BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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McDonald and TVWorks Ltd - 2004-082

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Donald McDonald
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Heartbreakers – film – promo – used words “May I grab your nuts” – allegedly offensive language

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) and Guideline 1a – context – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] The words “May I grab your nuts” were contained in a promo for the film Heartbreakers. The scene involved the female lead talking suggestively to a male in a bar. The promo was broadcast during 3 News at approximately 6.30pm on 18 March 2004.


[2] Donald McDonald complained to TV3 Network Services Ltd, the broadcaster, that the phrase which suggested an indecent assault was offensive. When TV3 failed to respond to his complaint, Mr McDonald referred it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.


[3] At the Authority’s request when it responded to Mr McDonald, TV3 assessed the complaint under Standard 1 and Guideline 1a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. They provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

1a  Broadcasters must take into consideration current norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs. Examples of context are the time of the broadcast, the type of programme, the target audience, the use of warnings and the programme’s classification (see Appendix 1). The examples are not exhaustive.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] Explaining that context was relevant to complaints that a broadcast breached the requirements in Standard 1 for good taste and decency, TV3 said that it had taken into account the following matters:

  • the time of broadcast
  • the programme genre during which the promo was screened – the news
  • the PGR rating for the promo
  • the likely target audience – adult.

[5] On the basis that the PGR rated promo was acceptable during the unclassified news hour and that it was unlikely to have offended a significant number of viewers, TV3 declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[6] Mr McDonald disagreed with TV3’s ruling and referred it to the Authority for investigation and review.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[7] TV3 advised that it had nothing further to add.

Authority's Determination

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

[9] When the Authority determines a complaint alleging a breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into account the context of the broadcast complained about. The contextual factors on this occasion include the time of broadcast, the promo’s classification, and the target audience. The Authority notes that the fact that the promo was classified PGR and broadcast in G time is only one of a number of contextual factors to be taken into account.

[10] In the Authority’s view, the language and behaviour shown in the promo did not breach the good taste and decency standard and the Authority does not uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

[11] Mr McDonald described the words used as “totally unacceptable” and the Authority agrees with TV3 that the complaint alleged a breach of Standard 1. Should the complainant have alleged a breach of Standard 7 (programme classification) on the basis of its ruling in December No: 2003-138/140, the Authority would have upheld the complaint. In that decision, the Authority wrote:

The Authority accepts that 3 News is not classified and yet it is broadcast during the G time-band. However, the Authority does not accept TV3’s argument that the G time-band was “suspended” by the news programme and, therefore, the promos were shown in an “unclassified” time-band. In the Authority’s view, news programmes because of their nature, constitute the sole exception to the time-bands. The PGR definition is clear that PGR programmes, including promos, may not be screened between 4pm and 7pm. They do not get a “reprieve” from the time-band rules merely because they are screened during the news. The Authority considers that this view has been implicit in its determinations over the years.

[12] Decision No: 2003-138/140 also noted that the question of the classification of the material which screens within the early news hour was currently being discussed with the broadcasters. Those discussions are continuing.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
15 July 2004


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

1     Donald McDonald’s Complaint to TV3 Network Services Ltd
2    TV3’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 20 April 2004
3    Mr McDonald’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 23 April 2004
4    TV3’s Response – 18 May 2004