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Shaw and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-063 (1 December 2015)

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
  • Derek Shaw

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

  A character in a promo for Puberty Blues broadcast during ONE News referred to a ‘69er’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that it was gratuitous and irresponsible to screen this promo before 8.30pm. The verbal reference to a ‘69er’ was fleeting and was not explained; inexplicit sexual material or innuendo is permissible during children’s normally accepted viewing times. Additionally, child viewers were likely to be supervised during the news. Overall the Authority found the broadcaster adequately considered the interests of child viewers and the promo did not require a higher classification than PGR.   Not Upheld: Responsible Programming, Children’s Interests    


[1]  A clip from Puberty Blues was included in a promo for TV ONE’s Saturday programme line-up, broadcast during ONE News. During the promo one of the characters, a teenage girl, referred to a ‘69er’.   [2]  Derek Shaw complained that it was gratuitous, irresponsible and unnecessary for the broadcaster to screen this promo before 8.30pm.   [3]  The issue is whether the promo breached the responsible programming and children’s interests standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.    [4]  The promo was broadcast on TV ONE at 6.30pm on 10 July 2015. 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 promo breach broadcasting standards?

[5]  The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires broadcasters to ensure that programmes are correctly classified and screened in the appropriate time-band. The children’s interests standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. The purpose of the standard is to protect children from broadcasts which might adversely affect them.1  Because Mr Shaw’s complaint raises similar issues under both responsible programming and children’s interests, we have addressed these standards together.   [6]  In his complaint Mr Shaw said he had been watching ONE News with his three children, who all saw the promo and asked him what a ‘69er’ was. He felt that given the time of broadcast, it should have been obvious to the broadcaster that children would view the promo. Mr Shaw argued that the content of ONE News – actual events – should not be relied upon by the broadcaster to mitigate the gratuitous nature of the promo.    [7]  TVNZ referred to the subject matter discussed during news and current affairs programmes (such as serious crime and civil unrest) and argued that there is an expectation adults will supervise child viewers, as these programmes are likely to contain material that is inappropriate for children. TVNZ noted that while the promo contained the phrase ‘69er’, no sexual material was shown and the meaning of the phrase was not explained. It maintained that the content was of a level which was acceptable to screen during ONE News and in this context the interests of child viewers were considered.   [8]  Guideline 8b to the responsible programming standard states that when a promo screens during an unclassified host programme (including news and current affairs) in G or PGR time, the promo must be classified G or PGR and broadcasters should pay regard to the children’s interests standard. Therefore, in order to find a breach of the responsible programming standard we must find that the promo for Puberty Blues exceeded the PGR classification and warranted a higher classification of AO and restriction to a later time of broadcast.   [9]  The PGR and AO classifications are defined as follows in Appendix 1 to the Code:

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.

[10]  The promo depicted a father opening the door to his daughter Sue’s bedroom and showed close-up shots of his and Sue’s shocked faces. Sue was then shown on the phone to her friend having the following conversation: 

Sue: My dad saw me.
Friend: 69er?!
Sue: Yeah.
Friend: Oh Sue!
Sue: I know…

[11]  The Authority has previously held that any sexual content or references during children's normally accepted viewing times should be subtle and inexplicit, or in the nature of sexual innuendo that would be likely to go over the heads of child viewers.2  The reference to a ‘69er’, while a colloquial expression for a sexual position, was fleeting in the context of the promo as a whole – which was 45 seconds in duration and also included lengthy excerpts from Hyundai Country Calendar and Coronation Street. The remark was not dwelt on or explained, either visually or verbally. No sexual activity was depicted. We are therefore satisfied that the brief verbal reference to a ‘69er’ was sufficiently inexplicit that it was likely to have been unclear to most children who would have passed the expression by.    [12]  Additionally, the Authority has previously recognised that during unclassified news programmes, including those broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times, adult supervision is expected as these programmes are likely to contain material that is inappropriate for children.3  The need to explain or obfuscate things to children is one of the familiar challenges of parenting and that need in itself is not reason enough to find that standards have been breached.   [13]  For these reasons, we find that the promo did not contain anything which exceeded the PGR classification or was inappropriate for supervised child viewers, and that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests when scheduling the promo for broadcast during ONE News.   [14]  Accordingly we decline to uphold the complaint under Standards 8 and 9.   For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.   Signed for and on behalf of the Authority       Peter Radich Chair 1 December 2015  


The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:   1      Derek Shaw’s formal complaint – 11 July 2015 2      TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 6 August 2015 3      Mr Shaw’s referral to the Authority – 22 August 2015 4      TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 16 October 2015  

1 E.g. Harrison and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-066 2Cross and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-059 at [20] 3Bracey and Ee and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-084 at [9]