BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

RC and CanWest TVWorks Ltd - 2007-079

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • RC
Campbell Live
CanWest TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 2

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – item discussed a recently conducted study by a New Zealand woman investigating the early sexualisation of pre-teen girls – showed a photo of a then 11-year-old girl from the pages of Crème magazine – allegedly in breach of privacy and unfair

Standard 3 (privacy) – no private facts revealed – not upheld

Standard 6 (fairness) – not unfair to young girl – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   An item on Campbell Live, broadcast on 11 June 2007 at 7pm on TV3, discussed a recently conducted study by a New Zealand woman investigating the early sexualisation of pre-teen girls, or “tweenies”. The study had discovered that, for girls, magazines were very influential and, in some instances, more important than their brothers and sisters.

[2]   The programme included interviews with young girls who stated that they liked magazines such as Crème, which is a New Zealand magazine targeted at 10- to 15-year-old girls, Total Girl, and Girl Power. The author of the study said that eight and nine year old girls had informed her they read Cleo and Dolly magazines, which were targeted at teenagers, and 11 to 12-year-olds and said they were reading Cosmopolitan, which is targeted at 18-year-olds.

[3]   The study author stated that the girls were looking at clothing in the magazines such as push-up bras and lacy lingerie. The reporter said pre-teen girls seemed to be more interested in teenage clothing. Several pictures from magazines were shown, including a head shot and full body shot of a girl (wearing a singlet and trousers) whose first name appeared next to the photos.


[4]   RC made a formal complaint about the item to CanWest TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster. She said that photos of her now 12-year-old daughter, which had appeared in Crème magazine in 2006, had been used in the item without their permission, and her daughter’s first name had appeared alongside the photos.

[5]   RC stated that it was upsetting for her daughter to be associated with “pole dancers and sexy music clips”, and said that her daughter had never read any of the magazines referred to in the item. In the complainant’s view, the broadcaster had breached the rights of her daughter to be treated with fairness and respect.


[6]   CanWest assessed the complaint under Standards 3 and 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, and the Authority’s privacy principle 1. These provide:

Standard 3 Privacy

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.

Guideline 3a
Broadcasters must comply with the privacy principles developed by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Privacy Principle 1

It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of private facts, where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.

Standard 6 Fairness

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[7]   Looking at the privacy standard, CanWest agreed that RC’s daughter was identifiable in the item. However, it found that the item did not disclose any private facts about her daughter. The broadcaster noted that the footage of RC’s daughter was taken from the pages of Crème magazine, and the voiceover did not refer to the pictures but to the interview with two young girls. The reporter had said “pre-teen girls seem to be more interested in teenage clothing than clothes for their own age”, and the girls began to talk about what they liked to wear.

[8]   CanWest maintained that the photos of the complainant’s daughter were not used as an example of any of the specific points being made in the report, but were included to provide a relevant visual example of young girls who appeared in Crème magazine. It noted that the photos did not show the girl in skimpy clothes or lingerie, but simply smiling and posing for the camera. In the broadcaster’s view, there was no breach of privacy on this occasion.

[9]   Turning to Standard 6 (fairness), CanWest stated that the item had looked at a number of magazines read by pre-teen girls, Crème magazine included. It was acceptable in that context, it wrote, to use an extract from the published magazine as an illustration. In the broadcaster’s view, there was no requirement to seek consent from the magazine publisher or from the individuals whose images had been used. It added:

This is particularly so where the images used could not be said to make any kind of denigratory or unfair comment on the individual concerned.

[10]   The broadcaster acknowledged RC’s concern but it pointed out that her daughter’s image had already appeared in a published magazine. It apologised for any distress caused, but declined to uphold the fairness complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[11]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, RC referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. She maintained that Crème magazine contained fashion and celebrity articles, but it did not contain any sexual material or content inappropriate for eight- to twelve-year-olds. As a mother, the complainant wrote, she was embarrassed that people watching the item would have the impression she allowed her daughter to appear in a “dodgy and inappropriate” magazine. She added:

[My daughter] is not a model. I believe that she should have the right to send her photo into a magazine that she and all her friends read, without finding herself on national television in an unflattering light.

Authority's Determination

[12]   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.

Standard 6 (fairness)

[13]   In the Authority’s view, the broadcaster did not treat RC’s daughter unfairly by broadcasting her image from the magazine pages. It disagrees with RC that the photos of her daughter were associated with sleazy images such as pole dancing; in fact they were used in the context of discussing the clothing choices pre-teen girls were making. RC’s daughter was shown smiling and dressed in an entirely appropriate manner for a then 11-year-old girl. The Authority finds that viewers would not have been left with a negative impression of RC’s daughter, and it declines to uphold the fairness complaint.

Standard 3 (privacy)

[14]   CanWest assessed the privacy complaint under privacy principle 1, and the Authority agrees that this principle is potentially relevant to the complaint. It provides:

It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of private facts, where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.

[15]   In the Authority’s view, the broadcaster did not disclose a “private fact” by broadcasting images of RC’s daughter. The pictures were already in the public domain by virtue of their publication in Crème magazine. Accordingly it finds that the privacy standard was not breached on this occasion.

Name Suppression

[16]   Given the age of RC’s daughter and the effect that the broadcast has already had on her, the Authority is of the view that it is appropriate to suppress the complainant’s name on this occasion.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
29 October 2007


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

1.            RC’s formal complaint – 28 June 2007
2.           CanWest’s decision on the formal complaint –
3.           RC’s referral to the Authority – 3 August 2007
4.           CanWest’s response to the Authority – 3 September 2007