BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Nielsen and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-010

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Julie Nielsen
Number
2012-010
Broadcaster
TVWorks Ltd
Channel/Station
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promo for Comedy Convoy – female comedian stated, “When I was in my early twenties I really wanted kids, like I really wanted them, but I just could never lure them into my car” – audience responded with laughter – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming, and children’s interests

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – comment clearly intended as a joke – broadcast in the middle of the day during the school term – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests by broadcasting the promo during Home and Away – not upheld

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – promo correctly rated G and screened in an appropriate timeslot – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Introduction

[1]  A promo for Comedy Convoy, a documentary series capturing the performances of stand-up comedians, was broadcast during Home and Away on TV3 at 12.48pm on 9 December 2011. The promo featured a female comedian stating, “When I was in my early twenties I really wanted kids, like I really wanted them, but I just could never lure them into my car”. The audience responded with laughter.

[2]  Julie Nielsen made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the comedian’s comment and the subsequent laughter from the audience were “extremely inappropriate”, especially when screened at a time when children and young people were likely to be watching. She stated that children being lured into a car was “no laughing matter, and is a serious risk for children.”

[3]  The issue is whether the promo breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 8 (responsible programming) and 9 (children’s interests) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[5]  Standard 1 states that broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency. The primary objective of this standard is to protect against the broadcast of sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The comment subject to complaint did not fall within any of these categories.

[6]  However, the Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2 In this respect, the standard is intended to ensure that programmes reflect community norms of decorum and civility.

[7]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. The relevant contextual factors include:

  • the promo was broadcast between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on a weekday, during which time PGR and AO programmes may be broadcast (see Appendix 1 to the Free-to-Air Television Code)
  • the promo was broadcast during the school term
  • the promo was rated G
  • the promo screened during Home and Away which was rated G
  • Home and Away’s target audience
  • Comedy Convoy was rated AO and screened at 9.30pm
  • the comment was intended as a joke.

[8]  The comment subject to complaint was made during a promo for a series featuring stand-up comedians in action, and the woman who made the comment was obviously conducting a live performance. It was clear from the footage and the laughter that followed, that the comment was intended to be humorous, as opposed to being taken seriously.

[9]  Ms Nielsen’s primary concern appears to be the time the promo was broadcast; she considered that the comment and subsequent laughter made it “sound like it’s okay to lure children into a car”, which she alleged was “likely to cause confusion for children... possibly resulting in them thinking it’s cool to get in someone’s car”.

[10]  However, the promo screened at approximately 12.50pm during the school term and in the host programme Home and Away, which is not aimed at, nor likely to appeal to, younger child viewers.3 An important contextual factor is that, in accordance with Appendix 1 to the Code, broadcasters are permitted to screen PGR and Adults Only programmes between 12pm and 3pm on weekdays, except during school holidays.

[11]  In addition, we consider that the comment would have gone over the heads of younger viewers, including pre-school-age children who could have been near the television at that time.

[12]  Taking into account the above contextual factors, we are satisfied that the promo did not contain any content that was likely to offend or distress viewers. We therefore decline to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

Did the broadcaster adequately consider children’s interests?

[13]  Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. Guideline 9a states that broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during these times, and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.

[14]  For the reasons discussed above, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests in screening the promo at 12.48pm on a weekday during the school term. We therefore decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 9.

Was the promo correctly classified and broadcast in an appropriate timeslot?

[15]  Standard 8 (responsible programming) requires broadcasters to ensure that programmes are correctly classified and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Code. Guideline 8b to that standard requires that promos are classified to comply with the programme in which they screen.

[16]  The promo for Comedy Convoy was classified G and was broadcast at 12.48pm during the school term, and within the host programme Home and Away, which was rated G. The G classification is defined as follows:

G – General

Programmes which exclude material likely to be unsuitable for children. Programmes may not necessarily be designed for child viewers but should not contain material likely to alarm them.

[17]  For the reasons expressed above (see paragraphs [10] and 11]), we do not consider that the promo contained any content that was likely to alarm children, or that warranted a higher classification of PGR.

[18]  We therefore find that the promo was correctly rated G and screened in an appropriate timeslot in accordance with the definition in Appendix 1. We decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 8.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
27 March 2012

Appendix

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

1                  Julie Nielsen’s formal complaint – 9 December 2011

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 11 January 2012

3                 Ms Nielsen’s referral to the Authority – 31 January 2012

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 10 February 2012


1Turner and TVNZ, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)

3See, for example, Simpson and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2009-120 and Sundborn and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2010-044