BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

New and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2004-005

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
Dated
Complainant
  • Geoff New
Number
2004-005
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint
Fair Go – “Fair Go Ad Awards” – presenter lampooned margarine advertisement – sexual suggestions allegedly offensive and unsuitable for children

Findings
Standard 1 – sexual innuendo oblique and inexplicit – comedy – not upheld

Standard 9 – not unsuitable for children in context – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the Decision


Summary

[1] The annual “Fair Go Ad Awards” included a segment during which the presenter lampooned an advertisement for margarine, which had been nominated for “worst ad”. The episode of Fair Go was broadcast on TV One at 7.30pm on 15 October 2003.

[2] Geoff New complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the parodies contained sexually suggestive material which breached standards of good taste and decency and was unsuitable for children.

[3] In response, TVNZ disagreed that the programme breached broadcasting standards. It noted that the programme segment screened well into PGR time and did not consider that the “inexplicit innuendo” was unsuitable for children watching in the company of adults.

[4] Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, Mr New referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

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

Decision

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

Programme

[6] The annual “Fair Go Ad Awards” were broadcast in an episode of Fair Go on TV One at 7.30pm on 15 October 2003. They included a segment in which presenter Kevin Milne lampooned an advertisement for margarine, which had been nominated for “worst ad”. The original margarine advertisement for Flora Pro Activ featured a middle aged man in bed with a woman saying that the product had allowed him to do things he had “been wanting to do for years”. The presenter made fun of the advertisement three times by posing as the man in bed first playing computer games, secondly with a blow-up doll and thirdly with reporter, Simon Mercep.

Complaint

[7] The complainant considered that the segment breached standards of good taste and decency and was unsuitable for children. He was concerned by the sexual suggestions in the parodies. He said he was concerned that he might have to explain to his 7-year-old child “what a blow up doll was, or the concept of homosexuality”.

[8] He complained particularly that the programme included a competition for school age children, and described the juxtaposition of this material against the parodies as “profoundly irresponsible”. In his view, the programme was “attracting a young audience and yet contained material suited for an adult audience only”. He added:

… there was no way younger viewers could avoid watching this material because the climax of the show, the voting for the advertisements was right at the end of the programme. They needed to wait for voting instructions.

Standards

[9] In view of the matters raised in the complaint, TVNZ assessed it under Standards 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Standards read:

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.

Standard 9 Children's Interests

During children's normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[10] TVNZ noted that the advertisement which was lampooned was typical of a burgeoning number of advertisements dealing with or alluding to male impotency. It explained that the point of the spoof was that the original ad did not detail precisely what the man wanted to do.

[11] TVNZ also noted that there were no children in the studio audience during the segment in which fun was made of the Flora Pro Activ advertisement. As for children watching the programme at home, TVNZ noted that:

  • the programme segment was broadcast well into PGR time
  • it did not consider the inexplicit innuendo in the programme was unsuitable for children watching in the company of adults, and suggested that the complainant may have jumped to some conclusions about what innocent children might make of the images shown.

[12] TVNZ concluded that neither Standard 1 nor Standard 9 had been breached.

Complainant's Referral to the Authority

[13] When Mr New referred his complaint, he submitted:

I believe [TVNZ is] relying on ambiguity and innuendo on the part of their material, and naiveté on the part of children for the material not to be breaching decency or not protecting children.

Complainant's Final Comment

[14] In his final comment, the complainant disagreed that the spoofs were “inexplicit innuendo”. He also commented that presenting innuendo in a comical way did not necessarily make it less offensive.

Authority's Determination

 [15] The Authority must consider the context of a broadcast to determine whether it breaches Standard 1 (good taste and decency). Accordingly, the Authority notes the following relevant matters about the spoofs:

  • They were broadcast well into PGR time.
  • They were comically presented.
  • The advertisement being lampooned was well known as one of a number of widely screened advertisements dealing with male impotence.
  • The sexual innuendo was oblique, inexplicit and representative of a long history of comic sketch programming shown on New Zealand television.
  • The homosexual innuendo was no more offensive than the sexual innuendo in the original advertisement.
  • Children may not have understood the sexual innuendo.

[16] Taking into account the context in which the spoofs were broadcast, the Authority finds Standard 1 was not breached. For the same reasons, it also finds that the material was not inappropriate for children watching in the company of adults. Accordingly, it concludes that TVNZ has considered the interests of children as required by Standard 9 and finds that standard was not breached.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
26 February 2004

Appendix

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

1.    Geoff New's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 16 October 2003

2.    TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint – 12 November 2003

3.    Mr New's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 1 December 2003

4.    TVNZ's Response to the Authority – 16 December 2003

5.    Mr New's Final Comment – 24 December 2003