BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

McLeod and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2004-087

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Dennis McLeod
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Fence Jumping – promo – documentary about gay men who “came out” when married – broadcast during One News beginning at 6.00pm – allegedly offensive, inappropriately classified and unsuitable for children

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

Standard 7 and Guideline 7b (classification) – appropriately classified as G – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – homosexuality dealt with in straightforward way which was suitable for children – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] A promo for the documentary Fence Jumping was broadcast during One News at about 6.30pm on Sunday 25 April 2004. The documentary was about men who, while married, realised that they were gay and how such men “came out”. The promo indicated the programme’s content.


[2] Dennis McLeod complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the promo was “totally offensive”, and no thought had been given to the possibility that children might be watching the news. If such promos were broadcast, he contended, the news should be preceded with a warning that it contained promos which could offend.


[3] TVNZ assessed the complaint under the following standards and guidelines in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice:

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. The examples are not exhaustive.

Standard 7 Programme Classification

Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified and adequately display programme classification information, and that time-bands are adhered to.


7b  Broadcasters should ensure that all promos (including promos for news and current affairs) comply in content with the classification band in which they are shown. For example, promos for AO programmes shown outside Adults Only time must conform in content with the classification of the time-band in which they are broadcast.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times, broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] TVNZ said that it was unable to understand how the item, which contained “talking heads” and coverage of a gay parade, was offensive. The topic of homosexuality, it added, had been dealt with in the 6.00pm news for many years.

[5] As for the item’s classification, TVNZ acknowledged that the promo related to an “AO” programme. Nevertheless, it said, the promo was classified as “G”. TVNZ also expressed the opinion that as the promo was screened during the news hour, it had been broadcast during a “non-classified” time band.

[6] TVNZ accepted that some children were encouraged by their school teachers to watch the news. Children who did so, it added, would be familiar with the issues surrounding homosexuality. The short item, it added, did not contain alarming or disturbing material, and it declined to uphold any aspects of the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[7] When he referred his complaint to the Authority, Mr McLeod focused on the visuals from a gay parade used in the promo. Such material, he wrote:

... left nothing to the imagination [and] was totally out of place in this time slot.

Broadcaster's Response to the Authority

[8] TVNZ advised that it had nothing further to add.

Authority's Determination

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

[10] Having viewed the promo, the Authority agrees with TVNZ that it was classified appropriately as G. It considered that the only aspect which might be of concern was the extract from a gay parade which was included in the promo. However, it was a brief passing shot which did not focus on behaviour which could be described as offensive and which, in the Authority’s opinion, did not threaten the G classification.

[11] The Authority concludes that the promo dealt with the contents of the forthcoming programme openly and intelligently, and avoided any gratuitous material.

[12] In view of these conclusions, the Authority decides that the broadcast does not breach the requirements in Standard 1 (good taste and decency) or Standard 7 (programme classification). Further, as the promo dealt with homosexuality in a way which was appropriate to younger viewers, the Authority also concludes that the broadcaster considered the interests of children as required in Standard 9.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
29 July 2004


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

1     Dennis McLeod’s Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 28 April 2004
2    TVNZ’s Response to the Formal Complaint – 27 May 2004
3    Mr McLeod’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 30 May 2004
4    TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 14 June 2004