BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1995-071

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • W J Fraser
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1995-071
Programme
One World of Sport
Channel/Station
TV One


Summary

The names of the rugby players chosen to go to South Africa to play in the World

Cup were announced by the chairman of the Rugby Union and broadcast on TV1's

One World of Sport at 10.15pm on 29 April 1995.

Mr Turner of the Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL) complained to

Television New Zealand Ltd that the broadcast breached the standards as Mr Guy

was shown initially standing in front of a Steinlager beer sign. The sign was slowly

removed from the shot which, Mr Turner said, indicated that the sign could have been

omitted from the beginning.

Explaining the technical difficulties involved in a "live" broadcast, TVNZ nevertheless

concluded that the exposure of the Steinlager sign amounted to a breach of the

standards. The matter had been discussed with the sports department and every

effort made to prevent a recurrence. Dissatisfied with the action taken by TVNZ

having upheld the complaint, 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 below, the Authority declined to uphold 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.

When the Chairman (Mr Guy) of the Rugby Union announced, at 10.15pm on 29

April, the team to contest the Rugby World Cup, viewers of TV1's One World of

Sport were initially able to see signage for Steinlager beer over his right shoulder.

After some eight seconds, the shot zoomed in to remove most of the sign.

Mr Turner, Secretary of GOAL, complained to TVNZ that showing the sign breached

the programme standards. Because TVNZ was able to show Mr Guy without the

Steinlager sign in the background at the end of the shot, he argued that it would have

been possible to omit the signage from the earlier part of the shot.

He alleged that the item breached standard A3 of the Programme Standards for the

Promotion of Liquor and rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code. They read:

A3 Broadcasters will ensure that incidental promotion of liquor is

minimised.


1.6 Backdrops for Tour/Event Announcements or Interview


Backdrops shall focus on the specific team, event or 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.


TVNZ suggested that there was a contradiction between the requirement in standard

A3 to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor and the acknowledgment in rule 1.6

that tour announcement backdrops could incorporate sponsorship logos. The

backdrops on the broadcast complained about, it noted, showed such a logo and did

not include a sales message.

Dealing with the shot which showed the logo, TVNZ said it was technically difficult

and "messy" to cut directly from a tightish shot of the presenter to a similar tight shot

of Mr Guy. Furthermore, the announcement was broadcast "live" and, until Mr Guy

stood up, TVNZ's crew did not know where precisely he would stand in relation to

the signage. TVNZ observed:

The decision on the shot had then to be made very quickly - while also taking

into account all those other matters which have to be considered during a

television broadcast (lighting, sound, colour etc etc).


Nevertheless, taking into account the conspicuous position of the backdrop and the

length of time before beginning to zoom in (eight seconds), TVNZ concluded that the

broadcast breached standard A3. TVNZ reported:


This matter has been discussed with the Sports Department and this decision

will be brought to the attention of those involved. TVNZ will make every effort

to prevent a recurrence of this problem.


TVNZ apologises for the breach in standard A3.


On GOAL's behalf, Mr Turner referred the complaint to the Authority as he was not

satisfied with the action taken by TVNZ. He observed that TVNZ had spoken to

relevant staff about six weeks previously after a similar complaint was upheld and it

now proposed the same action. He acknowledged the apology but believed a wider

apology was necessary.

In its report to the Authority, TVNZ commented:


It is fair to say that the Complaints Committee feels frustrated by incidents

such as this, but also feels disappointed that TVNZ camera operators and

directors are constantly confronted with such signage when trying to go about

the legitimate task of bringing an important sports events to the attention of

viewers as quickly as possible .. ie "live".

The Programme Standards Manager (Mr David Edmunds) also advised the Authority:


The decision of the Complaints Committee was the subject of a separate

meeting involving myself, the Company secretary (Mr Noel Vautier) and the

Director of Sports and TVNZ can assure the Authority that the matter has been

treated seriously.


In the final comment on GOAL's behalf, Mr Turner described the relationship

between TVNZ and the Rugby Union as "symbiotic" and argued that if TVNZ had

required Mr Guy to move to ensure TVNZ's coverage of the announcement, he would

have done so.

In determining this complaint, the Authority was required to decide whether TVNZ's

action, after upholding GOAL's complaint, was satisfactory in the circumstances. It

records initially that it appreciated GOAL's concern and TVNZ's frustration about

its own staff and the situations with which staff are confronted.

In the recent decision (No: 31/95, dated 11.5.95), the Authority referred to TVNZ's

endeavours to comply with the standards relating to the promotion of liquor. It

wrote:

Taking into account ... its belief that TVNZ over recent years has been

conscientious in complying with the standards, the Authority decided that

TVNZ's actions on this occasion were appropriate and sufficient. Whereas

aspects of the item broadcast on 7 March unquestionably breached the

standards, the Authority is aware that TVNZ is undoubtedly making an effort

to comply with them.


Should the Authority decide that TVNZ's efforts to comply fall away, it will

unhesitatingly use its powers to impose penalties. However, while such efforts

remain conscientious (and breaches minimal), it will refrain from doing so.


As the Authority accepted that TVNZ's efforts to comply with the standards

continue to be conscientious and as infringements are rare, it decided that TVNZ's

action was sufficient on this occasion.

 

For the reasons above, the Authority declined to uphold the complaint.


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judith Potter
Chairperson
27 July 1995


Appendix

GOAL's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 1 May 1995

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

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about the announcement broadcast at

10.15pm on One World of Sport on 29 April 1995 of the rugby players chosen to go

to South Africa to play in the World Cup.

There was a prominent Steinlager beer sign, Mr Turner wrote, behind the head of Mr

Guy of the Rugby Union while he announced the team. Because the camera zoomed

in while he was reading the names to eliminate the sign, Mr Turner argued that it

would have been possible to omit the sign from the earlier part of the shot. He

considered that the showing of the sign breached standard A3 of the Television Code

of Broadcasting Practice.

In a further letter dated 6 May, Mr Turner argued that the same shot - which showed

the Rugby Union spokesperson in front of promotion material for Steinlager - also

breached rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code and, consequently, standard A4 of the

Television Code.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 17 May 1995

Pointing out that standard A3 requires broadcasters to minimise the incidental

promotion of liquor while rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code accepts that tour

announcement backdrops may incorporate sponsorship logos, TVNZ said that the

technical difficulties involved in "live" broadcasts also had to be considered.

Nevertheless, as the Steinlager sign had been conspicuous and as the camera stayed on

the wider shot for eight seconds before beginning to zoom, TVNZ decided that the

broadcast breached standard A3.

Apologising for the breach, TVNZ reported that the following action had been taken:

This matter has been discussed at length with the Sports Department and this

decision will be brought to the attention of those involved. TVNZ will make

every effort to prevent a recurrence of this problem.

GOAL's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 19 May 1995

Dissatisfied with the action taken by TVNZ having upheld the complaint, 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 recalled that on 30 March TVNZ had advised him in relation to another

complaint that staff had been spoken to about the standards and, he added:

On 17 May TVNZ has now had to uphold a similar complaint and again says

that the matter has been discussed with relevant staff.

Referring to other matters he had complained about, Mr Turner noted the apology

but, he insisted, a wider apology was necessary.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 16 May 1995

In its report to the Authority, TVNZ acknowledged that despite the extra difficulties

involved in "live" broadcasts, incidental liquor promotion had not been minimised on

this occasion as required by standard A3.

It added:

It is fair to say that the Complaints Committee feels frustrated by incidents

such as this, but also feels disappointed that TVNZ camera operators and

directors are constantly confronted with such signage when trying to go about

the legitimate task of bringing an important sports event to the attention of

viewers as quickly as possible ... ie "live".

It reported that the decision was being treated very seriously and had been the subject

of a meeting between TVNZ's Company Secretary, the Programme Standards

Manager and the Director of Sports.

GOAL's Final Comment to the Authority - 3 June 1995

In his response on GOAL's behalf, Mr Turner suggested that TVNZ's appropriate

remedy was to advise sports spokespeople that there would be no coverage of

announcements if they stood near liquor signage.

With regard to the specific incident, Mr Turner argued that the announcement could

have been delayed a few seconds to allow the camera to zoom in before the

announcement started. He wrote:

This incident illustrates yet again the determination of members of the liquor

trade to extract the last drop of value from their sponsorships. Such incidents

are likely to be repeated until significant penalties are imposed for breaches of

the rules. It also demonstrates the unwillingness of the liquor trade to comply

with the Compliance Addendum to the Voluntary Sports Code.

Reporting that he was complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority

Complaints Board about the length of time the Steinlager logo was shown when the

names of the chosen players were screened, Mr Turner referred to a comment in

Decision No: 100/94 (dated 20 October 1994) when the Authority had expressed

concern about blatant breaches of the broadcasting standards by All Black

administrators and players.