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 - 1994-061

Members
  • I W Gallaway (Chair)
  • R A Barraclough
  • L M Loates
  • J R Morris
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1994-061
Channel/Station
TV One
Standards Breached


Summary

The Otago rugby team's victory over Canterbury was broadcast as part of Television

One's Countrywide Bank Grandstand on Sunday 19 June between 3.00–6.00pm.

The programme finished with a short extract from another game.

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

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that both the main game and the short

extract breached standard 1.1 of the Voluntary Sports Code. It states that ground

signage advertising liquor must not give the impression of saturation. GOAL pointed

out that a breach of the Voluntary Code amounted to a breach of the Programme

Standards.

Arguing that it had complied with the requirement in the Programme Standards to

minimise the exposure of incidental liquor advertising, TVNZ declined to uphold the

complaint. It expressed concern however about the amount of signage and reported

that it had asked its Director of Sport to take the appropriate action. Dissatisfied

with TVNZ's decision about the main game, Mr Turner on GOAL's behalf 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 a tape of the item complained about and

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

the Authority has determined the complaint without a formal hearing.

Countrywide Bank Grandstand on 19 June featured coverage of a rugby game between

Otago and Canterbury, where signs advertising Speights beer were visible. A few

minutes before the end of the programme, which ran from 3pm to 6pm, a shot of

another rugby game was shown, which included signs advertising Liquorland and Lion

Red beer.

The Secretary of GOAL, Mr Cliff Turner, complained that there was so much

Speights advertising around the ground of the Otago versus Canterbury game that

there was an impression of saturation of alcohol advertising, in breach of 1.1 of the

Voluntary Sports Code for Liquor Advertising and Promotion on Television and thus

a breach of standard A3.d of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.

The standards read:

1. Incidental Promotion and Saturation


1.1 Ground Signage


Care must be taken to ensure that ground signage is balanced and

does not give the impression of saturation. Standard ground

hoardings may carry advertising positioning statements. Other

ground signage is limited to the use of logos and, when

appropriate, a statement of sponsorship support of the team or

event.


A3.  Broadcasters will ensure that the incidental promotion of liquor is

minimised and in particular:


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 on

Television.


Mr Turner commented that he believed a breach of standard 1.1 automatically led to a

breach of Programme Standard A3.d.

In response, TVNZ referred to the concluding comment in standard A3, which

provides:

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.


The broadcaster responded that whatever the level of compliance by the sports bodies

with the voluntary code, TVNZ has minimised the exposure of the incidental

advertising to the best of its ability and had removed any impression of saturation. In

both sequences the camera had at all times focused on the field of play and the action

taking place.


In declining to uphold the complaint, TVNZ noted however that the Complaints

Committee had expressed some concern about the amount of signage present at the

Otago versus Canterbury game. It asked TVNZ's Director of Sport to contact the

appropriate authorities to emphasise TVNZ's support for the principle that the spirit

as well as the letter of the codes should be observed.


GOAL did not accept TVNZ's reasoning. It argued that by expressing concern about

the level of signage at the Otago versus Canterbury game, TVNZ admitted the amount

of brewery advertising at the ground breached standard 1.1 of the Voluntary Sports

Code. GOAL argued that the concluding comment to standard A3 did not apply to

A3.d because the words "will not broadcast" in A3.d were an absolute prohibition

against broadcasting anything which breached standard 1 of the Sports Code.


GOAL also complained that TVNZ had ignored the second part of the complaint

about the short item at the end of the programme.

TVNZ responded that it did not know whether standard 1.1 of the Sports Code was

breached, as judgment on that matter was subjective. However, the filming by

TVNZ's camera crew had removed any impression of saturation that may have

resulted from the ground signage.

Further, TVNZ said it did not believe that A3.d stopped broadcasters from showing

an event at a ground where standard 1.1 of the Voluntary Code might have been

breached:

The code says broadcasters will not broadcast anything which is in breach of

Section 1 and in this case we do not believe we have – whatever the situation

was at the ground. The exposure of liquor signage during the game was kept to

a minimum in accordance with the code and was at all times incidental to the

run of play, which was the focus of the programme.


TVNZ also disputed GOAL's assertion that it had ignored the second part of the

complaint, saying that its earlier letter made it clear that the TVNZ Complaints

Committee viewed the issue as a single matter.


The Authority first considered the level of signage at the Otago versus Canterbury

game and was in no doubt that it breached the saturation provision of standard 1.1 of

the Voluntary Sports Code. The arc of the ground exposed to television cameras was

virtually surrounded by banks of signs advertising Speights beer. During one shot, the

Authority was able to see up to eight Speights signs at one time. In one area there

were four large signs together. The Authority believed the provision of standard 1.1

that states: "Care must be taken to ensure that ground signage is balanced and does not

give the impression of saturation" had been grossly breached both in the letter and the

spirit of the Code.


The second sequence complained about began with a shot of a large Lion Red sign

painted in the middle of the field. In the next few seconds signs running down one

side of the field containing seven alcohol related brand names were visible. The

Authority was in no doubt that this also breached standard 1.1 of the Voluntary

Sports Code. However, it noted that GOAL had decided to withdraw that aspect of

the complaint when it made its final comment to the Authority, on the basis that there

had been some confusion about it. Accordingly the Authority was not required to

determine this aspect.


Turning to TVNZ's argument that its staff had done all they could to minimise the

exposure of the signs, the Authority noted that the level of signage, particularly in the

Otago versus Canterbury game, was so great that no amount of careful camera work

could have eliminated the impression of saturation. It concurred with GOAL that

A3.d had been breached as the programme contained sequences that breached standard

1.1 of the Voluntary Code.


The Authority noted that A3.d will be breached when an impression of saturation of

ground signage is broadcast. The concluding comment in A3 does not allow the

broadcast of an event at a ground which contains such a proliferation of signs that an

impression of saturation cannot be avoided.


In upholding the breach, the Authority expressed its disappointment that the sports

bodies involved had apparently blatantly disregarded the Voluntary Code they had

signed. It also expressed its sympathy for the broadcaster, who is placed in a most

difficult position by such a breach of the Voluntary Code. The Authority commended

TVNZ for taking the stand it has in communicating to the appropriate bodies its

concerns about the level of signage. The Authority noted that it will address the issue

of what it believes is excessive levels of ground signage in the event of incidental

promotion of liquor being permitted to continue as a result of its current review of the

rules relating to liquor advertising.

 

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

broadcast of Countrywide Bank Grandstand by Television New Zealand Ltd on

19 June 1994 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)(a) of

the Broadcasting Act 1989. It does not intend to do so because it believes that TVNZ

has acted responsibly in bringing its concerns about the excessive levels of ground

signage to the appropriate authorities and it will, as stated, address the issue during

the current review.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Iain Gallaway
Chairperson
15 August 1994

Appendix


GOAL's Complaint to Television New Zealand Limited

In a letter dated 20 June 1994, the Secretary of the Group Opposed to Advertising of

Liquor (GOAL), Mr Cliff Turner, complained to Television New Zealand about Sport

on One broadcast between 3.00–6.00pm on 19 June.

Referring to the part of the programme which covered the Otago v Canterbury rugby

game, Mr Turner stated that extensive advertising for Speights beer was seen around

the ground. The amount of advertising, he continued, gave the impression of

saturation of liquor promotion in contravention of standard 1.1 of the New Zealand

Sports Assembly Voluntary Code. Such a breach of the Voluntary Code, he added,

also breached standard A3.d of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.

The provisions had also been breached, he argued, in a brief shot of another game

shortly before the conclusion of Sport On One. The touch-line of that game, he wrote,

was lined with advertisements for Liquorland and Lion Red beer.


TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint

TVNZ advised GOAL of its Complaints Committee's decision in a letter dated 30

June 1994.

It reported that the Committee had viewed Countrywide Bank Grandstand and had

noted the signage. Declining to uphold the complaint, it continued:

The view taken was that, whatever the level of compliance by the sports bodies

with the Voluntary Sports Code, TVNZ as broadcaster had minimised the

exposure of incidental liquor advertising to the best of its ability and, in so

doing, had removed any impression of saturation.


The camera (in both sequences to which your complaint refers) was at all times

focussed on the field of play and the sports action taking place.


Despite this decision, it concluded:


While reaching this decision, the committee expressed some concern about the

amount of signage which evidently had been placed around the Otago v

Canterbury match. It asked TVNZ's Director of Sport to contact the

appropriate authorities to emphasise TVNZ's support for the principle that the

liquor promotion codes must be observed in the spirit as well as the letter.


GOAL's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, in a letter dated 2 July 1994 Mr Turner on

GOAL's behalf referred the complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under

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

Mr Turner repeated GOAL's complaint about the amount of ground signage and

argued that TVNZ's expression of concern amounted to an admission that standard

1.1 of the Voluntary Code had been contravened.

With reference to TVNZ's explanation that it had minimised the amount of exposure

given the signs in compliance with the footnote in standard A3, Mr Turner expressed

the opinion that the footnote did not apply to standard A3.d as that provision

explicitly prohibited broadcasters from screening any material which breached

standard 1 of the Voluntary code.

Mr Turner also pointed out that TVNZ had ignored the complaint about the short

item at the end of the programme.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority

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

Its letter is dated 5 July 1994 and TVNZ's response, 8 July.

TVNZ noted that GOAL had deduced that since it expressed some concerns about the

amount of ground signage it had believed that Rule 1.1 of the Voluntary Sports Code

had been breached. It reported that it did not know if the rule was broken on this

occasion, since that was a subjective matter. However, it did note that through the

efforts of the director and camera operators, any impression of saturation of liquor

advertising which might have resulted from excessive ground signage was removed.

TVNZ also reported that its Director of Sport had spoken to the appropriate

authorities with a view to reducing such signage so that the director could attend to

covering the sports event rather than being diverted by the need to minimise incidental

liquor promotion.

It did not accept GOAL's premise that standard A3.d of the Programme Standards for

Promotion of Liquor forbids broadcasters from showing a sports event at a venue at

which Rule 1.1 of the Voluntary Code may have been breached.

TVNZ's view was that standard A3.d prevented it from screening any excess of

signage which may be around the ground and that this could be achieved by judicious

camera work. It observed:

The code says broadcasters will not broadcast anything which is in breach of

Section 1 and in this case we do not believe we have – whatever the situation

was at the ground. The exposure of liquor signage during the game was kept to a

minimum in accordance with the code and was at all times incidental to the run

of play, which was the focus of the programme.

It stated that GOAL was wrong in asserting that the second part of the complaint was

not addressed. It noted that that aspect concerned the replay of part of an earlier

match and that had been specifically referred to in its 30 June letter.

The enclosed tape included the sequence from the earlier game as well as a substantial

extract from the Canterbury v Otago match.

GOAL's Final Comment to the Authority

When asked to make a brief final comment on TVNZ's response, in a letter dated 14

July 1994, GOAL repeated its view that the amount of signage at the ground was in

breach of the codes.

It suggested that if TVNZ's Director of Sport had already spoken to the authorities

about the amount of signage, then it was probably fair to deduce that it had its doubts

about the amount of advertising.

GOAL repeated its view that the complaint turned on the question of if the ground is

plastered with advertising to the extent of breaching Rule 1.1, then should TVNZ

refuse to broadcast the event because it was automatically in breach of Additional

Standard A.3.

GOAL suggested that if the coverage made it apparent to the viewer that there was an

illegal amount of advertising, then no matter what skill was shown by the director in

minimising the exposure given, there was a breach of standard A3.d.

GOAL reported that it believed there was some confusion about the second part of

the complaint, and to eliminate that confusion it withdrew that part of the complaint.