BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Group Against Liquor Advertising and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1996-074

  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • A Martin
  • Group against Liquor Advertising (GALA)
Standards Breached


Two liquor advertisements, one of 90 seconds in duration and the other of 30 seconds,

were broadcast in a commercial break on TV2 at about 9.20pm on 25 April 1996 during

the screening of X-Files.

On behalf of GALA, Dr Viola Palmer complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that 2

minutes of liquor advertisements in a break of 3 minutes 20 seconds amounted to

saturation of liquor promotion in contravention of the standards.

Pointing out that the commercial break comprised six commercials and two programme

trailers and lasted 3 minutes 45 seconds in total, TVNZ denied that two liquor

advertisements amounted to saturation.

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, Dr Palmer on GALA's behalf referred the complaint

to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons below, the Authority upholds the complaint.


The members of the Authority have viewed the commercial break complained about and

have read the correspondence (summarised in the Appendix). As is its practice, the

Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Dr Viola Palmer of GALA complained to TVNZ about the contents of a commercial

break broadcast on TV2 at about 9.20pm on 25 April 1996. She maintained that as two

liquor advertisements included in the break amounted to 120 seconds of a 200 second-

long break, it involved the saturation of liquor promotion.

TVNZ assessed the complaint under the nominated standard. Standard A1 of the

Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor reads:

A1 Saturation of liquor promotions, separately or in combination, must be


Acknowledging that the commercial break contained two liquor commercials which

totalled 120 seconds, TVNZ pointed out that the break was 225 seconds in length taking

two promos into account. The first liquor commercial, it noted, was 30 seconds long

and the second was a 90 second spot. Explaining that the break contained four other

commercials and two programme trailers, TVNZ did not accept that in that context the

amount of liquor advertising contravened the saturation prohibition.

In its assessment of the complaint, the Authority refers to Decision No: 156/93 (dated

18.11.93). On that occasion, it upheld a complaint from GOAL that two liquor

advertisements which totalled 90 seconds in a commercial break of 165 seconds

duration constituted saturation in contravention of standard A1 (as it was then written).

It reached that conclusion following Decision Nos: 141/93–143/93 (dated 4.11.93)

when it upheld a complaint that four liquor advertisements (out of seven in total) which

amounted to 90 seconds, or one half, of a three minute break constituted saturation.

Although these earlier decisions have focussed on some specific quantitative matters –

either the number of commercials in a break or the proportion of the break which

involved liquor advertisements – the Authority stresses that standard A1 does not deal

solely with quantitative measures. The number, and the duration, of the liquor

commercials are an indication but, in the final instance, the standard is contravened only

when the commercial break gives the impression of saturation of liquor promotions.

The Authority approaches the present complaint on that basis. It also notes that an

impression of saturation may be minimised, or magnified, should liquor promotions

feature irregularly, or regularly, in successive commercial breaks. However, on this

occasion, it is dealing with one commercial break.. Taking into account the quantitative

criteria, first, it notes that there were only two liquor commercials but that they

comprised more than half the duration of the length of the break. Secondly, the

Authority observes that the liquor commercial of 90 seconds duration could not be

described as being of the "hard sell variety". Nevertheless, the length in itself -

especially in comparison with the relative brevity of the other commercials - meant that it

tended to dominate the break.

Finally, focussing on the qualitative criterion – the impression – left by the broadcast of

the entire commercial break, the Authority concludes that on this occasion the break left

an impression of saturation in contravention of standard A1.


For the above reasons, the Authority upholds the complaint that the

broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd of an advertising break on

TV2 at about 9.20pm on 25 April 1995 breached standard A1 of the

Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.

Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may impose an order under s.13(1) of the

Broadcasting Act. Although the complaint was upheld, the Authority does not consider

the breach to be a blatant contravention of the standards. In these circumstances, it does

not consider an order appropriate.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Judith Potter
18 July 1996


GALA's Complaint to Television New Zealand Limited - 2 May 1996

Dr Viola Palmer, Chairperson of the Group Against Liquor Advertising (GALA),

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about the amount of liquor advertising

broadcast in one commercial break on TV2 on 25 April 1996 during the screening of X-


At about 9.20pm, she wrote, advertisements for DB Export and Steinlager occupied 2

minutes of a commercial break of 3 minutes 20 seconds. As a commercial break was

accepted as a viewing period, Dr Palmer argued that the two advertisements, which

comprised 60% of the break, amounted to a breach of the standard prohibiting the

saturation of liquor promotions.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 20 May 1996

Assessing the complaint under standard A1 of the Programme Standards, TVNZ

acknowledged that the two liquor advertisements screened amounted to two minutes

in duration. It expressed surprise at the complaint, pointing out that it had consistently

taken the position that "the total duration of liquor advertisements within a break must

not be more than 120 seconds".

TVNZ also disagreed that the commercial break was 3 minutes 20 seconds in duration,

observing that promos were broadcast at the beginning and end of the break which thus

amounted, in total, to 3 minutes 45 seconds.

Pointing out that the contents of commercial breaks could vary by region, TVNZ said

that the one it was using for the purposes of assessing the complaint had included two

liquor advertisements, four other commercials and two programme trailers. It


TVNZ does not believe that in this context the amount of liquor advertising

amounted to a saturation of liquor promotions.

GALA's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 25 May


Dissatisfied that TVNZ had not upheld the complaint, Dr Palmer on GALA's behalf

referred it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting

Act 1989.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 31 May 1996

As GALA had not elaborated on its complaint in the referral, TVNZ said it did not want

to comment further.