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 - 1994-094

Members
  • I W Gallaway (Chair)
  • R A Barraclough
  • L M Loates
  • J R Morris
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1994-094
Programme
PrimeTime
Channel/Station
TV One
Standards Breached


Summary

The arrival in New Zealand of the South African rugby team was reported on

PrimeTime on 21 June. The item included extracts from a news conference with the

team management during which signs for Steinlager beer festooned the wall behind the

people being interviewed, one of whom was seen to pour Steinlager into a glass from a

bottle on the table.

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

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the deliberate

exposure of a liquor product and the dominance of the backdrop breached the rules

covering the incidental promotion of liquor during interviews with sports teams. He

also alleged that the broadcast contravened the requirement prohibiting contrived

liquor promotion.

Emphasising that the item reported a news conference organised by the NZRFU,

TVNZ said that through the use of careful camera angles the exposure of the Steinlager

signs had been minimised and had not been a dominant feature. Dissatisfied with

TVNZ's decision on those points, GOAL referred its complaint to the Broadcasting

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

to the Authority, TVNZ submitted that as it had given the complaint proper

consideration as required by the Act, the Authority should decline to determine it as

frivolous.

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


Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the programme complained

about and have read the correspondence (summarised in the Appendix). As is its

practice, the Authority has determined the complaint without a formal hearing.

GOAL's spokesperson, Mr Cliff Turner, complained to TVNZ that the coverage of

the arrival of the South African rugby team, and specifically the news conference at

the airport, breached standards A3.a and A3.d of the Programme Standards for the

Promotion of Liquor. Referring to the second extract from the news conference shown

during the item, Mr Turner said Steinlager signs were prominent and that there were

bottles of Steinlager beer on the table. He wrote:

The coverage appeared to have been filmed at Auckland Airport. It is unlikely

that a table and chairs underneath Steinlager signage are normally to be seen at

the airport. Their juxtaposition was clearly contrived and I believe that the

coverage thus breached parts of Rules 1.2 and 1.6 of the NZ Sports Assembly

Voluntary Sports Code for Liquor Advertising and Promotion on Television.


TVNZ focussed on the requirement in standard A3 that broadcasters must minimise

the incidental promotion of liquor. It agreed that despite the presence of some liquor

promotional material, it was largely excluded by the use of tight shots and the entire

scene was shown only fleetingly – "barely one second in duration". In declining to

uphold the complaint under either standard A3.a or A3.d, TVNZ wrote:

Our interpretation of Code A3d is that, whatever the situation might be at the

venue (in this case the news conference) we are in breach only if we reproduce

the effect of saturation in the broadcast material. In this case we do not know

whether the setting for the news conference breached the Voluntary Sports

Code. Our committee however believes that there is no impression of

saturation in the item as broadcast, and consequently Code A3.d was not

breached.

GOAL did not refer the contrived incidental liquor promotion aspect of the complaint

to the Authority. With regard to the standard A3.d complaint, Mr Turner disagreed

with TVNZ that only saturation was relevant and maintained that a breach occurred

when the Voluntary Sports Code was contravened.

In its response, TVNZ denied that the broadcast involved either the "deliberate

exposure of product" or that the Steinlager signs were a "predominant feature".

When asked to comment on the referral, TVNZ argued that the Authority should

decline to determine the complaint as GOAL, by referring most of TVNZ's decisions

to the Authority, did not give proper consideration to s.5(g) of the Broadcasting Act.

It reads:

(g)  Most complaints that are capable of being resolved by an independent

complaints procedure should not be required to be resolved by that

procedure but should be capable of being resolved by proper consideration

and proper response on the part of the broadcaster.


In response to the specific point, Mr Turner expressed amusement that TVNZ, "in

spite of its frequent transgressions", asked for GOAL to be penalised. Mr Turner

maintained that the item breached the Voluntary Sports Code and, in view of the

Authority's signal in Decision No: 149/93, believed that the complaint had been made

under the correct provision.

Rules 1.2 and 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code provide:

1.2  Product Promotion

Both sponsors and sports organisations shall take all reasonable steps to

ensure that there is NO deliberate or contrived exposure of product during

interview situations or dressing room filming.


Premeditated staging of athletes holding packaged liquor products for

television or static cameras is not permitted.


A celebratory drink or spraying champagne are acceptable practices in

moderation and provided that they are not contrived.


1.6 Backdrops for Tour/Event Announcements or Interviews

Backdrops shall focus on the specific team, event on tour and may

incorporate sponsorship logos. Backdrops shall not be a predominant

feature. There shall be no reference to liquor advertisements.


At pre-arranged interviews the placement of the interviewee shall not have

liquor signage as a predominant feature.


Standard A3.d of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor states:


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 ...


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 on 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.


Decision No: 149/93 dealt with a complaint from GOAL that a news conference

featuring two All Black selectors and the team's captain breached standards A3.a and

A3.c (both noted above) because of the prominence of the signs promoting Steinlager

beer on the wall behind the speakers.

Standard 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code was introduced into the debate on that

complaint after TVNZ had ruled on the matter and the Authority noted with regard to

it:

That aspect of the complaint was introduced too late in the process to require a

ruling from the Authority. However, on the basis that this decision is one of the

first on the provisions in the revised Programme Standards for the Promotion of

Liquor, the Authority signals that, in view of the manner in which the backdrops

were placed, it would have upheld a complaint under A3.d of the Programme

Standards on the basis that a breach of standard 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports

Code had occurred because the backdrops were undoubtedly a predominant

feature in a clearly contrived situation.

Before dealing with the specific issues raised by this complaint, the Authority

considered TVNZ's suggestion that it decline to determine the complaint. While

unreservedly accepting that TVNZ gives complaints "proper consideration" and a

"proper response", the Authority regarded s.5(g) as an expression of policy rather

than advancing a process which could be applied to all or indeed to specific

complaints. Moreover, it would add that the complaints from GOAL, although time

consuming, seldom raise issues which could be described as either vexatious or trivial.

Indeed, a review of the Authority's decisions during the past financial year indicates

that approximately half of the referrals received by the Authority from GOAL are

upheld on one or more aspects. Accordingly, TVNZ's submission is rejected as an

inappropriate interpretation and application of s.5(g).

In dealing with the current complaint, the Authority first considered whether the

broadcast breached either rule 1.2 or 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code.

Rule 1.2 prohibits any deliberate exposure of liquor products during interviews.

During the item complained about, not only were bottles of Steinlager beer on the table

in the front of the speakers, but one speaker was seen to fill his glass with beer. In

those circumstances the rule was clearly contravened.

Under rule 1.6, the Authority was required to decide whether the backdrops at the

pre-arranged conference promoting Steinlager beer were a "predominant feature".

While acknowledging TVNZ's efforts to focus on the speakers and to use shots from

the side, the Authority decided in view of the size of the backdrops they were a

feature which contravened rule 1.6.

Having decided that the Voluntary Sports Code was transgressed, the Authority then

considered whether a breach of standard A3.d of the Programme Standards had

occurred. In view of the wording of standard A3.d, it was unable to accept TVNZ's

interpretation that an impression of saturation was necessary. Standard A3.d

provides explicitly that a breach of section 1 of the Voluntary Sports Code is a breach

of standard A3.d. As noted above, the Authority believed that two provisions in

section 1 had been breached (1.2 and 1.6) and thus standard A3.d was contravened. In

other words, the ruling on standard A3.d follows automatically on the decision that

the appropriate provision in the Voluntary Sports Code has been contravened.

 

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

by Television New Zealand Ltd of an item on PrimeTime on 21 June 1994

breaches 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) of the

Broadcasting Act 1989. After careful consideration, it has decided on balance not to

impose an order on this occasion. Although two provisions of the Voluntary Sports

Code were breached, TVNZ made some effort to reduce the impact of the backdrops

through the use of close-ups and side shots.

The Authority's principal concern (and annoyance) about the item was that the sports

body which was involved with organising the news conference had allowed the venue

to be prepared in such a way that any television coverage would almost inevitably

contravene the standards. The display of bottles and the pouring of beer were flagrant

breaches of the Voluntary Sports Code both in law and spirit. This Code was

proposed by sporting organisations through the New Zealand Sports Assembly. The

Authority holds broadcasters responsible for breaches – not the Sports Assembly -

but if the Assembly is serious in its expressed attempts and intentions to minimise the

incidental promotion of liquor, the Authority does not expect broadcasters to be

placed in such an invidious situation as was TVNZ on this occasion.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Iain Gallaway
Chairperson
6 October 1994

Appendix

GOAL's Complaint to Television New Zealand Limited – 22 June 1994

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

Turner, complained about an item on PrimeTime, broadcast at about 10.40pm on 21

June.

The item had dealt with the arrival in New Zealand of the South African rugby team

and on three occasions, he said, people at a news conference were shown in front of

Steinlager signage. His complaint focussed on the second occasion when:

Three men were shown sitting at a table. A Steinlager sign was prominent in

the picture and half of another Steinlager sign was visible. There were bottles

of Steinlager on the table.

Believing that the item had probably been filmed at Auckland airport where Steinlager

signage was not visually displayed, Mr Turner argued that the juxtaposition of the

signage and the table and chairs breached rule 1.2 and 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports

Code which deals with interviews relating to sports events. A breach of those

standards, he continued, amounted to a breach of standard A3.d of the Programme

Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.

In addition, on the basis that the filming involved an arranged and contrived situation,

he argued that the broadcast also contravened standard A3.a.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint – 2 August 1994

TVNZ advised GOAL of its Complaints Committee's decision and beginning by

explaining that the item dealt with a newsworthy event, TVNZ said that it included

extracts from an airport news conference organised by the NZRFU. It then noted that

the standards require broadcasters to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor and:

A viewing of the item shows that, despite the presence of liquor promotional

material, it is largely excluded from the item by the use of tight shots showing

the South Africans as head and shoulders only, and at least two shots taken

from a side angle which also effectively cuts out the liquor advertising.


On the basis that the item attempted to minimise the incidental promotion and that

TVNZ was not involved in any deal involving the Steinlager signage, TVNZ declined

to uphold the standard A3.a complaint.

TVNZ then considered the standard A3.d complaint and declined to uphold it on the

basis:

Our interpretation of Code A3.d is that, whatever the situation might be at the

venue (in this case the news conference) we are in breach only if we reproduce

the effect of saturation in the broadcast material. In this case we do not know

whether the setting for the news conference breached the Voluntary Sports

Code. Our committee however believes that there is no impression of

saturation in the item as broadcast, and consequently Code A3d was not

breached.


GOAL's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 9 August 1991

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's reply, Mr Turner on GOAL's behalf referred the complaint

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

Explaining that he only referred the standard A3.d aspect to the Authority, Mr Turner

said the TVNZ's reference to saturation was irrelevant as the sections of the

Voluntary Sports Code which had been nominated referred to news conferences. In

the broadcast complained about, he wrote, the Sports Code had been contravened as

there had been "deliberate exposure of product" and the liquor signage was "a

predominant feature".

Mr Turner concluded:


In its "signal" in Decision 149/93 the Authority made it clear that it would

have upheld the complaint if an allegation of a breach of Standard A3.d had

been made in GOAL's complaint to the broadcaster. The case now under

consideration is very similar to that dealt with in that decision.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority – 5 September 1994

As is its practice, on 10 August the Authority sought the broadcaster's response to

the referral.

Repeating that the Rugby Union had organised the news conference, TVNZ

acknowledged that parts of Steinlager signs were visible briefly in the report.

However, it denied that there was "deliberate exposure of product" or that the

Steinlager signs were a "predominant feature". As it had explained to GOAL earlier,

TVNZ said that the liquor promotion material was largely excluded and that the full

logo appeared briefly – "barely one second in duration".


TVNZ concluded:

Seldom is a complaint made by Mr Turner on behalf of GOAL (whether

TVNZ upholds the complaint or not) not been referred to the Authority. Mr

Turner clearly takes no account of Section 5(g) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

which provides "most complaints that are capable of being resolved by an

independent complaints procedure should not be required to be resolved by

that procedure but should be capable of being resolved by proper consideration

and proper response on the part of the broadcaster."


In this case TVNZ did give proper consideration and a proper response yet as

usual Mr Turner refers the matter to the Authority. TVNZ accordingly

submits that the Authority should exercise its power under Section 11 of the

Act and decline to determine this complaint which has been referred to it under

Section 8 of the Act as the complaint is frivolous and in all the circumstances it

considered that it should not be determined by the Authority.


GOAL's Final Comment to the Authority – 12 September 1994

When asked to comment briefly, Mr Turner on GOAL's behalf began:


I found it amusing that TVNZ, which has frequently broken the rules about

liquor promotion, should criticise me for taking ".. no account of Section 5(g)

of the Broadcasting Act 1989 ..." .


In spite of its frequent transgressions TVNZ has not yet suffered a penalty

but asks the Authority to penalise GOAL by finding our complaint frivolous.


He added that he had just received a decision on a complaint from TV3 which he did

not intend to refer to the Authority.


Referring to the item broadcast on PrimeTime on 21 June, Mr Turner pointed out that

bottles of Steinlager were sitting on the table while Dr Louis Luyt was speaking. He

noted:

They were not there by magic; they were there because someone made a

deliberate decision to put them there.


Referring to the Authority's comment in Decision No: 149/93 that A3.d appeared to

be the appropriate standard under which to complain about broadcasts of news

conferences, Mr Turner pointed out that, after the shot of the other people at the

conference, the camera returned to Dr Luyt and, Mr Turner contended:

There was not need to move away from Dr Luyt to show the three South

Africans listening to him. If the camera had remained on Dr Luyt as he was

speaking this complaint would not have been made as other incidental liquor

promotion in the news item was of a very minor nature.