BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Harre and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-104

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Jim Harre
Seven Sharp

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

An episode of Seven Sharp included a short round-up of things that had recently ‘caught the attention’ of the presenters, including cheese ‘made of milk with human toe jam and belly button bacteria’. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this was offensive and breached standards of good taste and decency. While some viewers would have found the subject matter unpleasant and distasteful, it did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency to an extent which breached the standard.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


[1]  An episode of Seven Sharp included a short round-up of things that had recently ‘caught the attention’ of the presenters. Commenting on a picture of a round of cheese, one presenter said:

This cheese might look delicious – like a good aged brie perhaps. Wrong. This is where I put out the disclaimer. I did not write this, I’m going to battle to even say it so please put down your dinner right now, because it’s made of milk with human toe jam and belly button bacteria. Apparently it was like this arty thing, a snapshot of a person in food.

[2]  The co-presenter was then shown pretending to clean his own belly button in front of the presenter, who expressed her disgust at his actions. The item screened at 7pm on TV ONE on 9 July 2014.

[3]  Jim Harre complained that the segment was offensive and in the nature of ‘toilet humour’, and was not suitable for broadcast during a programme claiming to be news and current affairs.

[4]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the item threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[6]  The good taste and decency standard is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2

[7]  Mr Harre considered that the item would have disgusted a lot of viewers, as it ‘certainly appeared to offend the presenter’. This was not news and held no other value, he said, so there was no justification for broadcasting it in a news and current affairs slot.

[8]  TVNZ argued that the conversation was brief and intended to be amusing. It said this was typical of Seven Sharp’s‘more conversational approach to current affairs’. It maintained that the item did not go beyond audience expectations of the programme or its PGR timeslot.

[9]  We recognise that some viewers would have found the subject of the item unpleasant and distasteful, and the co-presenter’s actions immature. However we do not think the threshold has been reached where we should intervene.

[10]  The item was brief and related to a recent absurd story, namely, this cheese being presented as an artistic creation. It was referred to at the start of the programme in the context of the presenter outlining what had ‘grabbed our attention today’. The segment was consistent with the kind of quirky topics which often feature on the programme, and the second part involving the presenters was typical of the light-hearted banter and ribbing between them. They made it clear that it was intended to be humorous, and the presenter clearly signposted that it might not appeal to all viewers, especially those watching during dinner, so the content would not have been entirely unexpected.

[11]  For these reasons, we do not think the programme threatened current norms of good taste and decency to an extent which breached the standard, and we decline to uphold the good taste and decency complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

Peter Radich

10 October 2014


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

1            Jim Harre’s formal complaint – 9 July 2014

2            TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 5 August 2014

3            Mr Harre’s referral to the Authority – 18 August 2014

4            TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 3 September 2014

1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112
2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)