standard 9 aspect relating to the protection of children.

[15] The Authority observes that to find a breach of broadcasting standards on this occasion would be to apply the Broadcasting Act 1989 in such a way as to limit freedom of expression in a manner which is not reasonable or demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society (s.5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990). As required by s.6 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the Authority adopts an interpretation of the relevant standards which it considers is consistent with and gives full weight to the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
15 April 2003

Appendix

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

  1. Kristian Harang’s Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 31 December 2002
  2. TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 10 February 2003
  3. Mr Harang’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 11 February 2003
  4. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 19 February 2003