BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Kendrick and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 2000-122

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
Dated
Complainant
  • Charmaine Kendrick
Number
2000-122
Programme
Ice As
Channel/Station
TV3

Complaint
Ice As – skit about eating St Bernard dogs – offensive behaviour

Findings
Standard G2 – context – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

A skit satirising media comment by the MP for Tauranga, Winston Peters, about an alleged trade in New Zealand bred St Bernard dogs for consumption in Asia, was featured at intervals during an episode of Ice As. The programme was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 20 May 2000.

Charmaine Kendrick complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the skit was "ill informed and in appalling taste". She also considered that the item’s Tauranga focus was offensive, as she was a St Bernard breeder in that area.

TV3 responded that the skit was comedic and satirical, and not intended to encourage eating the dogs, but to highlight what it considered to be the unlikely nature of Mr Peters’ claims. It added that the humour was directed at its audience of 13 to 30 year olds, and that it would have been clear to viewers that the dog in the studio was not hurt during the programme. As for the skit's Tauranga focus, TV3 explained that this related to Mr Peters being from Tauranga, and was "not intended as a slur on Tauranga St Bernard breeders".

Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s decision, Ms Kendrick referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the item complained about and the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. On this occasion, the Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

A skit satirising media comment by the MP for Tauranga, Winston Peters, about an alleged trade in New Zealand bred St Bernard dogs for consumption in Asia, was featured at intervals during an episode of Ice As. The programme was broadcast on TV3 at 7.30pm on 20 May 2000.

Charmaine Kendrick complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the skit was "ill informed and in appalling taste". She also considered that the item’s Tauranga focus was offensive, as she was a St Bernard breeder in that area.

In its response, TV3 said that it had considered the complaint under standard G2 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

G2  To take into consideration currently accepted norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs.

TV3 began its response by noting that Ice As was a well established "youth comedy/entertainment show with a viewing audience of 13 to 30 year olds". It also observed that the programme usually screened at 11.00pm on Saturday nights and was repeated at 9.30pm on Sundays. It explained that the programme Ms Kendrick complained about had screened at an earlier time due to other programming imperatives that night.

TV3 then explained that the skit was comedic and satirical and not intended to encourage eating the dogs, but to highlight what it considered to be the unlikely nature of claims made by Winston Peters about trade in St Bernard dogs sent from New Zealand to Asia for consumption. It added that the humour was directed at its audience of 13 to 30 year olds, and that it would have been clear to viewers that the dog in the studio was not hurt during the programme.

As for the skit’s Tauranga focus, TV3 explained that this related to Mr Peters being from Tauranga, and was "not intended as a slur on Tauranga St Bernard breeders".

In the referral of her complaint to the Authority, Ms Kendrick said she believed that TV3’s response neither explained nor justified what she called the "offensive nature" of the item. She said she supported Winston Peters’ claims, and enclosed some information from an Asian website about breeding St Bernard dogs for eating. She also said she could supply "much evidence of dogs having left New Zealand for the purpose".

The Authority’s Findings

The Authority’s task in assessing this complaint under standard G2 is to determine whether the behaviour complained about breached currently accepted norms, in the context in which they occurred. The programme was broadcast during the PGR time band and was classified PGR. The Authority accepts that Ice As is a programme which its target teenage audience finds humorous and entertaining, and that its style can be intentionally humorous.

As to the segment complained about, the Authority considers that it was satirical comment on claims by Winston Peters about the possible exporting of St Bernard dogs from New Zealand to Asia for consumption. It was apparent from the footage broadcast that the hosts were incredulous at the claims. There was no portrayal of any harm to St Bernards as a species of dogs.

In the Authority’s view, it is beyond its role to determine whether there is any truth to the allegations which were the subject of the Ice As satire. Leaving aside the question of whether or not there exists any trade in St Bernards for consumption, the Authority accepts that many people would find such a prospect offensive, as Mr Peters reportedly did. However, the subject broadcast was satirical comment on the alleged trade. Further, the Authority accepts TV3’s explanation that it did not intend to implicate Tauranga breeders of the dogs in its humour. It considers it unlikely that the audience would have perceived such an inference. Having regard to the matters referred to above, the Authority concludes that standard G2 was not breached on this occasion.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
7 September 2000

Appendix

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

1.    Charmaine Kendrick’s Formal Complaint to TV3 Network Services Ltd – 24 May 2000

2.    TV3’s Response to Formal Complaint – 27 June 2000

3.    Ms Kendrick’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 10 July 2000

4.    TV3’s Response to the Referral – 24 July 2000