BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Simon and TVWorks Ltd - 2011-166

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Jonathan Simon
3 News
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – item about launch of Green Party election campaign contained brief, out-of-focus background image of a person’s “butt crack” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, privacy and fairness standards

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) and Standard 6 (fairness) – complaint frivolous and trivial – decline to determine under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


[1]  An item on 3 News, broadcast on TV3 at 6pm on 6 November 2011, reported on the launch of the Green Party’s election campaign. Green Party co-leader Russell Norman was shown addressing the attendees at the launch from a stage, and the camera panned down to focus on a baby in a pram. In the background of the shot of the baby, a person’s “butt crack” was briefly visible.

[2]  Jonathan Simon made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the “showing, in common parlance, of ‘a butt crack’” breached standards relating to good taste and decency, privacy and fairness. Specifically, he referred to “the humiliation of individuals”. Mr Simon did not refer the privacy aspect of his complaint to this Authority.

[3]  The issue therefore is whether the footage breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency) and 6 (fairness) 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 image breach broadcasting standards?

[5]  The image subject to complaint was extremely brief, out of focus, and therefore very difficult to discern. We doubt that the majority of viewers would have picked up on the image, and in fact, we think it unlikely that the camera crew responsible for obtaining the footage, or those responsible for editing together the item – whose focus was on the child in the pram – would have noticed what was in the background. We are satisfied that most viewers – if they saw the image – would not have been offended, and that the incidental inclusion of the image could not be said to have resulted in anyone in the item being treated unfairly.

[6]  In this context, we find that the complaint does not raise any issues of broadcasting standards of a level which warrants our consideration. Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 allows the Authority to decline to determine a complaint which it considers to be frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. We therefore decline to determine Mr Simon’s complaint on the grounds that it was frivolous and trivial.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
27 March 2012


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

1                  Jonathan Simon’s formal complaint – 6 November 2011

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 24 November 2011

3                 Mr Simon’s referral to the Authority – 3 December 2011

4                 TVWorks’ responses to the Authority – 16 December  2011 and 13 January 2012

5                 Mr Simon’s final comment – 28 January 2012