BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Barrett and TVWorks Ltd - 2011-161

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Kaye Barrett
Date My Ex
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 # 3

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Date My Ex – reality series broadcast at 3pm contained footage of people drinking alcohol – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency, responsible programming, liquor and children’s interests standards

Standard 11 (liquor) – presence of liquor in the programme was extremely brief and alcohol consumption was not glamorised – content did not amount to liquor promotion – not upheld

Standard 8 (responsible programming) – programme correctly rated PGR – did not contain any material which warranted a higher rating of AO – not upheld

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – programme’s content would not have offended the majority of viewers – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]  An episode of a reality television series, Date My Ex, was broadcast on TV3 at 3pm on 30 November 2011. The episode contained brief footage of two people drinking shots of vodka, a man drinking a cocktail in one mouthful, and a man being held down on a couch and having liquor poured in his mouth by two more men.

[2]  Kaye Barrett made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the programme showed “drinking of alcohol, making it look like it’s a game”, and showed people playing poker in breach of standards relating to good taste and decency, responsible programming, and liquor.

[3]  Ms Barrett raised children’s interests in her referral, and in her original complaint stated that she considered the programme to be “completely inappropriate for children”. TVWorks did not consider the complaint in relation to children’s interests. We have considered it for the sake of completeness.

[4]  The issue is whether the programme breached Standards 1 (good taste and decency), 8 (responsible programming), 9 (children’s interests) and 11 (liquor) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  We have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the programme contain liquor promotion that was socially irresponsible?

[6]  There is a two-stage test involved in determining whether there has been a breach of Standard 11. We must first decide whether the broadcast constituted “liquor promotion” and, if it did, we must then consider whether the liquor promotion was socially responsible. Looking at the first limb of the test, we note that Standard 11 defines “liquor promotion” as:

  • promotion of a liquor product, brand or outlet (‘promotion’)
  • liquor sponsorship of a programme (‘sponsorship’)
  • advocacy of liquor consumption (‘advocacy’).

[7]  TVWorks accepted that the programme contained liquor consumption but argued that it was “a normal part of dating and adult social interaction”. It did not consider that the programme contained liquor promotion or advocated excessive consumption. The broadcaster noted that one man drank excessively, but argued that he was portrayed as a fool rather than a hero, and as “someone who had lost self control, which in our view offered an implicit anti-excess message”.

[8]  We note that in the one-hour programme, there were only three extremely brief instances in which people were shown drinking alcohol. In each instance, the alcohol consumption was not glamorised but rather clearly disapproved of by the people in the programme. In the first scenario, a Russian man was on a date with a woman, and encouraged her to drink shots of vodka as part of their meal. The other people in the programme sniggered that he was using “tradition” as an excuse to get her drunk. In the two other segments, one of the contestants became extremely intoxicated, and while he was assisted at one point by other men pouring liquor into his mouth, the negative effects of his consumption were depicted when he vomited on the floor and made a fool of himself; the others in the house were clearly unimpressed.

[9]  We are satisfied that these short segments did not advocate liquor consumption or amount to liquor promotion.

[10]  In any event, we do not consider that the presence of liquor in the programme was socially irresponsible, for the reasons outlined in paragraph [8]. Liquor consumption did not dominate the programme, it was evident that the other programme participants were not endorsing excessive consumption, and the negative effects of that consumption were made clear.

[11]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that Standard 11 (liquor) was breached.

Was the programme correctly classified and broadcast in an appropriate timeslot?

[12]  Standard 8 (responsible programming) requires broadcasters to ensure that programmes are correctly classified and adhere to the time-bands set out in the Code. Date My Ex was classified PGR and was broadcast at 3pm.

[13]  TVWorks maintained that the programme was correctly rated PGR, and screened during the PGR time-band. It considered that the programme did not contain any material likely to alarm or distress children, and argued that the programme was targeted at adults and that children were more likely to watch programmes directed at them on other channels.

[14]  The PGR classification is defined as follows:

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.

PGR programmes may be screened between 9am and 4pm, and after 7pm until 6am.

[15]  The programme’s content overall, in our view, was relatively tame and inoffensive. With regard to the complainant’s objection to the programme participants playing poker, we agree with the broadcaster that it was not clear that they were playing poker, and we note the reference to card games was extremely brief. 

[16]  We do not consider that the concept of the programme or any of the footage would have been unsuitable for supervised child viewers, or warranted a higher classification of Adults Only.

[17]  We therefore find that the programme was correctly rated PGR and screened in an appropriate timeslot in accordance with the definition in Appendix 1. We decline to uphold the complaint under Standard 8.

Was the programme consistent with current norms of good taste and decency?

[18]  When we consider an alleged breach of good taste and decency, we take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the relevant contextual factors include:

  • Date My Ex was broadcast at 3pm during children’s normally accepted viewing times
  • the programme was classified PGR
  • the programme’s adult target audience
  • the programme was not preceded by a warning.

[19]  Ms Barrett argued that the programme was “shallow”, “completely trash TV”, “lame” and “completely inappropriate for children”. TVWorks maintained that the programme was correctly rated PGR and that unsupervised young children were more likely to watch programmes targeted at them on other channels. The programme did not contain any strong language, violence or sexual material, it said, or anything likely to disturb or alarm children.

[20]  While we understand that some people might object to the programme’s premise or genre, that is a matter of personal preference rather than an issue of broadcasting standards, and cannot be resolved by this complaints process. As we have said under Standard 8 above, we are satisfied that the programme’s content was relatively innocuous and not unsuitable for children under the guidance of an adult.

[21]  Taking an objective view and considering the contextual factors outlined above, we do not consider that most viewers would have been offended by the programme, or that it threatened current norms of good taste and decency. We therefore decline to uphold this part of the complaint.

Did the broadcaster adequately consider the interests of child viewers?

[22]  Ms Barrett nominated Standard 9 in her referral, but did not raise it explicitly in her original complaint. In her original complaint, she argued that the programme was “inappropriate for children”. TVWorks addressed the complaint only under Standards 1, 8 and 11.

[23]  For the sake of completeness, we will address Standard 9 (children’s interests). For the reasons outlined in relation to Standards 11, 8 and 1 above, we are satisfied that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests when broadcasting Date My Ex at 3pm. We therefore find that the programme did not breach Standard 9.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
28 February 2012


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

1                  Kaye Barrett’s formal complaint – 30 November 2011

2                 TVWorks’ response to the complaint – 1 December 2011

3                 Ms Barrett’s referral to the Authority – 1 December 2011

4                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 9 December 2011