BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Tonizzo and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2012-024

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Patrick Tonizzo
Number
2012-024
Programme
Rude Tube
Channel/Station
TVNZ U

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Rude Tube – series featured viral video clips from the internet – “Animal Madness” episode included a clip of a man taking “an unscheduled toilet break” in a paddock, and being chased by a donkey apparently attempting to mate with him – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, law and order, and violence standards

Findings
Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – most viewers would not have been offended – not upheld

Standard 2 (law and order) – broadcast did not encourage viewers to break the law or promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity – not upheld

Standard 10 (violence) – footage did not amount to “violence” as envisaged by the standard – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


Introduction

[1]  An episode of Rude Tube, a programme showcasing a selection of viral videos from the internet, was broadcast on TVNZ U at 11pm on 9 February 2012. This episode was titled “Animal Madness”, and introduced as “twenty virals bringing you fun, disturbing and naughty hits from the animal kingdom, arranged in order of their popularity”. One clip showed a man taking “an unscheduled toilet break” in a paddock, and being chased by a donkey arguably attempting to mate with him.

[2]  The programme was preceded by the following verbal and visual warning:

This programme is rated Adults Only. It contains scenes that may offend some people.

[3]  Patrick Tonizzo made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that “an actual violent crime was shown for entertainment” and that “a man was in a paddock against his will, there he was attacked and sexually violated by a donkey”.

[4]  The issue is whether the episode breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 2 (law and order) and 10 (violence) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  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 broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?

[6]  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

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

  • Rude Tube was classified Adults Only
  • it was broadcast on TVNZ U
  • it was broadcast at 11pm more than two hours after the AO watershed
  • the episode was preceded by a visual and verbal warning for “scenes that may offend some people”
  • the nature of the programme (a humorous series showcasing viral videos from the internet)
  • TVNZ U’s target audience
  • audience expectations.

[8]  TVNZ noted that the programme was classified AO and broadcast at 11pm, when viewers might expect some degree of stronger material. The programme was also preceded by a warning for content that may offend. TVNZ considered that the content in this episode was consistent with viewer expectations of both Rude Tube, and of TVNZ U, which was aimed at younger adult audiences. TVNZ maintained that there was no suggestion the man in the clip was held in the paddock against his will, and noted that while the donkey landed on top of the man it did not show him being “sexually assaulted”. The clip was not violent or sexually violent, it said. It also noted that the clip was taken from the internet and had been viewed by a large number of people online. TVNZ concluded that the clip would not have offended most viewers in this context, and declined to uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

[9]  There are a number of factors that favour the broadcaster’s position, in particular the very late time of broadcast, the programme’s AO classification, the pre-broadcast warning, and the show’s humorous intent. We are satisfied that the scene would not have offended most viewers when broadcast in this context, and that it did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency.

[10]  We therefore decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 1.

Did the broadcast encourage viewers to break the law or condone criminal activity?

[11]  The intent behind the law and order standard is to prevent broadcasts that encourage listeners to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.3 The standard exists to ensure that broadcasters refrain from broadcasting material which does not respect the laws which sustain our society.4

[12]  TVNZ maintained that the clip did not glamorise or condone the actions of criminals. It said, “There is no suggestion that the man is attacking or hurting the donkey, and no breach of law occurs when an animal attacks a human.” It also denied that the man was trapped or detained in the paddock as suggested by the complainant; viewers were informed that the man went into the paddock to go to the toilet, it said.

[13]  The footage showed a man being chased by a donkey while going for a toilet stop in a paddock. It was part of a line-up of viral videos from the internet, which was designed to entertain and to be humorous. The programme’s adult target audience would have understood this, and we agree with the broadcaster that the footage did not show any illegal activity, or encourage viewers to break the law.

[14]  We therefore decline to uphold the complaint that the broadcast breached Standard 2.

Did the broadcast breach the violence standard?

[15]  Standard 10 states that broadcasters should exercise care and discretion when dealing with the issue of violence. The violence standard exists to ensure that broadcasters use care and discretion to exclude unsuitable violent material and to promote the use of warnings where necessary to protect viewers – particularly child viewers.5

[16]  TVNZ argued that “being chased by an amorous animal is not a ‘violent crime’”. No violent or indecent footage was shown, it said, and while the content was “adult” in nature it was appropriately classified and preceded by a warning. It reiterated its view that the man was not “sexually assaulted”. TVNZ concluded that adequate care and discretion had been taken in the screening of the footage.

[17]  In our view, the footage of a donkey chasing a man who was trying to go to the toilet did not amount to “violence” as envisaged by the standard.6 The broadcaster exercised adequate care in classifying the programme AO, screening it at 11pm, and broadcasting a warning for scenes that may offend.

[18]  For these reasons, we decline to uphold the violence complaint.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
8 June 2012

Appendix

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

1                  Patrick Tonizzo’s formal complaint – 10 February 2012

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 2 March 2012

3                 Mr Tonizzo’s referral to the Authority – 2 March 2012

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 April 2012


1Turner and TVNZ, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November, 2006)

3See, for example, Keane and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-082

4Hunt and Māori Television, Decision No. 2009-010

5Knight and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2008-137

6For examples of what does amount to “violence”, see the Authority’s Practice Note: Exercising Care and Discretion in Relation to the Portrayal of Violence (April 2008).