BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Shaxon and TVWorks Ltd - 2012-048

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Joanne Shaxon
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Promos for The Almighty Johnsons, Sons of Anarchy and Terra Nova – broadcast during Dr Phil at approximately 1.30pm – contained images of weapons including a knife and guns – allegedly in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence

Standard 1 (good taste and decency), Standard 9 (children’s interests), and Standard 10 (violence) – promos did not contain any AO material – promos appropriately classified PGR and screened during Dr Phil which was classified AO – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests and exercised sufficient care and discretion in dealing with the issue of violence – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


[1]  Promos for The Almighty Johnsons, Sons of Anarchy and Terra Nova were broadcast on TV3 on Tuesday 3 April 2012, during Dr Phil which was rated Adults Only (AO) and screened at 1pm. The Almighty Johnsons and Sons of Anarchy were rated AO and screened at 8.30pm and 9.30pm respectively. Terra Nova was rated PGR and screened at 7.30pm.

[2]  Joanne Shaxon made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the promos contained “adult themes” and content that was “unacceptable” to screen during the day when children could be watching. 

[3]  The issue is whether the promos breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 9 (children’s interests) and 10 (violence) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The members of the Authority have viewed recordings of the broadcasts complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

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

[5]  Standard 1 states that broadcasters should observe standards of good taste and decency. The standard is primarily concerned with the broadcast of sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 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

[6]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast, which here includes:

  • the promos were broadcast during Dr Phil, which was classified AO
  • the promos were classified PGR
  • they were broadcast at approximately 1.30pm during the school term
  • The Almighty Johnsons and Sons of Anarchy were classified AO, and Terra Nova was classified PGR
  • Dr Phil’s adult target audience
  • audience expectations of Dr Phil.

[7]  Ms Shaxon argued that the content of the promos, specifically a man holding a knife, men using shotguns to blow vehicle lights out, and a “shadowy clip” of a man holding a handgun, amounted to adult content and was screened during an inappropriate time-band.

[8]  While TVWorks accepted that the content was “relatively challenging”, it did not consider that it warranted a higher classification of AO. It emphasised that the promos screened during Dr Phil, a programme that was clearly not targeted at children.

[9]  The PGR classification is 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.

[10]  The images subject to complaint, which involved the use of weapons, were consistent with the promos’ PGR ratings. We accept that some of the content amounted to low-level violence, but consider that it was portrayed in a way that was acceptable for children’s viewing under the supervision of an adult. The use of guns, for example, was largely depicted through the sound of gunshots, and the targets were inanimate objects, as opposed to people. The footage of a knife-wielding man was dark and relatively brief.

[11]  While we are satisfied that the content was correctly rated PGR, we emphasise that the promos screened during Dr Phil which was classified AO. In accordance with Appendix 1 to the Code, broadcasters are permitted to screen AO programmes between 12pm and 3pm on weekdays during the school term. During these times, parents are expected to take reasonable measures to inform themselves about what they are watching and accept responsibility for protecting their own sensibilities, as well as monitoring their children’s viewing.

[12]  For these reasons, and taking into account the right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed by section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, we 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. The promos subject to complaint were broadcast at about 1.30pm during the school term.

[14]  Ms Shaxon argued that the promos contained adult themes and content that was unacceptable for younger children at home during the day. TVWorks argued that it had sufficiently considered children’s interests by scheduling the PGR-rated promos during an AO programme targeted at an adult audience.

[15]  For the reasons expressed under Standard 1, in particular that the promos were broadcast during Dr Phil which was classified AO and screened in the AO time-band, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests and we decline to uphold this part of the  complaint.

Did the broadcaster exercise adequate care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence?

[16]  Standard 10 states that broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence.

[17]  As noted above (see paragraph [10]), some of the content in the promos amounted to low-level violence. However, taking into account the relevant contextual factors listed above, including the time of broadcast, that the promos were classified PGR, and the AO classification of the host programme Dr Phil, we consider that TVWorks exercised sufficient care and discretion in dealing with the issue of violence, as required by the Code.

[18]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 10 complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
17 July 2012


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

1                 Joanne Shaxon’s formal complaint – 3 April 2012

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 11 April 2012

3                 Ms Shaxon’s referral to the Authority – 25 April 2012

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 4 May 2012