BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1994-024

Members
  • I W Gallaway (Chair)
  • R A Barraclough
  • L M Dawson
  • J R Morris
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1994-024
Programme
One Network News
Channel/Station
TV One
Standards Breached


Summary

The New Zealand cricket team was shown practising during an item of sports news

broadcast on One Network News between 6.00–6.30pm on 9 February 1994.

The Secretary of the Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL), Mr Turner,

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about the large brewery logos which were seen

during the item on the front and back of the t-shirts worn by the players. He argued that

the extent of the logos gave the impression of saturation of incidental liquor promotion in

contravention of standard 1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Sports Code and, as a breach of that

provision, it transgressed standard A3.d of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of

Liquor.

Explaining that the clothing was worn by the players in a situation over which it had no

control and that it did not accept as credible a complaint that it should not broadcast the

visuals of a significant news item because of the logos, TVNZ declined to uphold the

complaint. It also argued that the item did not give the impression of liquor promotion.

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, GOAL referred the complaint to the Broadcasting

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

For the reasons given below, the Authority upheld the complaint.


Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed the item complained about and have read the

correspondence (summarised in the Appendix). As is its practice, the Authority has

determined the complaints without a formal hearing.

Mr Cliff Turner, GOAL's secretary, complained to TVNZ that an item of sports news

included on One Network News on 9 February breached standard 1.3.2.(c) of the

Voluntary Sports Code. As broadcasters are required by standard A3.d of the Programme

Standards for the Promotion of Liquor not to broadcast anything which is in breach of

section 1 of the Voluntary Code, he maintained that the broadcast contravened the

broadcasting standards.

TVNZ explained that the item showed both the New Zealand and Pakistan cricket players

practising before the start of the series and, in particular, reported the concern raised by

the injury to New Zealand's main strike bowler.

Pointing out that it was almost impossible to show a bowler practising when seen only

from the neck up and that the players wore practice apparel in a situation over which the

broadcaster had no control, TVNZ maintained that, as required by the overriding principle

in standard A3, it had minimised liquor promotion to the extent possible. It added in its

report to Mr Turner:

The [Complaints] Committee did not believe that you could argue credibly that a

news item of this significance should be dropped because it was not possible to

exclude from vision some of the sponsorship logos displayed by the players. It

believes the clause recognising that broadcasters sometimes have little control was

applicable in this situation.

When he referred the complaint to the Authority, Mr Turner maintained that standard

1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Code had been breached. He did not accept that a footnote to

standard A.3 was applicable. TVNZ, he continued, could not excuse itself under the "lack-

of-control" argument as its option was not to broadcast the item.

In response, TVNZ insisted first that every effort had been made to minimise the incidental

promotion of liquor and, secondly, that the logos seen had not given the impression of

saturation.

Although this is the first occasion that GOAL and TVNZ have debated in detail the

applicability of standard 1.3.2(c), it is a matter which has recently been addressed by the

Authority in Decision No: 23/94 which, at the time the correspondence was exchanged on

this complaint, unfortunately, had not been released.

Standard A3 of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor provides:

A3  Broadcasters will ensure that the incidental promotion of liquor is

minimised and in particular:

a. Will not be a party to any contract or arrangement where incidental

liquor promotion is a contrived part of the programme

b. Will ensure that backdrops and props for any in-house studio

programme do not carry liquor promotions (not applicable to radio)

c. Will not unduly focus in a live or on-location event on any

particular advertising signage, logo or any other sound or visual

effect which promotes liquor

d. Will not broadcast anything which is in breach of section 1, relating

to incidental promotion and saturation, of the Voluntary Sports

Code for Liquor Advertising and Promotion of Television.


It is recognised that incidental liquor promotion occurs from time to time in

programmes where broadcasters have little or no control over the situation. In

those situations they must minimise the exposure to the best of their ability. Where

broadcasters have control of the situation, they will ensure that the standards

regarding incidental promotion are followed in the spirit as well as the letter.


Section 1.3 of the Voluntary Code is entitled Official Team Apparel and begins:

Note: The following clauses re competition, practice and casual apparel refer to the

clothing provided as part of the team issue (referred to hereafter as official team

apparel) and not to the personal clothing of the athlete.


Standard 1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Sports Code reads:

1.3.2 Sponsors' logos as defined in international and national rules are

permitted in certain areas provided that: –

(a) Sponsors comply with all internationally and nationally

determined rules regarding size of logos;

(b) Such logos form a genuine part of the competition wear; and

(c) Sponsors and sporting organisations take all reasonable steps

to ensure that logo exposure on apparel avoids the impression

of saturation.


In decision No: 23/94, the Authority wrote:

The purpose of this standard is abundantly clear. It accepts sponsors' logos provided

certain requirements are met and that they avoid the impression of saturation.


The Authority then considered the meaning of the requirement in clause (c) to

"take all reasonable steps" to avoid "the impression of saturation".

In its introduction, the Voluntary Code imports the definition of "saturation"

contained in the Broadcasting Standards Authority's Programme Standards for the

Promotion of Liquor which reads:

"Saturation" refers to a degree of exposure which gives the impression

that liquor promotion is dominating that viewing or listening period.


However, because the Voluntary Code and the Broadcasting Standards Authority's

Programme Standards are designed for different purposes, the Authority believed

that the Programme Standards's definition of saturation was inappropriate. The

Programme Standards have been prepared in consultation with broadcasters and

are concerned with matters which are broadcast. The Voluntary Code has been

prepared by the New Zealand Sports Assembly and contains instructions with

which sporting groups must comply in situations where players are likely to be seen

on television.


To explain further, whereas the Programme Standards are concerned with

saturation during "a viewing period", the Voluntary Code is concerned with the

clothing worn by the players. This interpretation conforms with the requirements

in Voluntary Code standards 1.3.3, 1.3.4 and 1.3.5 which deal specifically with

logos on apparel. Pursuant to the approach, it is apparent that standard 1.3.2(c)

requires sporting organisations and sponsors to take "all reasonable steps" to ensure

that "logos on apparel" (emphasis added) avoid giving the "impression of

saturation".

By concluding that the Voluntary Sports Code applies to clothing, the Authority

acknowledges that standard A3.d puts broadcasters in the position of acting as

Voluntary Code enforcers. It is a role which they could well find unacceptable.

However, the sporting bodies have prepared the Voluntary Code and must take the

utmost care to comply with the self-imposed restraints. The Authority regarded the

particular clothing complained about on this occasion as a breach of the spirit as

well as the letter of the Code.


With regard to this complaint about the logos on the practice apparel worn by the

New Zealand cricket players, the Authority did not contest TVNZ's assertion that it

did its best to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor when it showed the

members of the cricket team in practice gear. It also agreed with TVNZ that the

situations relating to the earlier rugby players complaint and this one were quite

different. However, when the size of the logos on practice clothing is so large as to

dominate the apparel totally in any broadcast, and highly visible, the broadcast has

clearly breached standard 1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Sports Code. In addition, the

impression of saturation of the clothing was reinforced in this broadcast by the

number and frequency of the displays of the logo. Accordingly, the Authority

concluded that the broadcast of the news item of the New Zealand cricket team at

practice contravened standard 1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Code and, consequently,

standard A3.d of the Programme Standards.


A distinction between the above decision and the current one could be drawn because on

this occasion the visuals portraying the cricketers wearing logo-adorned practice clothing

were relatively infrequent. As noted in the extract quoted above, they appeared frequently

during the broadcast about which that decision was written. However, although the

quantity of appearances was less frequent on this occasion, the size of the logo on the

clothing was the same and, consequently, the Authority reached a similar decision and

decided that the broadcast gave the impression of saturation in contravention of standard

1.3.2(c).

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

the broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd of a sports item on One

Network News on 9 February 1994 breached standard 1.3.2(c) of the

Voluntary Sports Code and, consequently, breached standard A3.d of the

Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.


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

Broadcasting Act 1989. As this is the second occasion in which it has applied standard

1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Code and as the first decision had not been received when this

complaint was lodged, it considers it would be inappropriate to do so. The Authority has

been assured recently that the practice apparel worn by the players in the New Zealand

cricket team will not carry logos of a similar size in the future.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Iain Gallaway
Chairperson
5 May 1994


Appendix

GOAL's Complaint to Television New Zealand Limited

In a letter dated 9 February 1994, Mr Cliff Turner, the secretary of the Group Opposed to

Advertising of Liquor (GOAL), complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about an item of

sports news broadcast on One Network News at about 6.25pm that evening.

The item, he said, showed cricketers with large brewery logos on the front and back of

their t-shirts which, because of their size, gave an impression of saturation and was thus

in breach of standard 1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Sports Code. Consequently, he added, the

broadcast breached A3.d of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint

TVNZ advised GOAL of its Complaints Committee's decision in a letter dated 3 March

1994.

It recorded that the item showed the New Zealand and Pakistan cricket players practising

before the start of the test series and dealt with the problems for New Zealand because of

an injury to its main strike bowler. The complaint, it noted, referred to the brewery logos

on the New Zealand team's practice clothing.

TVNZ said that the logos were carried on clothing worn by the players in a situation over

which it had no control and although their presence could not be excluded in view of the

nature of the item, their portrayal had been minimised to the extent possible.

However, it was almost impossible, TVNZ added, to show a bowler practising when seen

only from the neck up.

In declining to uphold the complaint, TVNZ commented:

The [Complaints] Committee did not believe that you could argue credibly that a

news item of this significance should be dropped because it was not possible to

exclude from vision some of the sponsorship logos displayed by the players. It

believes the clause recognising that broadcasters sometimes have little control was

applicable in this situation.

Further, it believed that the focus of the item was clearly on the fitness of the

players and with the attention of the viewer drawn to that there is no impression

of liquor promotion saturating the item.

GOAL's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, in a Complaint Referral Form dated 10 March 1993, Mr

Turner on GOAL's behalf referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

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

He disputed TVNZ's contention that this complaint was similar to another before the

Authority as the other one, although it was also concerned with cricketers' practice

clothing, did not refer to standard 1.3.2(c) of the Voluntary Code.

He argued that TVNZ had not addressed the question of saturation but had maintained

that the "let-out" contained in the footnote of standard A.3 was applicable. He replied:

I submit that the let-out cannot be applied to questions of players' clothing because

broadcasters never have control of what is worn by players. TVNZ had the option

of not broadcasting the item; it chose not to take that option.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority

As is its practice, the Authority sought the broadcaster's response to the referral. its letter is

dated 14 March and TVNZ's reply, 18 March.

Repeating that the item was a legitimate news story, TVNZ said that it had not and did not

accept that the portrayal of the logos gave the impression of saturation. Every effort, it

continued, had been made to minimise the incidental exposure of liquor promotion

material. Two interviews included in the item had been framed to exclude the player's

clothing but that was not possible in visuals showing a bowler bowling or a batter batting.

Apart from the interviews, TVNZ reported, it had had no control over the situation. It

concluded:

We disagree with Mr Turner's view that we had the option of not showing the

item. Not screening a significant item of news because it contains material of this

nature over which we have no control is not an option.

GOAL's Final Comment to the Authority

When asked to comment on TVNZ's response, in a letter dated 25 March 1994 Mr Turner

on GOAL's behalf commented that the significance or lack of significance of any news item

was a matter of opinion. He concluded:

Nevertheless I believe that, somewhere in the world on that day, news of much

greater significance to New Zealanders was made without being mentioned on One

Network News.