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 - 1995-072

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • W J Fraser
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1995-072
Programme
One Network News
Channel/Station
TV One


Summary

The Auckland Warriors rugby league team's affiliation to the new Super League was

announced by club officials at a press conference. Part of the conference was included

as an item of sports news on TV1's One Network News broadcast between 6.00–

7.00pm on 12 May 1995.

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

Television New Zealand Ltd that the shots which showed the DB Bitter signage on

the front of the table at which the officials were seated breached the requirement to

minimise the incidental promotion of liquor.

Explaining that a wide shot had been necessary to show the atmosphere of the news

conference but emphasising the brevity of the shot during which the signage was seen,

TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint. Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, 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.

At a news conference on 12 May, the Auckland Warriors rugby league team

announced that it had joined the new Super League. Part of the news conference was

included as an item on that day's sports news broadcast on One Network News

between 6.00–7.00pm.

On behalf of GOAL, Mr Cliff Turner, the secretary, complained to TVNZ that the

two DB Bitter signs seen during the item – attached to the front of the table where the

club spokespeople sat – breached the broadcasting standards. As it would have been

possible to show the speakers without the signs, he alleged a breach of standard A3 of

the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor. In addition, as the signs were a

predominant feature, he argued that the broadcast also breached rule 1.6 of the

Voluntary Sports Code.

TVNZ assessed the complaint under the standard A3 which reads:

A3  Broadcasters will ensure that the incidental promotion of liquor is

minimised.


It wrote:

Having viewed the item, the [Complaints] Committee noted that the shot to

which you refer is less than three seconds in duration and that because it is what

camera people would describe as a "wide shot" the DB Bitter logos actually

occupy a very small part of the screen.


Pointing out the standard required the minimisation of incidental promotion, TVNZ in

addition argued that considerable effort had gone into minimising the exposure of the

DB Bitter signs behind the heads of the people sitting at the table.

TVNZ also drew attention to the comment in the final sentence of guideline 8 of the

Programme Standards. Guideline 8 records in full:

8. Television broadcasters must film events in such a manner as to minimise

the incidental promotion of liquor even when they are broadcasting in

situations where they have little or no control over liquor promotions such

as the placement of signage at sports events, the placement of backdrops

for news conferences or the wearing of branded apparel. If the liquor

promotion is so extensive that the activity or individual cannot be filmed,

despite the best efforts of the camera crew, without the blatant intrusion

of liquor promotions, the broadcast of that material will breach A3.

However, standard A3 is not intended to require the total exclusion of all

incidental promotions when they are a normal feature of the situation

being televised.


Referring to the final sentence, TVNZ maintained that the signage was a normal

feature of the situation being televised and, on the basis that the incidental promotion

of liquor was minimised, it concluded that standard A3 had not been breached.

When he referred GOAL's complaint to the Authority, Mr Turner noted that TVNZ

had not dealt with the alleged breach of rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code. In its

report to the Authority, TVNZ stated that it was not prepared to make rulings under

that Code. In response, GOAL argued that, in view of the reference to the Voluntary

Sports Code in guideline 6 of the Programme Standards, the Code was in effect part of

the Programme Standards.

The first issue for the Authority was the status of the Voluntary Sports Code – a

Code which, as GOAL observed, is referred to and is appended to the Authority's

Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor.

The first relevant point, the Authority observed, was the date of the Programme

Standards – February 1995. The current Programme Standards followed on a recent

revision of the entire provisions in the Advertising Standards Authority's Code for

Advertising Liquor. The second point of relevance was the revised standard A3 of the

Programme Standards. It consists, as recorded above, of one straightforward

requirement – that the incidental promotion of liquor be minimised. The previous

standard A3 contained an additional four clauses by way of elaboration and

explanation. To the extent that those matters remain relevant, they are included as

aspects of the Guidelines. Guideline 8 was referred to TVNZ and is cited above.

Guideline 6 was noted by GOAL in its final comment and it provides:

6  Rules 1.1–1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code for Liquor Advertising and

Promotion on Television cover the positioning and the amount of ground

signage, product usage on camera, the size of the logos on uniforms of

players and administrators when they are filmed for television broadcasts

and the wearing of branded sports apparel on the other, non-sport related

television programmes. The broadcast of material which breaches Rule 1.1

–1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code or the principles of the Compliance

Addendum to that code will almost invariably breach the Programme

Standards for the Promotion of Liquor, particularly A1 and A3.


The Authority, in consultation with the broadcasters, is responsible for preparing and

administering the Programme Standards which, in relation to the promotion of liquor,

are numbered A1–A5 and include 10 interpretive guidelines. The New Zealand

Sports Assembly is responsible for the Voluntary Sports Code and it includes the

injunction:

The Code should be read in conjunction with the Broadcasting Standards

Authority Code for the Promotion of Liquor on Radio and Television, and the

Advertising Standards Authority Code for Advertising Liquor.


The statement which clearly explains the purpose of the Guidelines and the

relationship between the Programme Standards, the Guidelines and the Voluntary

Sports Code is one which is included in the introduction of the Guidelines. It states:

The following guidelines endorsed by the Broadcasting Standards Authority will

assist broadcasters in interpreting the above standards but a formal complaint

must be based on the standards, not these guidelines.

In other words, formal complaints to a broadcaster about the promotion of liquor

must allege a breach of standards A1–A5 and will be decided pursuant to those

standards. However, in arguing that a standard has been breached, a complainant may

refer to the Guidelines or the Voluntary Sports Code as evidence that the

interpretation advanced or the details of the breach alleged do in fact contravene the

nominated standards.

The current complaint alleged that the DB Bitter signs pinned to the front of the table

behind which the club spokespeople sat at a press conference contravened the

requirement to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor. Because the signs were a

"predominant feature" (the term used in rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code),

GOAL stated that that was evidence that incidental promotion had not been

minimised. TVNZ argued that standard A3 had not been contravened and in support

quoted guideline 8 which accepted that some incidental promotion was a normal

feature on a number of occasions – including press conferences.

Referring to the material advanced by the parties in support of their submissions, the

Authority noted that the item did indeed include some incidental liquor promotion but

that, standard A3 required the minimisation – not the absence – of liquor promotion. It

also noted that the incidental liquor promotion contained no references to liquor

advertisements in contravention of rule 1.6 of the Code.

Thus, the Authority's task was to decide whether the incidental liquor promotion had

been minimised as required by standard A3 and, having viewed the item, it accepted

that the signs which were visible to the viewer were a small part of a wide shot and

that the signage behind the head of one speaker was barely visible. It did not concur

with GOAL's argument that any of the signs which were visible were predominant.

Accordingly, it declined to uphold the complaint.

 

For the reasons given above, the Authority declines 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 - 14 May 1995

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

Turner, complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about an item of sports news

included on TV1's One Network News broadcast between 6.00 - 7.00pm on 12 May

1995.

The item dealt with rugby league and showed a number of men sitting at a table and,

Mr Turner wrote, "clearly visible in front of the table were two DB Bitter signs".

Expressing the opinion that it would have been possible to show the men but not the

signs, he alleged a breach of standard A3 of the Television Code of Broadcasting

Practice.

Furthermore, he wrote, the liquor signage was a predominant feature in breach of rule

1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code. That confirmed his opinion that standard A3 had

been breached as the guidelines to the standards stated that any breach of rule 1 of the

Voluntary Sports Code would almost invariably breach the Programme Standards.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 1 June 1995

Advising that the item had reported the entry of the Auckland Warriors into the new

Super League, TVNZ assessed the complaint under standard A3 - the nominated

standard.

TVNZ explained:

Having viewed the item, the [Complaints] Committee noted that the shot to

which you refer is less than three seconds in duration and that because it is what

camera people would describe as a "wide shot" the DB Bitter logos actually

occupy a very small part of the screen.

It was observed that the requirement of the standard is that the incidental

promotion of liquor be minimised. It seemed to the committee that there was

ample evidence that considerable effort had gone in to minimising the exposure

of the DB Bitter signs by shooting from behind the heads of the people at the

table, and by taking the comments of Sir Roger Douglas in a very tight close up.

However, it seemed to the committee that at some point in the item it was

necessary to give viewers an opportunity to see the news conference as a whole

- to give them an idea of what this event really looked like (the purpose of

television news surely?)

TVNZ referred to the guideline 8 which stated that standard A3 was not intended to

require the total exclusion of all incidental promotion when they were a normal

feature. The signage, it added, was a normal feature of the situation being televised.

TVNZ also acknowledged that the signage could have been avoided by zooming in but,

it added, viewers would then have not been aware of the high media interest in the

announcement. Incidental promotion of liquor, it maintained, had been minimised.

GOAL's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 6 June 1995

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.

Agreeing with TVNZ when it argued that the signage was a normal feature of the

situation being televised, Mr Turner pointed out that rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports

Code had not been addressed. Consequently, he asked whether the item had breached

rule 1.6.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 14 June 1995

In its report to the Authority, TVNZ made the following observations.

First, pointing to GOAL's concession that the signage was a normal feature, TVNZ

cited guideline 8 which states that standard A3 is not intended to exclude all incidental

promotions when they are a normal feature.

Secondly, it wrote:

We emphasise that there is evidence in this item that the camera team went to

great lengths to minimise the exposure of liquor promotions by shooting

pictures of the news conference from a number of angles. But, we suggest, there

had at some stage to be a shot (albeit brief) which showed the news conference

from the front.

As for the Voluntary Sports Code, TVNZ said it was responsible for what was

broadcast - it was not responsible for sports grounds or sports meetings.

GOAL's Final Comment to the Authority - 26 June 1995

In the final comment on GOAL's behalf, Mr Turner acknowledged that rulings were

sought from TVNZ on the basis of the Voluntary Sports Code. That was the

approach adopted because rule 1 (of that Code), in view of guideline 6 of the

Programme Standards, was in effect part of the Programme Standards for the

Promotion of Liquor.