BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Henderson and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-096

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Carol Henderson
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Nightline – item about strip club contained brief footage of woman wearing a G-string dancing erotically on a pole – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming standards

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – footage was very brief and had some relevance to the subject matter – programme was broadcast more than two hours after the Adults Only watershed – majority of viewers would not have been offended in this context – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  An item on Nightline followed up an earlier report on a “strip club turf war” in Wellington involving opposition from strip club operators and the police to a new entrant to the city’s entertainment area. There had been a development in the story, with confirmation that the new operator had been granted a liquor licence. The item contained footage of a stripper wearing only a G-string, filmed from behind, as she pole danced erotically. The item was broadcast on TV3 at 10.40pm on 28 June 2012.

[2]  Carol Henderson made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, arguing that, although the item was shown later in the evening, the footage of a stripper was offensive, irresponsible, and denigrating to women.

[3]  Ms Henderson nominated Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 7 (discrimination and denigration) and 8 (responsible programming) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in her complaint. In our view, Standard 1 is the most relevant and we have limited our determination accordingly. In summary, the other standards were not breached because:

  • The item made no reference to women as a section of the community, it did not carry any invective towards women, and the brief footage could not be seen as blackening the reputation of women or encouraging the different treatment of women, to their detriment (Standard 7).
  • Ms Henderson’s concern under Standard 8 was that the item was irresponsible because there is an “epidemic” of porn addiction. Standard 8 is primarily directed at the use of      appropriate classifications and time-bands. Nightline was an unclassified news programme.

[4]  The issue therefore is whether the item, and specifically the footage, breached standards of good taste and decency.

[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 standards of good taste and decency?

[6]  Standard 1 (good taste and decency) is primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain 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]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • the item was broadcast at 10.40pm, more than two hours after the AO watershed
  • it was broadcast as part of an unclassified news programme
  • the programme had an adult target audience
  • audience expectations
  • the item’s subject matter.

[8]  In its decision on the complaint, TVWorks noted that Nightline was unclassified, and that it regularly contained more mature content due to its timeslot. It considered that regular viewers would not have been surprised or offended by the footage, and that the introduction and subject matter signposted the likely content and gave viewers an opportunity to make a different viewing choice.

[9]  We recently considered a complaint about the same footage broadcast during an item on 3 News at 6pm.3 In that case, the broadcaster accepted that standards relating to good taste and decency and children’s interests were breached, due to its early time of broadcast. We declined to uphold the complaint that the action taken by the broadcaster was insufficient. In our decision we said:

In our view, the action taken by the broadcaster in upholding the complaint, apologising to the complainant and counselling its editorial staff to prevent a similar breach of broadcasting standards, was sufficient.

The footage of the stripper pole dancing in a G-string was very brief in the context of the entire news item, and had some relevance to the subject matter of the item, namely, a “strip club turf war”, which was signposted for viewers in the introduction. We are satisfied that the inclusion of the footage in the item was the result of a lapse of judgement, and that the steps taken by TVWorks were proportionate to the nature of the breach.

[10]  Here, the footage was broadcast much later at 10.40pm, well outside children’s viewing times. We disagree with the complainant that the footage was “prolonged” and that the stripper was “naked… with her… breasts in full view”. The footage was brief, lasting only around five seconds in the context of a one-minute item, and the stripper had her back to the camera, so that while her buttocks were visible, there was no frontal nudity of the nature alleged. We stand by our view in Gillingham that the footage had some relevance to the story; we do not agree that footage of a stripper would be totally unexpected in the context of a story about a strip club, especially on the late news. The item’s subject matter gave some indication of the likely content, and given the late time of broadcast and the nature of the footage, we do not consider that any explicit warning was warranted.

[11]  We accept that regular viewers of Nightline – or any late night news programme in fact – would be aware that it might sometimes contain more challenging content than the 6pm news. In the context of an unclassified news programme targeted at adults and broadcast well outside children’s viewing times, we do not consider that most viewers would have been offended.

[12]  We therefore decline to uphold the complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
4 December 2012


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

1           Carol Henderson’s formal complaint – 29 June 2012

2          TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 16 August 2012

3          Ms Henderson’s referral to the Authority – 21 August 2012

4          TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 26 September 2012

1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November, 2006)

 3Gillingham and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2012-053