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Group Against Liquor Advertising and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1997-011

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • A Martin
Dated
Complainant
  • Group against Liquor Advertising (GALA)
Number
1997-011
Channel/Station
TV2
Standards Breached


Summary

Advertisements for liquor products were broadcast consecutively during a commercial

break on TV2 at about 11.05pm on 8 November 1996.

Mr Cliff Turner, Complaints Secretary for GALA, complained to Television New

Zealand Ltd that the broadcast of consecutive liquor advertisements breached the

programme standards.

Acknowledging that the commercials for liquor products had been broadcast

consecutively, TVNZ upheld the complaint. Explaining that the contravention was a

result of human error, TVNZ emphasised that the breach only occurred in TV2's

Hamilton viewing area. It apologised, and reported that staff had been reminded

strongly of their responsibilities.

Dissatisfied with the action taken in view of previous similar breaches, on GALA's

behalf Mr Turner 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 that the action taken was

insufficient and orders TVNZ to pay costs of $500.


Decision

The members of the Authority have read the correspondence (summarised in the

Appendix). As the sequence of commercials complained about occurred during a

regional break for commercials, TVNZ has not been able to supply a tape. However,

TVNZ has not contested the complainant's summary of the facts. As is its practice, the

Authority has determined the complaint without a formal hearing.

Advertisements for liquor products – Amarula Cream and Lion Red beer – were

broadcast consecutively during a commercial break on TV2 at 11.05pm on 8 November

1996 which was broadcast in the Waikato region. The Waikato region is one of six

TV2 areas which break out for regional commercials.

Cliff Turner, GALA's Complaints Secretary, complained to TVNZ that the broadcast of

consecutive advertisements for liquor products breached standard A1 of the Television

Code of Broadcasting Practice. It reads:

A1  Saturation of Liquor Promotion, separately, or in combination, must be

avoided.


Acknowledging the precedents which rule that the broadcast of consecutive liquor

advertisements amount to a breach of this standard, TVNZ upheld the complaint.

Because the broadcast of consecutive liquor advertisements has been raised successfully

in earlier complaints, TVNZ expressed embarrassment at the breach on this occasion. It

said that the breach only occurred in the Waikato region where the audience survey

figures suggested that there were only 12,500 viewers at the time.

TVNZ explained the process by which four people checked the scheduling for

advertisements and reported: "This was human error pure and simple".

Acknowledging that similar breaches had occurred in the past, it wrote:

We do not know what we can do to overcome human error. Once again the

message has been delivered strongly and forcefully that scheduling mistakes of

this sort are not acceptable and breach TVNZ's statutory standards obligations.


On GALA's behalf, Mr Turner referred the complaint to the Authority. He argued that

as this was the third occasion that TVNZ had upheld a similar complaint, a penalty

should be imposed on TVNZ.


The Authority agrees with GALA that the repeated contravention of the standard in itself

is sufficient to justify the imposition of a penalty. It does not consider that the small

number of viewers is relevant to the decision to impose a penalty, although it is of

some, albeit limited, relevance to the extent of the penalty.

By the Broadcasting Amendment Act 1996, the Authority was given the power to order

a broadcaster to pay costs to the Crown of up to $5,000. Given the history of similar

complaints, the Authority decides that an order for costs of $500 is appropriate.

 

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

action taken by Television New Zealand Ltd, having upheld the

complaint about the saturation of liquor promotion of TV2 on 8

November 1996, is insufficient.


Order

Pursuant to s.16(4) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 (as amended in 1996),

the Authority orders Television New Zealand Ltd to pay $500 to the

Crown by way of costs within one month of the date of this decision.


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judith Potter
Chairperson
13 February 1997

Appendix


GALA's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 25 November 1996

Cliff Turner, GALA's Complaints Secretary, complained to Television New Zealand

Ltd that two liquor advertisements were screened consecutively by TV2 at about

11.05pm on 8 November 1996. That, he wrote, appeared to breach the programme

standards.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint – 17 December 1996

Assessing the complaint under standard A1 of the Television Code of Broadcasting

Practice, TVNZ acknowledged that two advertisements for liquor products were

broadcast consecutively at the nominated time. Accordingly, it upheld the complaint.

TVNZ continued:

TVNZ is genuinely embarrassed by this occurrence and more than a little

frustrated by it. We can offer you some comfort in that the advertisements

broadcast back to back were seen by a small minority of the viewing audience.

The two advertisements were seen juxtaposed only in the Hamilton viewing area

and at that hour of the night the audience survey figures suggest only 12,800

people were exposed to it – 0.41 per cent of the population.


Explaining the checking process in relation to the scheduling of commercials in which

four people were involved, TVNZ added:

This was human error pure and simple. We acknowledge we have similarly erred

in the past but suggest that our record in avoiding consecutive liquor commercials

is on the whole of a high standard. We can report that in the four months leading

up to this incident TVNZ broadcast 1,262 commercial breaks which included

liquor advertising - all of them (as far as we know) completed without running

alcohol commercials back to back.


We do not know what we can do to overcome human error. Once again the

message has been delivered strongly and forcefully that scheduling mistakes of

this sort are not acceptable and breach TVNZ's statutory standards obligations.

We thank you for drawing this matter to TVNZ's attention, and we apologise for

the breach in standards.


GALA's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 19 December
1996

Dissatisfied with the extent of the action taken, Mr Turner on GALA's behalf referred

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

Broadcasting Act 1989.

Pointing out that it was the third occasion that TVNZ had upheld a complaint of this

kind, Mr Turner argued that a deterrent penalty was appropriate.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority – 9 January 1997

Advising the Authority that it had acknowledged an error, TVNZ emphasised that the

consecutive advertisements were shown only in TV2's Waikato region. The three

minute commercial break, it noted, included a 30 second advertisement for Amarula

Cream followed by a 60 second commercial for Lion Red Beer.

GALA's Final Comment – 21 January 1997

On GALA's behalf, Mr Turner said that it did not want to comment further.