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 - 1994-109

Members
  • I W Gallaway (Chair)
  • W J Fraser
  • L M Loates
  • J R Morris
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1994-109
Programme
Holmes
Channel/Station
TV One
Standards Breached


Summary

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.


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 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

Standards.

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

Standards.

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

signage.

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

signage.


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:


(a) ...


(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, 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

Liquor.


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

 

Iain Gallaway
Chairperson
7 November 1994


Appendix

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

Standard A3.a.

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

item was:

... 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

Dunedin.

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

the signage.

TVNZ commented:

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

Act 1989.

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

move".

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".