BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Leo and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2011-015

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Graeme Leo
Number
2011-015
Programme
Castle promo
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Castle promo – contained comments, “a big time slugger gets whacked”, and “someone used his head for batting practice” – allegedly in breach of children’s interests standard

Findings
Standard 9 (children’s interests) – promo contained references to violence but no visual depictions of violence – would not have disturbed children – content was correctly classified PGR – broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   A promo for Castle, a criminal drama in which the murder of a baseball player was being investigated, was broadcast on TV One at 7.10pm on 5 January 2011, during Masterchef UK, which was rated PGR. A voiceover said, “a big time slugger gets whacked”, and a character in the programme was shown commenting, “someone used his head for batting practice”. The promo did not contain any footage of the murder or of the deceased’s body.

Complaint

[2]   Graeme Leo made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo breached standards relating to children’s interests. He considered that the statements in the promo, “someone used his head for batting practice” and “big time slugger gets whacked” amounted to “sensationalising gratuitous violence” at a time when children could be watching.

Standards

[3]   Mr Leo nominated Standard 9 and guideline 9a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in his complaint. These provide:

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers.

Guideline 9a

Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm – and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4]   TVNZ noted that the promo’s host programme, Masterchef UK, was rated PGR, meaning that it contained material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for children under the guidance of a parent or adult. It considered that the promo was acceptable for screening during PGR time. TVNZ maintained that the promo did not contain any adult content or themes, and that none of the material in the promo was explicit. It noted that the comment, “someone used his head for batting practice” was not accompanied by any visuals of the corpse or the injuries.

[5]   TVNZ argued that the promo did not contain any material likely to disturb or alarm supervised child viewers, and therefore concluded that it had adequately considered children’s interests in screening the promo during Masterchef UK.

[6]   Accordingly, the broadcaster declined to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[7]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Leo referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He argued that promos were “more than just a visual presentation” and that they were designed to have “audible impact to attract the viewer”.

Authority's Determination

[8]   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.

[9]   Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. Guideline 9a states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during those times and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[10]   On this occasion, the promo for Castle was broadcast at 7.10pm during Masterchef UK, which was rated PGR. The PGR classification is defined as follows in Appendix 1 to the Code:

PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended

Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or adult.

[11]   In our view, the comments subject to complaint, “a big time slugger gets whacked”, and “someone used his head for batting practice”, reflected the programme’s humour and were plays on words illustrating the theme of the episode, namely the murder of a baseball player. The promo did not contain any visual depiction of violence or of the murder. In these circumstances, we consider that the promo would not have disturbed child viewers in the company of an adult, and that the promo did not contain any material which warranted a higher classification of Adults Only. We therefore find that the promo was correctly rated PGR.

[12]   Accordingly, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests in broadcasting the promo at 7.10pm during Masterchef UK, and we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
7 June 2011

Appendix

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

1   Graeme Leo’s formal complaint – 5 January 2011

2   TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 4 February 2011

3   Mr Leo’s referral to the Authority – 9 February 2011

4   TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 20 April 2011