BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Group Against Liquor Advertising and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1995-128

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
Dated
Complainant
  • Group against Liquor Advertising (GALA)
Number
1995-128
Channel/Station
TV2


Summary

The quarter final Winfield Cup game between Manly and Cronulla was shown on Lion

Red Big League starting at 5.30pm on TV2 on 3 September 1995.

On behalf of the Group Against Liquor Advertising (GALA), Mr Turner complained

that between 5.30–5.40pm there were eight liquor promotions. He considered that

such a number in that period amounted to saturation of liquor promotions in

contravention of the standards.

Explaining that the standard referred to a "viewing period" which in this instance

amounted to at least the first half – if not the full game, TVNZ said that the liquor

promotions during that period did not give an impression of saturation. Dissatisfied

with TVNZ's response, Mr Turner on GALA's behalf 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 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.

Sydney teams Manly and Cronulla met in a quarter final of the NSW Winfield Cup

rugby league competition and the game was featured on TV2's Lion Big Red League

starting at 5.30pm on Sunday 3 September. The game itself began at about 5.45pm

and eight liquor promotions were broadcast between the start of the broadcast and the

start of the game. The promotions consisted of six visual promotions, one verbal

sponsorship credit and one sponsorship advertisement for league.

On behalf of the Group Against Liquor Advertising (GALA), Mr Cliff Turner

complained that the broadcast of eight liquor promotions in under 10 minutes

amounted to saturation promotion in breach of programme standard A1.

Standard A1 of the Programme Standards for the Promotion of Liquor reads:

A1  Saturation of liquor promotions, separately or in combination, must be

avoided.


The Standards include the following definition:

"Saturation" refers to a degree of exposure which gives the impression that

liquor promotion is dominating that viewing or listening period.


One of the 10 Guidelines to the Standards was also relevant to the parties:

2  As a general guideline, broadcasters will avoid creating the

impression that liquor promotions dominate the viewing or listening

period if no more than one brief liquor promotion including a name

association or sponsorship credit (not exceeding six seconds), is

broadcast every three minutes averaged over the duration of the

viewing or listening period. A simultaneous visual and verbal

mention will count as two mentions.


In its response to GALA, TVNZ focussed on the term "viewing period" in the

definition and argued that the first half of the game – if not the full game – was the

appropriate "viewing period". As the full game lasted two hours, TVNZ argued that

there had not been a saturation of liquor promotions during that time.

When he referred GALA's complaint to the Authority, Mr Turner argued that the

impression of liquor promotion was reinforced by the size of some of the sponsorship

credits, observing; "the only thing on screen was a large display of the words Lion

Red Big League". He also referred to an earlier decision from the Authority (No:

141/93) where the Authority had accepted that a three minute commercial break

amounted to a "viewing period". He continued:

If a three-minute commercial break can be regarded as a viewing period there

seems to be no good reason why a period from the beginning of a programme to

the end of the first commercial break should not also be considered a viewing

period.


In its report to the Authority, TVNZ pointed out that Decision No: 141/93 was

concerned with the number of liquor advertisements in one commercial break. Liquor

advertisements, it added, were substantially different products to the sponsorship

credits being examined on this occasion.

Referring to Decision No: 122/94 where the Authority had ruled that short extracts

from a programme could not be defined as a viewing period, TVNZ argued that the

period of less than ten minutes nominated by GALA did not amount to a "reasonable"

viewing period.

In the final comment, on GALA's behalf, Mr Turner began:

It seems that the resolution of this complaint will hinge upon the definition of

"viewing period". It is unfortunate that the Authority has given what I believe

to be contradictory opinions on what constitutes a viewing period.


He then reviewed a number of decisions in the past four years where the Authority

had examined the concept of saturation of liquor promotions. Taking into account the

direction in guideline 2 (referred to above) that a programme should not include more

than one liquor promotion each three minutes when averaged over the entire

programme, Mr Turner concluded that the intention was not to allow a high

percentage of the allowable credits to be broadcast during a small percentage of the

entire broadcast period.

In determining the complaint, the Authority focussed on the standard cited (A1)

which requires broadcasters to avoid the saturation of liquor promotions. That

requirement is expanded in the definition which states that saturation occurs when

liquor promotions give "the impression" of saturating the viewing period.

Because of the complaints received in the past, the Authority has developed some

technical guidelines which it has used to assist in the determination of the earlier

complaints. Those guidelines, however, are preceded by one which reads:

1  Broadcasters are expected to comply with the spirit as well as the letter of

this code.

That guideline, the Authority observed, suggested that complaints should be

determined without resort to the technical directions if possible.

On that basis, the Authority viewed the introduction to the league game which was

broadcast to see whether it gave an impression that liquor promotions dominated. The

period between the start of the broadcast and the start of the game included some

build-up for the game, composition of the teams, a record of some of their previous

performances, and a number of advertisements. The Authority felt some concern

about the size of the sponsorship credits. As GALA pointed out, the words Lion Red

Big League filled the screen and while not a liquor advertisement, the Authority

considered them to be at the boundary of acceptability for a sponsorship credit.

Nevertheless, in view of the variety of shots and advertisements, the Authority

concluded that the period complained about did not involve an impression of the

saturation of liquor promotions in contravention of standard A1.

 

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


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judith Potter
Chairperson
16 November 199


Appendix

GALA's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 5 September 1995

On behalf of the Group Against Liquor Advertising (GALA), Mr Cliff Turner

complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about Lion Red Big League broadcast by

TV2 at 5.30pm on 3 September 1995.

In the first 9 minutes 45 seconds, he wrote, there had been eight liquor promotions for

Lion Red - consisting of six visual promotions, one verbal sponsorship credit and a

sponsorship advertisement.

Mr Turner stated that eight liquor promotions in under 10 minutes amounted to

saturation promotion in breach of standard A1 of the Television Code of Broadcasting

Practice.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 19 September 1995

Assessing the complaint under the nominated standard, TVNZ referred to an earlier

complaint from Mr Turner about the broadcast of Lion Red Big League on 11 August

1995 (for which a decision had not been issued).

In response to that earlier complaint, TVNZ said that a short period from a

programme could not be extracted from the full programme in view of the phrase

"viewing period" in the standard. It wrote:

We respectfully suggest that if you were to take a legitimate viewing period

from this programme - perhaps the first half of the game, or even the whole

match - you could not find that there had been a saturation of liquor promotions.

For the record we note that the programme lasted two hours. In the short

portion you describe no promotion exceeded five seconds in duration apart from

a sponsorship commercial legitimately contained in a commercial break.

Pointing out that the sponsorship symbols were confined to commercial breaks after

the game started, TVNZ maintained that the standard had not been contravened.

GALA's Complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 26 September

1995

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, on GALA's behalf Mr Turner referred the

complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the

Broadcasting Act 1989.

Maintaining that eight liquor promotions within the first minutes amounted to

saturation, Mr Turner addressed TVNZ's argument that the impact of liquor

promotions had to be considered against the duration of the entire programme.

In Decision No: 87/92, he recalled, the Authority had intimated that it would have

upheld a saturation complaint about a short item if one had been made. Further, in

Decision No: 141/93, the Authority had said that a three-minute commercial break

could amount to a viewing period. He continued:

If a three-minute commercial break can be regarded as a viewing period there

seems to be no good reason why a period from the beginning of a programme to

the end of the first commercial break should not also be considered a viewing

period.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 3 October 1995

TVNZ responded to the points made by GALA. Decision No: 87/92, it argued, had

referred to a sponsorship advertisement. It had not been a two hour programme like

that which had been broadcast on 3 September. Further, viewers were unlikely to

abandon watching the broadcast of the quarter-final after the first ten minutes and, it

maintained, the viewing period must be taken as at least the first half of the game.

TVNZ argued that Decision No: 141/93 was not relevant as it had been concerned

with the number of liquor advertisements in a three minute commercial break. Liquor

advertisements, it added, belonged to a different category to sponsorship

acknowledgments. It wrote:

Liquor advertising, when screened, seeks to attract the viewer's complete

attention where the liquor company references contained in this programme are

associated with either the programme's title, the liquor company's sponsorship

of rugby league, or are incidental sponsorship acknowledgments associated with

on-screen graphics providing information relevant to the game.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority decision we do believe to be relevant here

is 122/94 which ruled that short extracts from a programme could not be defined

as a "viewing or listening period".

GALA's Final Comment - 9 October 1995

In his response on GALA's behalf, Mr Turner noted that the resolution of the

complaint would probably hinge on the definition of the "viewing period" and that it

was unfortunate that contradicting opinions on this matter had been previously given

by the Authority.

In No: 87/92, Mr Turner noted, the Authority implied that a single sponsorship

advertisement could be regarded as a viewing period. A different decision was given in

No: 122/94 but that had referred to several small Steinlager logos. In the current

complaint, the "Lion Red Big League" signs filled the screen and there was no other

action to distract a viewer. Moreover, he wrote, in No: 122/94 the Authority had

stated that its decision was influenced by the fact that the logos were "placed

unobtrusively on the screen".

Mr Turner also referred to No: 24/92 where the Authority upheld a complaint that a

short news item breached the requirement in the Sports Assembly Code to ensure that

the exposure of logos on apparel did not give an impression of saturation. He

maintained:

Assuming that the definition of saturation is the same in the sports code as it is

in the programme standards, it is clear that by upholding the complaint the

Authority accepted that the short sports news item constituted a viewing

period. The Authority did not argue that the question of saturation should take

into account the length of the news bulletin in which the item was enveloped.

The short item was treated as a viewing period.

As for TVNZ's argument that No: 141/93 was not relevant as it dealt with the number

of liquor advertisements in a commercial break, Mr Turner said that it accepted

nevertheless that a three minute commercial break amounted to a viewing period.

In the present complaint, he continued, the period under consideration was from the

start of the programme to the end of the first commercial break - a period which he

maintained amounted to a viewing period.

Mr Turner then referred to the Authority ruling (No: 151/93 - 155/93) that

sponsorship credits should not occur, on average, more than once every three minutes

and argued:

I do not believe that when it did this it intended to give to broadcasters the right

to cram a plethora of sponsorship credits into the opening minutes of the

programme. I believe that the intention was to allow sponsorship credits to be

evenly spread, approximately three minutes apart, during a programme. The

"quota" for a two hour programme is 40 credits; TVNZ used 20% of this quota

in about 8% of the programme.

Mr Turner concluded:

The argument that the degree of saturation in any given part of a programme is

directly proportional to the total length of the programme is open to ridicule. It

says that a viewer who sees eight liquor sponsorship credits in the first ten

minutes of a two hour programme is less likely to gain an impression of

saturation than a viewer who sees exactly the same promotions in the first ten

minutes of a half hour programme.