Memelink and TVWorks Ltd - 2009-045
- Joanne Morris (Chair)
- Diane Musgrave
- Tapu Misa
- Paul France
- Ingrid Memelink
Channel/StationTV3 # 3
Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – item about an Auckland all-Chinese club rugby team – showed footage of the team training and playing their first club game – players were shown drinking beer after the game – brand of beer visible – allegedly in breach of liquor promotion standard
Standard 11 (liquor promotion) – liquor promotion was socially responsible – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 An item on Campbell Live, broadcast on TV3 at 7pm on Wednesday 26 March 2009, reported on an all-Chinese club rugby team from Auckland. The team’s coach was interviewed and the team was shown training and playing their first rugby match. Just before their match started, the opposition’s coach was show telling his players, "Let’s do it. Get out there, have fun, run around, pass the ball around, score a few tries and we’ll have a beer after".
 The item ended with footage of the Chinese team sitting on the sideline after the game drinking Speights beer. This included a shot of a chilly-bin packed with ice and beer, next to a Speights beer box. While this footage was shown, a voiceover from a reporter said "...final score 60-nil, but heads held high all the same and like all true rugby players, cold beer awaits". The reporter then briefly interviewed two of the Chinese players about how the game went and their hopes for the future of the team.
 At the end of the item, one player was shown gulping down his beer, after which he said, "I love New Zealand. I love rugby. We are a Chinese team, first one, rugby number one!"
 Ingrid Memelink made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached broadcasting standards relating to liquor promotion. She argued the item was a "blatant positive promotion of beer drinking in relation to sport and the clear promotion of the brand being drunk". She contended that the item promoted the drinking of alcohol amongst young people and particularly young Asian students.
 Ms Memelink said that "the positive promotion of alcohol in such news items on TV enforces the already serious problem New Zealand is experiencing in relation to young people and the over-use of alcohol".
 The complainant nominated Standard 11 and guidelines 11a, 11b, 11f and 11g of the Free-to-Air Code of Broadcasting Practice These provide:
Standard 11 Liquor
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters must observe restrictions on the promotion of liquor appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast. Liquor Promotion should be socially responsible and must not encourage consumption by people who are under the legal age to purchase liquor.
Liquor Promotion comprises:
- promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
- liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
- advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’)
11a Liquor promotion must not appear in programmes specifically directed at
11b Broadcasters must ensure that liquor promotion does not dominate
11f When scheduling liquor-sponsored programmes, broadcasters will also take into account the requirements of principle 4.4 of the Advertising Standards
Authority’s Code for Advertising Liquor (which requires broadcasters to take
care to avoid the impression that liquor promotion is dominating the viewing
11g In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters must avoid advocacy of excessive liquor consumption.
Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant
 TVWorks stated that, in all liquor complaints it must first be decided whether the content of concern amounted to liquor promotion. It considered that the reporter’s reference to cold beer coupled with the inclusion of a box displaying a brand name amounted to liquor promotion.
 The broadcaster said the second consideration was whether the liquor promotion was socially responsible. It noted that Campbell Live was a current affairs programme with an adult target audience and that it was unlikely that unsupervised young children would have been watching.
 The broadcaster argued that "beer could be seen for a matter of seconds during the five-minute report". It stated that the players drinking were clearly over 18 years old and were shown drinking beer to quench their thirst and not to get drunk.
 TVWorks contended that "the overall tone of the item was the good natured way in which this team participated in the iconic New Zealand sport and was very much focused on the rugby". It argued the beer brand was incidental to and arose naturally in the story and, while drinking was portrayed in a positive light, there was nothing untoward in showing a rugby team having a beer after a game.
 The broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 11.
Referral to the Authority
 Dissatisfied with TVWorks’ response, the Ms Memelink referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The complainant argued that Campbell Live was targeted at a general audience, as it often featured human interest stories aimed at both adults and children. She said the beer brand was so obvious that her 9-year-old daughter commented on the Speights brewery in Dunedin located close to where they lived.
 Ms Memelink argued the amount of time beer was shown in the item - around 37 seconds - was longer than a television advertisement.
 The complainant said, "The very fact that the item was featured as good natured and focused on rugby emphasises clearly the already serious problem involving the association between sport (particularly rugby) and alcohol". She maintained that the item had breached Standard 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.
 There is a two-stage test involved in determining whether there has been a breach of Standard 11 (liquor). The Authority must first decide whether the broadcast constituted "liquor promotion" and, if so, it must then consider whether that liquor promotion was socially responsible.
 Standard 11 defines "liquor promotion" as:
- promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet
- liquor sponsorship of a programme
- advocacy of liquor consumption.
 Towards the end of the item complained about, a number of players were shown drinking beer, the brand of beer they were drinking was visible and the reporter commented, "...and like all true rugby players, cold beer awaits". In these circumstances, the Authority considers that the concluding parts of the item promoted a liquor brand and advocated liquor consumption. Therefore it concludes that the broadcast contained liquor promotion.
 The Authority must next determine whether this liquor promotion was socially responsible. It considers that the item was a light-hearted story that focused on the rugby team, and liquor promotion did not dominate the item (guideline 11b). The consumption of alcohol was in the context of post-match sporting camaraderie; the players, who were obviously above the legal drinking age, were not drunk and the item did not advocate excessive liquor consumption (guideline 11g).
 In the Authority’s view, while the item promoted the consumption of liquor, it did so in a socially responsible manner. Accordingly, it declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 11.
 The complainant also nominated guideline 11a as being relevant. The Authority notes that Campbell Live was an unclassified current affairs programme with an adult target audience and, as such, it finds that the programme was not specifically targeted at children. Therefore guideline 11a does not apply to this complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
8 July 2009
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Ingrid Memelink's formal complaint – 27 March 2009
2. TVWorks' response to the formal complaint – 29 April 2009
3. Ms Memelink's referral to the Authority – 5 May 2009
4. TVWorks' response to the Authority – 19 May 2009