Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1994-109
- I W Gallaway (Chair)
- W J Fraser
- L M Loates
- J R Morris
- Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
The pressure on the coach of the All Blacks in the two days before the first test
against the South African rugby team was dealt with on an item broadcast on the
Holmes programme between 6.30–7.00pm on 11 July.
Mr Turner, the spokesperson for the Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor
(GOAL), complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that the extensive coverage given
to the Steinlager logo at various times breached a number of the broadcasting standards
relating to incidental liquor promotion.
Arguing that the item used "the fly on the wall" technique, TVNZ said it had tried to
minimise the exposure of incidental liquor promotion but that it was not always
possible to interview the busy coach away from liquor signage and declined to uphold
the complaint. Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, 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 one aspect of the complaint.
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 complaint without a formal hearing.
An item broadcast on the Holmes programme after the first test between the All
Blacks and the South African rugby team focussed on Mr Laurie Mains, coach of the
All Blacks. Using what TVNZ described as the "fly on the wall" technique, the item
included shots of the coach with the team during a day or two before the test and again
after the match. It also included brief snatches from interviews with the coach and
some players during this period and some remarks from the coach after the game in
which he reminisced about the pressures under which he had been.
GOAL's spokesperson, Mr Cliff Turner, complained that the whole item was "an
inglorious promotion of Steinlager". It had included shots of the coach and the All
Blacks in a building surrounded with Steinlager advertising – some of which carried the
words "lager beer". Later, the team was seen to leave the team bus while a Steinlager
logo near the bus's door was in sharp focus for much of that part of the item. That
display of liquor promotion, Mr Turner alleged, not only breached rule 1.1 of the
Voluntary Sports Code (and consequently standard A3.d of the Programme Standards
for the Promotion of Liquor) but also standards A1 and A3.c of the Programme
In addition, on the basis that there must have been some financial arrangement between
the Rugby Union and TVNZ, he alleged a breach of standard A3.a of the Programme
TVNZ denied that there was a financial arrangement which involved showing the
signage and declined to uphold the complaint under standard A3.a. That aspect of the
complaint was not referred to the Authority.
In assessing the other aspects of the complaint, TVNZ emphasised that the item had
used the "fly on the wall" technique, a recognised procedure, which allowed the
camera (and viewer) to watch the subject. It continued:
It was particularly appropriate to use this technique in the circumstances of
the Laurie Mains piece because the coach had been under very considerable
pressure following his team's lacklustre displays against the French.
TVNZ acknowledged that it had not been an easy task, in view of the quantity of the
Steinlager signage about, to minimise incidental liquor promotion. Nevertheless,
successful efforts to minimise such exposure had been made.
For example, track suit logos were on the whole excluded by including tight
head and shoulder shots. Further, at times when the crew had control of the
situation they were able to interview the coach out on the grass, away from the
As for the team leaving the bus, TVNZ wrote:
... in the shots of the manager, coach and team leaving their bus, there is clearly
no deliberate attempt to focus on the Steinlager sign. It is incidental to the
action, and is covered at the beginning of the shot by officials walking by or
standing in front of it.
Taking into account the practical problems, TVNZ also denied that the item gave the
impression of saturation of liquor promotion. With regard to the alleged breach of the
Voluntary Sports Code, TVNZ advised that it did not know whether the signage at the
venue breached that Code. It argued:
We interpret the code as meaning that where the code is breached we must not
reproduce on television the effect such a breach would have on site. It is our
committee's view that the crew filming the "Holmes" item, though clearly
facing difficulties with the signage present, achieved an interesting and
worthwhile profile of Mr Mains without allowing liquor signage to intrude to
any significant extent.
In the referral of the complaint to the Authority, Mr Turner on GOAL's behalf
maintained that the use of any specific technique did not allow the standards to be
disregarded. TVNZ in its response stressed that every effort had been made to
interview Mr Mains – "a very busy and very tense individual" – away from the liquor
GOAL alleged that because the broadcast breached rule 1.1 of the Voluntary Sports
Code, it contravened standard A3.d of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of
Liquor. It also complained that the broadcast breached standards A1 and A3.c of the
Programme Standards. The relevant part of rule 1.1 reads:
1.1 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.
The Programme Standards raised in the complaint provide:
A1 Saturation of liquor promotions, separately or in combination, must be
avoided. In addition, liquor advertisements shall not be broadcast
consecutively in any one break.
Saturation is defined in the Code as:
"Saturation" refers to a degree of exposure which gives the impression that
liquor promotion is dominating that viewing or listening period.
The other standards raised read:
A3 Broadcasters will ensure that the incidental promotion of liquor is
minimised and in particular:
(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
(d) Will not broadcast anything which is in breach of section, 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 circumstances 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 Authority first addressed the complaint under rule 1.1 of the Voluntary Sports
Code. As will be apparent, it refers to ground signage and, taking into account the rest
of the standard not included in the extract recorded above, it is clearly concerned with
external signage and equipment used on a field of play – whether that playing arena be
inside or outside. As the complaint on this occasion was concerned with the signage
(in a gym or, possibly, under the grandstand but not in the changing room and not on
or surrounding the field of play), the Authority decided that rule 1.1 was not
applicable. As a result of the inapplicability of rule 1.1, the Authority did not
determine the aspect of the complaint that the words "lager beer" referred to a liquor
advertisement in contravention of that standard.
As the Voluntary Sports Code is confined to "ground signage" and "changing room
signage", the Authority intends to discuss promptly with the NZ Sports Assembly
the extension of the Code to signage in other situations.
In considering the saturation aspect of the complaint, the Authority noted first that
the references in previous decisions to broadcasts of a sports game were not applicable
as the broadcast on this occasion involved events surrounding the game – not the game
itself. In this broadcast, it noted the display of many signs involving the incidental
promotion of liquor in the initial segment of the item during which the All Blacks were
talking and practising inside. However, although that short sequence in itself gave an
impression of saturation, the Authority decided that when taken over the full item, the
brief initial and unsatisfactory segment did not amount to saturation in the context of
the entire broadcast.
However, with regard to the other aspect of the complaint, the Authority agreed with
GOAL about the alleged breach of standard A3.c. It decided that the Steinlager sign
had been unduly focussed on as the All Blacks were shown dismounting from the team
bus. Indeed, as GOAL pointed out, as the players left the bus the camera seemed to
put the sign, rather than the players, at the centre of the shot. In these circumstances,
the Authority decided that TVNZ had not, as required by the footnote to standard
A.3 when a broadcaster has little control over the situation, minimised liquor exposure
to the best of its ability.
For the above reasons, the Authority upholds the complaint that the item on the
Holmes programme on 11 July 1994, broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd,
breached standard A3.c of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of
It declined to uphold any other aspect of the complaint.
Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may make an order under s.13(1) of the
Broadcasting Act 1989. It considered the breach of A3.c to be clear cut but noted that
it spanned a relatively short period. Accordingly, the Authority decided that an order
was not appropriate.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
7 November 1994
GOAL's Complaint to Television New Zealand Limited - 15 July 1994
The Secretary of the Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL), Mr Cliff
Turner, complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about an item on the Holmes
programme broadcast between 6.30 - 7.00pm on 11 July 1994.
Mr Turner wrote that the item began by showing the All Black coach, Mr Laurie
Mains, and some All Blacks in surroundings "festooned with Steinlager advertising".
Moreover, some of the signage carried the words "Lager Beer".
The amount of Steinlager advertising, Mr Turner continued, gave the impression of
saturation of liquor promotions in contravention of rule 1.1 of the Voluntary Sports
Code. It also breached that rule as the references to lager beer meant that the signs
were liquor advertising rather than sponsorship messages. A breach of rule 1.1 of the
Voluntary Sports Code, he added, was a breach of standard A3.d of the Programme
Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.
In addition, Mr Turner noted, "the plethora of liquor promoting signs throughout the
item breached standard A1 of the Programme Standards.
Later in the item the All Black team and management were shown dismounting the
team bus when, Mr Turner maintained, the Steinlager logo on the bus was in sharp
focus for much of the time. This aspect of the broadcast breached the requirement on
broadcasters to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor (A3.c) as, he argued, it
would have been possible to show the team leaving the bus without showing the logo.
Overall, Mr Turner concluded:
The whole item was an inglorious promotion of Steinlager. The Holmes team
must have made some arrangement with the rugby people to shoot this section
of the programme. It thus appears that there was also a breach of Additional
To sum up, I believe that the item breached Rule 1.1 of the Sports Code and
Additional Standards A1, A3.c and A3.d.
TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 2 August 1994
In advising GOAL of its Complaints Committee's decision, TVNZ observed that the
... a "fly on the wall" view of the pressure All Black coach Laurie Mains was
under in the 48 hours leading up to the test match against South Africa in
The "fly on the wall" technique, well recognised in documentary production,
allows the camera (and the viewer) to follow the subject around as a sort of
companion, watching every activity, recording every mood change - and, when
possible, eliciting comment from the subject on the progress of events.
While accepting that a great deal of Steinlager signage was shown, TVNZ said that the
crew made considerable - and successful - efforts to minimise the exposure of signage.
For example, track suit logos were excluded by the use of "tight head and shoulder
shots" and Mr Mains had been interviewed, where possible, outside and away from
That the signage could not be eliminated altogether arises from the very
practical problem that when preparing this type of item, interviews must be
grabbed as the opportunity arises. It is simply not possible to get co-
operation from a sometimes tetchy coach when, having gained his attention,
you then tell him you cannot after all do the interview because of Steinlager
signs in the background.
Similarly, in the shots of the manager, coach and team leaving their bus, there is
clearly no deliberate attempt to focus on the Steinlager sign. It is incidental to
the action, and is covered at the beginning of the shot by officials walking by or
standing in front of it.
TVNZ maintained that efforts had been made to minimise the exposure of liquor
promotional material during the item on which the focus had been very clearly on Mr
Mains as a coach. It denied that there was any financial arrangement involving TVNZ
to show the signage so standard A3.a was not breached.
As for the alleged breach of the Voluntary Sports code, TVNZ stated:
In regard to A3d we do not know whether signage at the venue was in breach
of the Voluntary Sports Code. We interpret the code as meaning that where
the code is breached we must not reproduce on television the effect such a
breach would have on site. It is our committee's view that the crew filming the
"Holmes" item though clearly facing difficulties with the signage present,
achieved an interesting and worthwhile profile of Mr Mains without allowing
liquor signage to intrude to any significant extent.
In the circumstances, it declined to uphold any aspect of the complaint.
GOAL's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 7 August 1994
Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, on GOAL's behalf Mr Turner referred the
complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting
Referring to TVNZ's reply, he pointed out that the use of the "fly on the wall"
technique did not allow the standards to be disregarded. As for problems about not
interviewing a person because of a Steinlager sign in the background, he stated that the
standards laid down what was acceptable. He wrote:
I particularly ask members of the Authority to study the incident of the coach,
manager and players leaving the bus. When Mr Mains and Mr Meads were
seen they were in the centre of the shot. The camera then moved to the right,
the Steinlager sign on the bus came into view and emerging players were
crowded to the left of the shot.
He stated that it was not apparent that the camera operator had made any effort to
minimise the incidental promotion of Steinlager and, accordingly, that segment in itself
justified a finding that standard A3.c had been breached.
Mr Turner also argued:
TVNZ says "interviews must be grabbed as the opportunity arises". It is
pertinent to ask if any attempt was made to have five minutes with Mr Mains
in a place where liquor promoting signs were not in evidence. If the answer to
that question is "No" then TVNZ cannot accurately claim to have made every
effort to minimise incidental promotion.
While withdrawing the complaint under standard A3.a, he maintained that watching
the item was sufficient in itself to decide that standard A1 had been breached.
TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 13 September 1994
In its report to the Authority on the complaint, TVNZ noted that the item was
intended to show the pressure on the All Blacks' coach before a test match. Declining
to comment further, TVNZ said it had tried to interview Mr Mains away from the
liquor signage but:
It was not always possible to do this because Mr Mains was a very busy and
very tense individual and to ask him to take part in a number of set piece
interviews would have been unreasonable behaviour by TVNZ. Besides, it
was the purpose of the item to reflect the pressures Mr Mains was under and
this was best done by grabbing hurried comments while the coach was "on the
GOAL's Final Comment - 19 September 1994
On GOAL's behalf Mr Turner referred the Authority to a recent newspaper item
which reported that TVNZ had blanked out the Steinlager logo on Mr Mains clothes
for a news item. In contrast, he maintained, the Holmes item, the subject of the
current complaint, was "an advertising bonanza for Steinlager".