BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Lee and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2010-099

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Tapu Misa
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Chris Lee
One News
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News
– teaser for upcoming item on knife crime – contained footage of carving knife and man simulating stabbing motion – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency


Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – images used to illustrate story on knife crime – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   One News, broadcast on TV One at 6.00pm on 5 July 2010, contained a brief eight-second teaser for an upcoming item on proposed legislative changes to reduce knife crime in New Zealand. In the teaser the news reader stated:

Cutting down on knife crime – tough new measures that’ll make it harder for young people to buy them over the counter.

[2]   The statement was accompanied by the following images:

  • a two-second shot of a carving knife held in a gloved hand at waist height
  • a two-second close-up shot of a carving knife as the camera panned up the knife
  • a three-second shot of a man standing in the dark punching his fist in the air in a stabbing motion.


[3]   Chris Lee made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached broadcasting standards. The complainant argued that the images in the teaser were gratuitous and should not have been broadcast at that time of the evening.


[4]    TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. It provides:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

Broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[5]   The broadcaster contended that to constitute a breach of Standard 1, the broadcast material must be unacceptable in the context in which was shown, including the time of broadcast, the programme’s classification, the target audience, and the use of any warnings.

[6]   TVNZ stated that One News was targeted at adults, and noted the Authority’s previous acknowledgment that news is unlikely to be watched by unsupervised young children.

[7]   The broadcaster argued that the images were not “gratuitous”, but were used as “visual shorthand” to give viewers an idea of the thrust of the upcoming item. It considered that the footage was appropriate in the context of introducing a story on knife crime, and that it gave an impression of violence without actually showing any threatening or violent footage. It contended that the shot of the man “punching his fist in the air” was filmed in dim lighting, making it difficult to ascertain what was taking place.

[8]   For the above reasons, TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[9]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Lee referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[10]   The complainant disagreed with TVNZ’s description of the footage, arguing that it did not “merely” contain a man punching his fist in the air, but that a stabbing action was suggested. He argued that the teaser did not give adequate opportunity for parental guidance, and reiterated his view that it contained “adult” themes unsuitable for screening during the news.

Authority's Determination

[11]   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.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[12]   When we consider a complaint that alleges a breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion the relevant contextual factors include:

  • the item was broadcast at 6.00pm during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • the item was broadcast during an unclassified news programme
  • the programme had an adult target audience.

[13]   In our view the teaser subject to complaint was very brief and highly stylised. The images of knives and the man punching his fist in the air in a stabbing motion were shot in dim lighting, and were too fleeting to have left a lasting impression. We do not consider that the teaser contained anything that was likely to have alarmed viewers; no victim or any injury was shown. Television is a visual medium and the images, rather than being gratuitous, were used to illustrate the subject-matter of the upcoming item on knife crime.

[14]   Taking into account the above contextual factors, we do not consider that Standard 1 was breached.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
26 October 2010


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

1.          Chris Lee’s formal complaint – 5 July 2010

2.          TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 3 August 2010

3.          Mr Lee’s referral to the Authority – 3 August 2010

4.          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 1 September 2010