O'Neil and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2010-125
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Leigh Pearson
- Tapu Misa
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Sarah O'Neil
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Cellularpromo – promo for AO-classified movie broadcast during PGR-rated animated movie – allegedly in breach of responsible programming and children's interests standards
Standard 8 (responsible programming) – promo did not contain any AO material - promo correctly rated PGR and screened in appropriate host programme – not upheld
Standard 9 (children's interests) – broadcaster adequately considered children's interests in screening the promo during Ratatouille – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 A promo for the movie Cellular was screened on TV2 on Saturday 14 August 2010, near the end of Ratatouille, an animated movie which was rated PGR and screened at 7.30pm. Cellular was classified Adults Only and was broadcast at 9.45pm after Ratatouille.
 At the beginning of the promo, a woman was shown on the phone to a man asking for help, saying that she had been kidnapped. A voice said, "You're never going to see your son again" and a boy was shown being pulled into the back of a car. Then the following brief images were shown in rapid succession:
- a truck exploding
- a car chase
- a man hitting another man in the chest with a large object
- a man pointing a gun
- the same man firing the gun as he was diving for the ground
- the woman who was on the phone pushing a man away from her
- a man pushing another man who fell head first onto the ground.
 Sarah O'Neil made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promo breached standards relating to responsible programming and children's interests.
 Ms O'Neil alleged that Ratatouille was rated G, and that the promo "contained material that was disturbing to children watching the G-rated movie. It featured a child being kidnapped and dragged into a car and a lot of gun violence." She argued that the material was not within the G classification, and therefore breached guideline 8b to the responsible programming standard which stated that promos must comply with the classification of the programme in which they screen. She also considered that TVNZ had breached guidelines 9a, 9c and 9d to the children's interests standard.
 Ms O'Neil nominated Standards 8 and 9 and guidelines 8b, 9a, 9c and 9d of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice in her complaint. These provide:
Standard 8 Responsible Programming
Broadcasters should ensure that programme information and content is socially responsible.
All promos (including promos for news and current affairs) should be classified to comply with the "host programme" (the programme in which they screen):
- Promos for AO programmes shown outside AO time should comply with the classification of the host programme;
- Promos shown in G or PGR programmes screening in AO time should comply with the G or PGR classification of the host programme;
- Broadcasters should be aware that promos showing footage of violence or other explicit material outside the context of the original programme may be unacceptable to viewers in the context of the host programme in which they screen.
Standard 9 Children's Interests
During children's normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters should consider the interests of child viewers. Guidelines
9a Broadcasters should be mindful of the effect any programme or promo may have on children during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm – and avoid screening material that would disturb or alarm them.
9c Broadcasters should have regard to the fact that children tend to:
- stay up later than usual on Friday and Saturday nights and during school and public holidays and,
- watch television through to midday on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and during school and public holidays.
Accordingly, special attention should be given to providing appropriate warnings during these periods.
9d Programmes containing disturbing social and domestic friction or sequences in which people - especially children - or animals may be humiliated or badly treated, should be handled with care and sensitivity.
- all gratuitous material of this nature should be avoided and any scenes shown must pass the test of relevancy within the context of the programme. If thought likely to disturb children, the programme should be scheduled later in the evening.
Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant
 Looking first at responsible programming, TVNZ maintained that the Cellular promo was correctly rated PGR and screened during Ratatouille which was also rated PGR. It considered that the promo did not contain any material that warranted an AO classification, and it therefore declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 8.
 For the same reasons, TVNZ concluded that it had adequately considered the interests of child viewers in screening the promo during Ratatouille, and it declined to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.
Referral to the Authority
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster's response, Ms O'Neil referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She considered that when "watching a touchy feely movie about a cute little mouse, the kid shouldn't be subjected to disturbing images of a child being kidnapped". She argued that TVNZ had not borne in mind that the target audience was children.
 Ms O'Neil stated that she was complaining in general about the screening of advertisements and promos containing adult material during movies aimed at children.
Broadcaster's Response to the Authority
 TVNZ noted that Ms O'Neil had complained about a number of advertisements and promos that were screened during G-rated movies, and argued that "this has no bearing on the Cellular promo which screened during Ratatouille" and further that these points could not be considered at the referral stage as she did not raise them in her original formal complaint.
 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.
 Ms O'Neil complained in general about the screening of advertisements and promos containing adult material during movies aimed at children. Section 6 of the Broadcasting Act 1989 requires that formal complaints relate to a specified programme. We are unable to apply broadcasting standards to general concerns about programme scheduling. Accordingly, we only have jurisdiction to consider Ms O'Neil's complaint in relation to the promo for Cellular which was broadcast during Ratatouille on 14 August 2010, which she identified in her original formal complaint.
Standard 8 (responsible programming)
 Standard 8 requires that programmes are correctly classified, display programme classification information, and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code. Guideline 8b states that promos must be classified to comply with the host programme in which they screen, and that promos shown in G or PGR programmes screening in AO time should comply with the G or PGR classification of the host programme.
 Ms O'Neil contended that Ratatouille was rated G. TVNZ maintained that it was rated PGR, which is reinforced by the Listener magazine. For us to determine that the promo was incorrectly classified in breach of Standard 8, we would have to make a finding that the promo contained material which went beyond its PGR rating, and which warranted an AO classification. The PGR and AO classifications are defined in Appendix 1 to the Code as follows:
PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended
Programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult.
AO – Adults Only
Programmes containing adult themes and directed primarily at mature audiences.
 In our view, while the promo contained more mature themes, such as kidnapping and violence, the visual depiction of those themes in the promo was relatively tame. The images were shown in rapid succession, and none of the images was sufficiently graphic to warrant an Adults Only classification.
 Given that the images in the promo were brief, we are of the view that they would not have created any impression that was unsuitable for children under adult supervision. We therefore find that the promo was appropriately screened during a PGR-rated programme, and we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.
Standard 9 (children's interests)
 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.
 We have found above under Standard 8 that, as the images in the promo were brief and fairly inexplicit, the promo was not unsuitable for children under the guidance of an adult, and was therefore correctly rated PGR.
 Accordingly, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers in screening the promo during Ratatouille, and we decline to uphold the Standard 9 complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
23 December 2010
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1. Sarah O'Neil's formal complaint – 16 August 2010
2. TVNZ's response to the complaint – 13 September 2010
3. Ms O'Neil's referral to the Authority – 17 September 2010
4. TVNZ's response to the Authority – 8 November 2010