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Kake and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2010-022

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Tapu Misa
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Adam Kake
Number
2010-022
Programme
Our Land
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Our Land – included footage of a disagreement between two men after one had hit the other’s child for being naughty – the men and their families shown discussing the incident – both men shown re-enacting how the child was hit – allegedly in breach of the law and order standard

Findings
Standard 2 (law and order) – violent behaviour portrayed as unacceptable and anti-social – broadcast did not encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, condone or glamorise criminal activity – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An episode of Our Land was broadcast on TV One at 7.30pm on Sunday 3 January 2010. The programme followed three families trying to live the lives of Māori and European settlers in the 1800s. The programme included the Dalrymples, a non-Te Reo speaking family from Gisborne, who joined the Ririnuis, who exclusively spoke Te Reo, on the Pa.

[2]   During the episode, the Dalrymples left the Pa after Mr Ririnui discovered that Mr Dalrymple had hit one of his children.

[3]   After the incident, Mr Ririnui explained what had triggered the disagreement. He stated that he had seen his son crying and been told that Mr Dalrymple had “smacked him”. Using his younger son, Mr Ririnui gently re-enacted the smack, which was a light slap on the back of the boy’s head.

[4]   Mr Dalrymple was shown explaining what had happened from his point of view. He said that he had asked the boys to move some firewood and that the biggest of Mr Ririnui’s young boys had picked up a small piece and when told to hand the small piece to one of his little brothers he refused. Mr Dalrymple re-enacted how he had smacked the child by gently slapping the back of his wife’s head.

Complaint

[5]   Adam Kake made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the programme breached broadcasting standards.

[6]   Referring to guideline 2a to Standard 2 (law and order), the complainant said that Mr Dalrymple had committed a criminal offence by assaulting the child of another family. He considered that, “Caution to [Mr Dalrymple] and notification to the public watching should have been exercised to prevent further crime of this nature” taking place through imitation.

[7]   Mr Kake contended that Mr Dalrymple “clearly showed his striking technique using his wife as a prop”, which could give the impression that this form of violence was acceptable.

[8]   Referring to guideline 9d to the children’s interests standard, the complainant argued that the child concerned had been “humiliated and badly treated”. He also contended that a “caution” should have been placed after the programme to “inform the public watching against child abuse”.

Standards

[9]   Standard 2 and guideline 2a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. They provide:

Standard 2 Law and Order

Broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order.

Guideline 2a

Caution should be exercised in broadcasting items which explain the techniques of crime in a manner which invites imitation.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[10]   Referring to the Authority’s practice note on Standard 2 (law and order), TVNZ argued that for a breach to occur, a broadcast not only had to condemn a particular law, but also actively promote disrespect for it.

[11]   The broadcaster contended that One Land had not glamorised crime or condoned the actions of criminals in the ways alleged by the complainant. It argued that the behaviour discussed in the programme was portrayed for what it was, and that it was not condoned by the child’s parents.

[12]   With respect to the footage of Mr Dalrymple re-enacting how he struck the child, the broadcaster said that, “depiction or discussion of criminal behaviour is usually acceptable”, but that the exceptions tended to be if a “broadcast explicitly instructs how to imitate an unusual criminal technique, or suicide, or glamorises the criminal activity”.

[13]   TVNZ pointed out that no footage of the child being hit was contained in the programme. It considered that the incident was dealt with in a matter-of-fact manner and that the programme had not breached Standard 2.

[14]   Turning to Standard 9 (children’s interests), the broadcaster again noted that neither instance of violence had been shown. It noted that Mr Ririnui had explained his feelings about the incident and his regret that he had laid his hands on Mr Dalrymple.

[15]   TVNZ argued that child viewers were protected as the footage of the incident was not shown. It also contended that it was “clear that the child involved in the incident was protected by both his parents in this regard”.

Referral to the Authority

[16]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Kake referred the law and order aspect of his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[17]   The complainant stated that, while he accepted TVNZ’s decision on children’s interests, he maintained that Mr Dalrymple was shown explaining a technique of a crime that invited imitation in breach of Standard 2.

Authority's Determination

[18]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[19]   The Authority has previously stated (for example, Hunt and Māori TV1) that the intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.

[20]   In our view, instead of promoting Mr Dalrymple’s actions and the subsequent actions of Mr Ririnui, the programme clearly portrayed each man’s behaviour as unacceptable.

[21]   We find that the item did not trivialise violence and its consequences. While each man was briefly shown re-enacting what kind of light slap Mr Ririnui’s boy received from Mr Dalrymple, we note the actual slap was not shown to viewers. In our view, the incident was covered in a sensitive and matter-of-fact manner.

[22]   In the context of the programme’s portrayal of the Mr Dalrymple’s actions as anti-social and unacceptable, we consider that the re-enactments were used as an explanatory tool and that their inclusion neither encouraged nor invited viewers to act in a similar manner. We point out that the reference in guideline 2a for caution to be exercised when “techniques of a crime” are shown, relate to more sophisticated actions than lightly slapping the back of a person’s head.

[23]   We conclude that the broadcast did not encourage viewers to break the law or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the programme breached Standard 2.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
1 June 2010

Appendix

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

1.           Adam Kake’s formal complaint – 4 January 2010

2.          TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 15 February 2010

3.          Mr Kake’s referral to the Authority – 16 February 2010

4.          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 13 April 2010


1Decision No. 2009-010