BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Hurrell and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2016-094 (8 March 2017)

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
  • Wayne Hurrell
Prime TV


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

Promos for 60 Minutes, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Poldark and 11.22.63 were broadcast on Prime, during an unclassified All Blacks rugby match against Ireland. The Authority did not uphold a complaint alleging that it was inappropriate to broadcast promos for PGR and AO programmes during G-rated host programmes. The Authority noted that the All Blacks match was unclassified, meaning any promos needed to be classified either G or PGR to comply with broadcasting standards. While the promos featured or alluded to adult themes, the depiction of those themes was consistent with the G classification. The promos were unlikely to disturb or offend viewers, including any child viewers who were watching the rugby.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency


[1]  Promos for 60 Minutes, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Poldark and 11.22.63 were broadcast during an unclassified All Blacks rugby match against Ireland. These promos contained a variety of content, summarised below:

  • 60 Minutes: shots of marijuana plants while the presenter asked, ‘Has legalising marijuana in Colorado been a good thing?’
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries: a (closed) coffin falling out of a vehicle, brief comments about burying the wrong person and death, shots of characters looking frightened, a haunted house and an unidentified character holding a length of rope (presumably as a weapon).
  • Poldark: various characters discussing repayment of a debt.
  • 11.22.63: a character saying, ‘I need you to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy’ and shots of a sniper pointing a gun at a vehicle below.

[2]  Wayne Hurrell complained that it was inappropriate to broadcast promos for adult programmes during programmes classified General (G).

[3]  The issue raised in Mr Hurrell’s complaint is whether the broadcast of the promos breached the good taste and decency standard as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The four promos were broadcast on Sunday 6 November 2016 between midday and 2pm on Prime. The members of the Authority have viewed recordings of the broadcasts complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the broadcast of the promos threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  The purpose of the good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is to protect audience members from viewing broadcasts that are likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards. Broadcasters should take effective steps to inform audiences of the nature of the programme, and enable viewers to regulate their own and their children’s viewing behaviour.1

The parties’ submissions

[6]  Mr Hurrell submitted that:

  • Programmes classified Parental Guidance Recommended (PGR) or Adults Only (AO) should not be promoted during G programmes or earlier in the day than the time of broadcast of the programme being promoted.
  • G programmes are for family audiences and should not be allowed to feature promos that target a more mature or adult audience.
  • The promos all contained adult content and themes.
  • ‘Children are very impressionable and should not have inappropriate content placed in front of them’, and their interests should be put first.

[7]  SKY submitted that:

  • The promos were carefully produced to ensure the content was suitable for a G classification.
  • The target audience for the programmes promoted is a mature one, and filtering technology could prevent younger viewers from being able to access the full programmes.

Our analysis

[8]  When we consider a complaint under the good taste and decency standard, we take into account relevant contextual factors, which here include:

  • the promos’ G classification
  • the time of broadcast between midday and 2pm on a weekend
  • the screening of the promos during an unclassified All Blacks rugby match
  • the target and likely audience of the host programme, which was likely to include families and younger viewers
  • the absence of explicit adult content featured in the promos.

[9]  We understand Mr Hurrell’s primary concern to be the promotion of PGR or AO programmes during G programmes, or before the time of broadcast of the programme being promoted. A programme’s classification is an important factor in our consideration of the good taste and decency standard, as classifications are one of the primary ways in which broadcasters inform viewers about the programmes they are watching, and enable them to make informed viewing choices.

[10]  The programme information standard (Standard 2) in the Free-to-Air Television Code explicitly recognises that broadcasters are permitted to broadcast promos for PGR or AO programmes outside of the designated PGR and AO timebands, so long as any promo complies with the classification of the programme during which it screens (the ‘host programme’).2

[11]  In the case of unclassified host programmes broadcast in G or PGR time, promos must be classified G or PGR and broadcasters should consider children’s interests (Standard 3).3 Sports programmes, including All Blacks matches, are not required to be classified,4 meaning the promos subject to complaint needed to comply with either the G or PGR classification. The question for us is whether any of the promos contained material which warranted a higher classification of AO.

[12]  The G and PGR classifications are defined as follows:

G – General
Programmes which exclude material likely to be unsuitable for children. Programmes may not necessarily be designed for child viewers but should not contain material likely to alarm or distress them.
G programmes may be screened at any time.

PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended
Programmes contain material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or adult.
PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and 7pm until 6am.

[13]  We have viewed all four promos, and we are satisfied that their content was acceptable to screen in the context of this sports broadcast, and did not go beyond what is expected of G or PGR programmes. While we acknowledge the promos featured or alluded to adult themes (for example, a discussion about marijuana legalisation, or reference to fictional murder mysteries), the depiction of these themes was not AO in nature. No violence, offensive language, sexual references or other material was shown that was likely to disturb or offend viewers, including any children who may have been watching the All Blacks rugby match.

[14]  For these reasons, we are satisfied that the promos did not threaten standards of good taste and decency and we do not uphold the complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
8 March 2017



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

1      Wayne Hurrell’s formal complaint – date unknown
2      SKY’s response to the complaint – 15 December 2016
3      Mr Hurrell’s referral to the Authority – 15 December 2016
4      SKY’s response to the Authority – 11 and 24 January 2017


1 Guideline 1b to Standard 1.
2 Guideline 2e to Standard 2 (Programme Information)
3 As above.
4 Guideline 2c to Standard 2 (Programme Information)