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Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1995-073

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • W J Fraser
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
Dated
Complainant
  • Group Opposed to Advertising of Liquor (GOAL)
Number
1995-073
Programme
Sportsnight
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

in an item on TV1's Sportsnight broadcast at 10.25pm on 12 May 1995.

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

Television New Zealand Ltd that the Warriors coach was shown twice with DB Bitter

signage behind him, and the extent of it on the first occasion had breached the

standards. Further, the standard was also contravened as a large Warriors emblem

which carried the words DB Bitter was visible behind the two speakers at the table.

Since the positioning of the table was prearranged, he maintained that the Voluntary

Sports Code was contravened as well.

Pointing out that efforts had been made to minimise the exposure of incidental liquor

promotion and that the liquor promotion screened did not amount to saturation,

TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint. 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.

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 press conference held on 12 May 1995, the management of the Auckland

Warriors rugby league club announced that the team had joined the new Super League.

Parts of the press conference were included on TV1's Sportsnight broadcast at

10.25pm that evening.

Mr Cliff Turner, secretary of GOAL, complained that the broadcast breached

standard A3 of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor and rule 1.6 of

the Voluntary Sports Code. Standard A3 had been contravened, he wrote, first, during

the shots showing the comments made by the Auckland Warrior coach John Monie.

DB Bitter advertising, he added, was clearly visible behind him on the first occasion he

was shown. Secondly, the standard had been breached as the Warriors' logo carrying

the words DB Bitter was visible behind the two speakers at the table. When one

speaker referred to "our sponsors", he continued, the camera zoomed in on him and

the words DB Bitter were clearly visible.

Moreover, as the positioning of the table had been pre-arranged, rule 1.6 of the

Voluntary Sports Code had been contravened which, in view of the Guidelines to the

Programme Standards, amounted to a breach of standards A1 and/or A3.

TVNZ noted that the coverage of the news conference on One Network News had

been the subject of a separate complaint and did not repeat its comments in response

to that complaint. (That complaint is the subject of Decision No: /95).

As for the alleged breach invoking rule 1.6, TVNZ said that the conference was not

"prearranged" in the sense that it had been involved in any way in its organisation. It

continued:

As indicated in the letter advising you of the decision on the "One Network

News" item, [TVNZ's] Complaints Committee believed that obvious efforts

were made to minimise the exposure of liquor promotion at the news conference

and that which was shown "was a normal feature of the event being televised",

as described in guideline 8.

The material behind the speakers at the table, it reported, was a poster displaying the

Warriors club logo which incorporated a brewery sponsor's "flash" but "this occupies

a very small part of the logo overall". TVNZ also stated:

In studying the interview with Mr Monie the committee recognised that the

camera operator was making obvious efforts to remove the liquor aspect on the

poster from his shot of Mr Monie. He was rather more successful in the second

appearance than in the first but in both cases he was clearly attempting to

comply with the standard while obtaining the comments which were necessary

and relevant for the editorial integrity of the item.


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

definition of the term "pre-arranged", observing:

The guidelines to the Programme Standards make it clear that if a sports body

places a spokesman in a position where liquor promotion is visible then there

will "almost invariably" be a breach of the Programme Standards if the

spokesman and the liquor promotion appear on television.


As for the shots of coach, Mr Monie, Mr Turner argued that if the camera operator

had been more successful in minimising incidental liquor promotion on the second

occasion, then it followed that the first shot was in contravention of the standards.

The Authority has dealt with the relationship between the Programme Standards, the

Guidelines and the Voluntary Sports Code in Decision No: /95 which dealt with the

complaint about the coverage of the same press conference on One Network News at

6.00pm. In view of that ruling, on this occasion it was required, first, to address the

definition of the term "pre-arranged" and then to decide whether incidental liquor

promotion was minimised as required by standard A3.

On the issue of a "pre-arranged interview" referred to in rule 1.6, the Authority agreed

with the definition advanced by Mr Turner on GOAL's behalf. TVNZ's involvement

in the arrangement was irrelevant to a ruling on whether the interview was pre-

arranged. However, the rule also refers to liquor signage as a "predominant feature".

As the liquor signage which was seen by viewers could not be described as a

"predominant feature" of the portrayal of the press conference, rule 1.6 was not of

assistance to the Authority when deciding whether standard A3 had been breached.

The Authority considered that the sign behind the speakers at the table was the club

logo of which the liquor signage was a small part. As for the signage behind the coach,

it appreciated GOAL's point that, because liquor promotion was minimised on the

second occasion, the first occasion contravened the standard. However, the Authority

accepted that TVNZ had also attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to minimise the

incidental promotion of liquor on the first occasion.

Accordingly, as liquor promotion was at no time a predominant feature – to make use

of the term in rule 1.6 as an interpretive aid – and as TVNZ had been attempting at all

times to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor, the Authority decided that the

broadcast had not breached standard A3.

 

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 - 15 May 1995

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

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about an item on TV1's Sportsnight

broadcast at 10.25pm on 12 May.

The item, Mr Turner wrote, twice showed John Monie, the coach of the Auckland

Warriors, sitting in front of DB Bitter advertising. A sufficient amount was shown on

the first occasion, Mr Turner continued, to breach standard A3 of the Television Code

of Broadcasting Practice.

Other members of the Warrior management were seen sitting at a table during the same

item and the Warriors logo containing the words DB Bitter was behind them. When

one speaker referred to the team's sponsor, Mr Turner said, the camera zoomed in on

him and, in breach of standard A3, the words DB Bitter were clearly visible.

Since the partitioning of the table was clearly pre-arranged, Mr Turner concluded,

there was a breach of rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports Code which, as the standards

noted, amounted almost inevitably to a breach of standards A1 or A4.

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

Advising GOAL that the item covered the entry of the Auckland Warriors into the

Super League, TVNZ said the complaint had been assessed under the nominated

standards.

TVNZ referred to its response to GOAL's complaint about the coverage of the same

news conference broadcast on One Network News when shots had shown DB signs

pinned to the front of the table behind which the club spokespeople had sat.

As for the aspect of this complaint which alleged that the conference was pre-

arranged, TVNZ said the news conference had been set up for, and attended by, all

branches of the news media. The Auckland Warriors, not TVNZ, had decided on

location and layout and, TVNZ wrote:

As indicated in the letter advising you of the decision on the "One Network

News" item, the Complaints Committee believed that obvious efforts were made

to minimise the exposure of liquor promotion at the news conference and that

which was shown "was a normal feature of the event being televised", as

described in guideline 8.

It did not believe that the liquor logos amounted to saturation of liquor

promotion and that therefore A1 was not breached. Because the exposure was

minimised A3 was not endangered, and A4 was not relevant because no studio

was involved.

TVNZ also pointed out that the material behind the speakers identified by Mr Turner

as liquor promotion was in fact a poster displaying the Warriors club logo which

incorporated a very small brewery sponsor's flash.

Declining to uphold the complaint, TVNZ added:

In studying the interview with Mr Monie the committee recognised that the

camera operator was making obvious efforts to remove the liquor aspect on the

poster from his shot of Mr Monie. He was rather more successful in the second

appearance than in the first but in both cases he was clearly attempting to

comply with the standard while obtaining the comments which were necessary

and relevant for the editorial integrity of the item.

The committee concluded that the interview with Mr Monie complied with

requirements to minimise the incidental promotion of liquor and rule that A3 had

not been breached.

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

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.

Mr Turner did not accept TVNZ's argument that because it was not involved in the

pre-arrangement of the news conference, it could not be held responsible for any

breach of the standards which followed should of rule 1.6 of the Voluntary Sports

Code be contravened.

The guidelines to the standards, he maintained, indicated that if a sports body placed a

person in a position where liquor promotion was visible, then a breach of the

programme standards was "almost" inevitable should the spokesperson and liquor

promotion appear on television.

Mr Turner observed:

Dealing with the interview with Mr Monie TVNZ says that the camera operator

was "rather more successful in the second appearance than in the first". If that

is the case it follows that the incidental promotion was not minimised in the first

shot of Mr Monie.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 14 June 1995

TVNZ advised the Authority that it had nothing to add to its letter to GOAL dated 1

June.