BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Cooper and SKY Network Television Ltd - 2009-034

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Paul France
  • Tapu Misa
  • Adrian Cooper
Prime TV

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
True Stories Uncut: Tantastic – contained shots of naked man – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – footage was not titillating or salacious – contextual factors – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   A documentary titled True Stories Uncut: Tantastic was broadcast on Prime Television at 9.35pm on Friday 30 January 2009. The programme spoke to a number of people, described as “tanorexics”, who were obsessed with tanning, either naturally or through the use of sun beds or spray tans in salons.

[2]   At approximately 9.55pm, the programme featured a middle-aged man who liked to sunbathe naked. He was shown undressing then lying naked in his backyard, mowing the lawns naked, and then walking down a beach naked. Later, the programme discussed “tanning parties”, and a number of young women were shown receiving spray tans in a private home. For the most part they were topless and wearing disposable underwear, though there was a brief shot of a naked woman.

[3]   The following visual and verbal warning preceded the programme:

This programme is rated Adults Only. It contains coarse language and nudity that may offend some people.


[4]   Adrian Cooper made a formal complaint to SKY Network Television Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the shots in the programme of a middle-aged man “naked in his garden and also on the beach with his genital organs clearly displayed” breached standards of good taste and decency despite the pre-broadcast warning and AO classification. He asserted that the young women featured in the programme were not shown entirely naked, which he considered demonstrated inconsistency. He said that “why the viewer should be expected to care about private parts being tanned was not made clear”.


[5]   SKY assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6]   SKY noted that the programme had an Adults Only classification, screened at 9.35pm, and was preceded by a visual and verbal warning. The programme was described as “providing an insight into tanorexia and the mentality of those gambling with their lives for a bronze body”, it said, and was one of a series of BBC documentaries illustrating obsessive and extraordinary behaviour.

[7]   SKY considered that, in the context of a factual documentary, the scenes complained about were not gratuitous, nor were they provocative or unnatural. It reiterated that viewers were alerted to the nature of the content by the warning that preceded the programme. SKY therefore declined to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[8]   Dissatisfied with SKY’s response, Mr Cooper referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated his belief that SKY had failed to maintain standards consistent with the observance of good taste and decency. Mr Cooper considered “the ‘Adults Only’ warning was used to excuse excess” and the programme was not suitable viewing.

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]   When the Authority considers an alleged breach of good taste and decency, it is required to take into account the context of the broadcast. On this occasion, the contextual factors which are relevant include:

  • True Stories Uncut was a documentary programme
  • the time of broadcast, at 9.35pm
  • the Adults Only classification of the programme
  • the programme was preceded by a warning for coarse language and nudity that may offend.

[11]   In the Authority’s view, the footage of a man sunbathing naked was not titillating or salacious. The inclusion of nudity in the programme was well signposted, both by the pre-broadcast warning, and by the documentary’s narrator, who said that he “never goes near a spray tan. He wants an all-over tan, as nature intended”. The man was then shown gradually undressing, which would have given viewers plenty of time to react if they did not wish to view the segment. The Authority considers that in this context, showing the man sunbathing naked was not gratuitous or unexpected.

[12]   Taking into account the above contextual factors, particularly that the programme was classified Adults Only, screened at 9.35pm, and preceded by a warning for nudity that may offend, the Authority concludes that the footage did not breach Standard 1. It declines to uphold the complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
10 June 2009


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

1.         Adrian Cooper’s formal complaint – 1 February 2009
2.         SKY’s response to the complaint – 13 March 2009
3.         Mr Cooper’s referral to the Authority – 27 March 2009
4.         SKY’s response to the Authority – 6 April 2009