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McDonald and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2006-003

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa
  • Diane Musgrave

Complainant

  • Donald McDonald of Wellington

Dated

21st March 2006

Number

2006-003

Programme

Close Up

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Close Up – interview with a woman who had witnessed a fatal stabbing in Auckland – presenter said “that woman told us she was off home now to have a stiff brandy – as you would do. Have two” – allegedly in breach of liquor standard

Findings
Standard 11 (liquor) – comment did not amount to liquor promotion – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] An episode of Close Up, broadcast on TV One at 7pm on 28 November 2005, included an interview with a woman who had witnessed a fatal stabbing in Auckland. At the end of the item, the programme’s presenter said:

That woman told us she was off home now to have a stiff brandy, as you would do. Have two.

Complaint

[2] Donald McDonald complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the presenter’s comment amounted to the “gratuitous promotion of alcohol”.

Standards

[3] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 11 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

Standard 11 Liquor

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters must observe restrictions on the promotion of liquor appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast. Liquor Promotion should be socially responsible and must not encourage consumption by people who are under the legal age to purchase liquor.

Definition

Liquor Promotion comprises:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet [‘promotion’]
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme [‘sponsorship’]
  • advocacy of liquor consumption [‘advocacy’]

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] TVNZ stated that the single reference to brandy, without a sales message or reference to a brand name, did not amount to incidental promotion of liquor. It contended that the only phrase at issue seemed to be “as you would do”, which could carry an implication that everyone experiencing similar trauma might reach for a glass of brandy.

[5] Given that brandy was frequently given to people who had experienced sudden shocks, the broadcaster said, the phrase did not promote the immoderate consumption of alcohol. To have a “stiff brandy” was almost a colloquial cliché, it noted, and the observation “as you would do” implied no more than a recognition of what the woman had experienced.

[6] TVNZ concluded that Standard 11 was not breached.

Referral to the Authority

[7] Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr McDonald referred his complaint to the Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[8] TVNZ observed that the remark complained about was a direct quote from the woman who had witnessed the stabbing, not the presenter suggesting that the woman should go and have a drink. The woman said this was what she intended to do, and the presenter had responded with appropriate compassion and understanding.

Authority's Determination

[9] 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.

[10] In determining whether the presenter’s remark amounted to “liquor promotion” in the context of Standard 11, the Authority has considered whether her comment amounted to the “promotion of a liquor product” or the “advocacy of liquor consumption”.

[11] The Authority finds that the comment did not amount to the “promotion of a liquor product”. It accepts TVNZ’s submission that to have a “stiff brandy” is a colloquial cliché because brandy has traditionally been given as a laypersons’ remedy to people suffering shock.

[12] The Authority also finds that the presenter did not advocate liquor consumption. She did not suggest that the woman should go home and have a brandy. Rather, the presenter was simply repeating the woman’s comment about what she was going to do. Her additional comment that the woman should “have two” was an acknowledgment that the woman’s response was understandable in light of the traumatic event she had just witnessed.

[13] Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the presenter’s remark did not amount to “liquor promotion” under Standard 11, and it finds that the standard was not breached.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
21 March 2006

Appendix

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

  1.    Donald McDonald’s formal complaint – 1 December 2005
  2.    TVNZ’s decision on the formal complaint – 13 December 2005
  3.    Mr McDonald’s referral to the Authority – 30 December 2005
  4.    TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 24 January 2006