BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Hooker and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 2001-227

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • B Hayward
  • R Bryant
  • J H McGregor
Dated
Complainant
  • Michael Hooker
Number
2001-227
Channel/Station
TV3

Complaint
Manhattan on the Beach – promo – naked woman’s buttocks – inappropriate in G time slot – broadcaster upheld complaint that promo rated "Hard G" broadcast at inappropriate time – complainant insisted promo should be rated A0

Findings
Promo appropriate classified PGR – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

[1] A promo for Manhattan on the Beach, a programme rated PGR, was broadcast by TV3 between 5.30–6.00pm on 24 July 2001. The promo included a fleeting close-up view of naked buttocks being wiggled at the camera.

[2] Michael Hooker complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the promo should have been classified AO in view of the content.

[3] In response, TV3 said that it had classified the promo "Hard G" and it upheld the complaint that it had failed to abide by the standard relating to the broadcast of a programme at an inappropriate time.

[4] Dissatisfied that TV3 had not accepted that the promo should have been rated AO, Mr Hooker referred his 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 tape of the promo complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The Programme

[6] A promo for the programme Manhattan on the Beach was broadcast on TV3 between 5.30–6.00pm on 24 July 2001. The promo included a brief close-up view of naked buttocks, being wiggled at the camera.

The Complaint

[7] Michael Hooker complained to TV3 that the promo, as it contained AO material, breached the standards as it was broadcast during the G time slot.

The Standards

[8] TV3 assessed the complaint against the standard nominated by the complainant. Standard G22 reads:

G22  Promotions (promos) for AO programmes may be screened during PGR or G time bands provided the promo is made in such a way that it can be classified as PGR or G, as appropriate. Promotions which carry an AO classification may only be screened within AO time bands.

[9] It also considered the complaint under standard G8 which requires broadcasters, in the preparation and presentation of programmes:

G8  To abide by the classification codes and their appropriate time bands as outlined in the agreed criteria for programme classifications.

The Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[10] TV3 explained that Manhattan on the Beach, from which the material was taken for the promo, was rated PGR, not AO. As a result, it wrote, standard G22 did not apply.

[11] Nevertheless, TV3 continued, it had addressed the complainant’s concerns by reviewing the complaint under standard G8. It reported:

The promo was given a "Hard G" rating by the TV3 Promotions department. This rating means it is suitable to be scheduled in G time but not within programmes aimed at children.

However, the Committee considers that, while the vision of the bottom is relatively brief and the tone of the rest of the material included is mild, the promo should have been rated "PGR" (to play only in PGR rated programmes), and accordingly was in breach of standard G8.

[12] TV3 advised that the following action had been taken:

Having upheld your complaint the Committee would like you to know that this error in rating the promo occurred during a transition time within the Promos department and the person who rated the promo is no longer involved in that capacity. A copy of your complaint and this decision has been given to the head of the Promotions department for action to prevent any further instances of this type of error occurring.

[13] TV3 concluded by apologising for any offence caused by the misjudgment.

The Complainant’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

[14] When he referred his complaint to the Authority, Mr Hooker disputed TV3’s ruling that the promo was PGR. Referring to Decision No: 1995-022 when the Authority had described a black and white still photograph of a naked man as borderline between PGR and AO, Mr Hooker argued that the image of a woman "wiggling her buttocks at the camera in a sexually provocative fashion" required an AO rating.

[15] Mr Hooker also asked that his complaint be considered under standards G8, G12, G22 and G24.

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[16] TV3 pointed out that the footage was of a man’s buttocks and it did not accept that it was salacious. The programme, it wrote, dealt with "larrikin-type behaviour" likely to be found "at the end of the Hamptons" and the promo contained nothing which could be considered sexually provocative.

The Complainant’s Final Comment

[17] Mr Hooker continued to argue that the promo was salacious and sexually provocative, and that AO material in the G time band was always harmful to children.

The Authority's Determination

[18] Mr Hooker has disputed the broadcaster’s classification of the promo. Rated PGR by the broadcaster, Mr Hooker considers that it merits an AO classification, and he alleged a breach of standard G8.

[19] When he referred his complaint to the Authority Mr Hooker asked the Authority to assess his complaint under a number of standards not previously considered by the broadcaster.

[20] The Authority’s role is to investigate and review the broadcaster’s decision, rather than to consider the complaint anew. Nevertheless, it may consider a complaint under standards not already taken into account by the broadcaster provided it is apparent that they were concerns held by the complainant at the time of the original letter of complaint.

[21] On this occasion, Mr Hooker nominated explicitly the standards under which he wanted TV3 to assess his complaint. The additional standards raised in the letter of referral raise new issues which the Authority does not accept were part of the original complaint.

[22] Thus, the Authority’s task on this occasion is to decide whether the promo for Manhattan on the Beach was correctly rated PGR. Having viewed the promo, the Authority agrees that TV3’s classification of PGR was appropriate.

[23] Finally, the Authority observes that to find a breach of the standards would be to interpret the Broadcasting Act 1989 in such a way as to place too great a limit on the broadcaster's statutory freedom of expression in s.14 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990. It prefers to adopt an interpretation of the standards which is consistent with the Bill of Rights.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
17 December 2001

Appendix

 

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

1. Michael Hooker's Complaint to TV3 Network Services Ltd – 10 August 2001
2. TV3's Response to the Formal Complaint – 6 September 2001
3. Mr Hooker's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 15 September 2001
4. TV3's Response to the Authority – 11 October 2001
5. Mr Hooker’s Final Comment – 22 October 2001