BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Menzies and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2001-223

Members
  • P Cartwright (Chair)
  • B Hayward
  • R Bryant
  • J H McGregor
Dated
Complainant
  • Glenette Menzies
Number
2001-223
Programme
Teachers promo
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint
Teachers – promo – visuals of naked man – broadcaster not mindful of effect on children

Findings
Standard G12 – promo farcical – not damaging to children – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Summary

[1] A promo for the programme Teachers was shown during the One News bulletin broadcast on TV One at 6.00pm on 20 August 2001. The visuals included a naked man in a foetal position, and the man running naked down a corridor with his hands covering his private parts.

[2] Glenette Menzies complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the promo should not have been shown at that hour.

[3] TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint, stating that the visuals of the naked man were not explicit and did not stray beyond currently accepted norms of decency and taste. In its view, there was nothing in the promo which was inherently damaging to children.

[4] Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mrs Menzies referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act.

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

Decision

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

The Promo

[6] A promo for the programme Teachers was shown during the One News bulletin broadcast on TV One at 6.00pm on 20 August 2001. The voiceover said:

What’s going on at the end of year class party? Who gets with who and what are the saucy details? Teachers reveal all, and we mean all. 9.30. Monday.

[7] The visuals included a naked man in a foetal position, and the man running naked down a corridor with his hands covering his private parts.

The Complaint

[8] Glenette Menzies complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the promo should not have been shown at that hour. She said:

Who monitors what can be shown at this early hour? Have they no regard for children’s well being?

The Standards

[9] TVNZ considered the complaint under standards G2 and G12 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. In the preparation and presentation of programmes, those standards require broadcasters:

G2  To take into consideration currently accepted norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour, bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs.

G12  To be mindful of the effect any programme may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times.

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Complainant

[10] TVNZ responded that, while the promo promised that an episode of Teachers would be "saucy", the visuals of the naked man were not explicit. It said the first shot was a static one with the man almost in a foetal position with no private parts visible, while in the shot of the man running down a darkened corridor he had his private parts concealed by both his hands and the shadow. It said:

What viewers would draw from the trailer was that during the episode of Teachers being trailered the man concerned was going to find himself in a position which was both embarrassing and comical.

[11] Under standard G2, TVNZ said the inexplicit nature of the two shots did not stray beyond "currently accepted norms of decency and taste". The broadcaster further noted that the promo was shown during One News, a programme in which the requirements of news meant that "often material far more offensive in nature than that contained in the promo must necessarily be screened".

[12] Under standard G12, TVNZ said its Committee believed there was nothing in the promo which was inherently damaging to children. It also noted that news programmes were not usually the first choice of unattended children. Children viewing One News were most likely watching in the company of adults who were in a position to offer counselling about the naked man if they felt that was necessary, TVNZ said.

The Complainant’s Referral to the Authority

[13] Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mrs Menzies referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act.

[14] She said although she disagreed with TVNZ’s response under standard G2, she did not want to take that matter further.

[15] Under standard G12, however, Mrs Menzies said she did not accept the theories advanced for it being harmless to children. She said:

This scene is not suitable for screening at this time of night. It is not for children to view.

[16] While One News might not be children’s first choice of viewing, that did not mean children were not watching it, she said. In her view, 6.00pm was "far too early" for such scenes of nudity to be shown.

The Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[17] In its response to the Authority, TVNZ said while it was sorry Mrs Menzies was dissatisfied with its response, it did not understand what harm she saw arising from children seeing the promo. It said:

This is especially so in a news context where, if she is right and unattended children are regularly watching (something we do not think is likely) they are frequently and necessarily exposed to much more distressing and offensive real-life material than is found in the promo.

The Complainant’s Final Comment

[18] In her final comment, Mrs Menzies said it was a "dangerous supposition" to expect children to understand the visuals as being saucy and comic. The fact that the naked man was a teacher added to their confusion, she said. Mrs Menzies continued:

Children are encouraged to respect and trust teachers. What sort of message does the promo give to children? That it is funny for teachers to be naked in a school corridor after hours? Dangerous, especially with the recent happening of sexual child abuse by teachers in the school situation.

The Authority's Determination

[19] Mrs Menzies’ complaint to TVNZ alleged breaches of standards G2 and G12. In her referral, however, the complainant asked that the Authority consider only the standard G12 aspect of the complaint. Accordingly, the Authority’s decision is limited to a determination of whether the promo breached standard G12.

[20] Standard G12 requires broadcasters to be mindful of the effect any programme (including promos) may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times. The Authority acknowledges that children may be in the viewing audience. However, it considers the visuals of the promo complained about were comical in the nature of a French farce. There was nothing explicit in the visuals. The Authority concurs with TVNZ that there was nothing in the promo which was inherently damaging to children. Accordingly, it declines to uphold the complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Cartwright
Chair
17 December 2001

Appendix

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

  1. Glenette Menzies’ Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 26 August 2001
  2. TVNZ’s Response to Mrs Menzies – 26 September 2001
  3. Mrs Menzies’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 8 October 2001
  4. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 19 October 2001
  5. Mrs Menzies’ Final Comment – 28 October 2001