BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Gibson and Discovery NZ Limited - 2021-096 (27 October 2021)

Members
  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
Dated
Complainant
  • Wendy Gibson
Number
2021-096
Broadcaster
Discovery NZ Ltd
Channel/Station
Bravo

Summary  

[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

A promo of Killer Couples was aired during the programme Drop Dead Fred at 7.49pm. The Authority did not uphold a complaint the promo breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards. The Authority found the promo was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress and did not go beyond what was expected in a PG classification. It also found the promo did not include any violent content as envisaged by the violence standard.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Violence


The broadcast

[1]  On 1 August 2021 at 7.49pm, during the broadcast of the programme Drop Dead Fred, a promo of Killer Couples was aired.

[2]  The promo included a clip of knives and a man with a knife. The voiceover of the promo follows:

The two of them together, it was joyful. They share a bond like no other. She was someone who got her, who understood her. But what turns partners into partners in crime? It wasn't a love triangle. It was a love hexagon. They seemed to have a real attraction to things that were forbidden. The purpose of coming was specifically to kill. You're starting to realise that the person that you thought you knew, you don't. All new Killer Couples. Tuesday, 9.30pm, Bravo.

[3]  Drop Dead Fred is classified PG1 with advisory symbols L and C2 and Killer Couples is classified M3 with the advisory symbols V and C4.

The complaint

[4]  Wendy Gibson complained the promo breached the good taste and decency, children’s interests and violence standards for the following reasons:

  • The promo was not suitable for a PG audience and should not have been aired during a PG show.
  • The promo featured ‘scenes of murder with characters wielding knives’.
  • ‘The timing of the movie was at a time of the day when young people would be watching, being earlier than 8/8:30pm.’
  • The promo depicted far more violence and aggressive themes than the movie itself.

The broadcaster’s response

[5]  Discovery apologised for any offence the promo caused Ms Gibson and her family but did not uphold the complaint for the following reasons:

  • ‘Bravo takes care when scheduling its promos and the classification of a promo never exceeds that of a programme it is screened in. All promos are carefully assessed by our classification team to ensure they comply with the classification of the host programme.’
  • ‘The Committee is satisfied that none of the promos that screened within [the host programme] exceeded boundaries of the PG classification…the Killer Couples promo did not contain any overt or graphic violence which exceeded the boundaries of the PG classification.’
  • ‘Many of the promos that air during Bravo programmes are for programmes that target adult viewers which is a necessity given adults are the target audience for many of Bravo’s shows.’
  • ‘The Committee notes that Bravo is aimed at an adult audience and the profile of the Bravo audience for all day and for peak shows that 95% of the audience is aged 18 or over and that almost 90% is aged 30+. (These figures are for 2020, source Nielsen TAM.)’

The standards

[6]  The good taste and decency standard5 states current norms of good taste and decency should be maintained, consistent with the context of the programme. The standard is intended to protect audiences from content likely to cause widespread undue offence or distress, or undermine widely shared community standards.6

[7]  The children’s interests standard7 requires broadcasters to ensure children are protected from broadcasts which might adversely affect them. Material likely to be considered under this standard includes violent content or themes, offensive language, social or domestic friction and dangerous, antisocial or illegal behaviour where such material is outside the expectations of the programme’s classification.8

[8]  The violence standard9 requires broadcasters to exercise care and discretion when portraying violence. Violent content should be appropriate to the context of the programme, and classified carefully. Broadcasters should protect audiences by ensuring violent content is justified by context, and by ensuring viewers are adequately informed of likely content and warned if content is likely to disturb a significant number of viewers.10

Our analysis

[9]  We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

[10]  As a starting point, we considered the right to freedom of expression. It is our role to weigh up the right to freedom of expression against any harm potentially caused by the broadcast. We may only intervene when the limitation on the right to freedom of expression is reasonable and justified.11

Good Taste and Decency

[11]  The context in which content occurs, and the wider context of the broadcast, are relevant to assessing whether a broadcast has breached this standard.12 We have considered the relevant contextual factors including:

  • The promo aired at 7.49pm. Programmes rated M may be screened after 7.30pm.13
  • It aired on the Bravo channel which, as submitted by the broadcaster, is aimed at an adult audience.
  • The promo did not include actual depictions of violence, or killing. It only included some indication of Killer Couples’ content, particularly snippets of knives and a man with a knife walking up stairs with the voiceover: ‘The purpose of coming was specifically to kill’.
  • Drop Dead Fred is a family comedy with mature themes requiring parental supervision and rated PG-LC.

[12]  In this context, we are satisfied the promo was within audience expectations of the channel, in that particular timeslot, and was unlikely to cause widespread undue offence or distress.

[13]  We therefore do not uphold the complaint under this standard.

Children’s Interests

[14]  Under the children’s interests standard, promos are required to comply with the classification of the programme during which they screen.14 In this case the promo needed to meet the PG classification of the host programme Drop Dead Fred. PG programmes may contain material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult.

[15]  Context is an important consideration and the contextual factors discussed above in paragraph [11] are relevant to our consideration under this standard as well.15 Noting, in particular, the absence of any depictions of violence or murder, we are satisfied the promo did not exceed the requirements of the PG classification.

[16]  We therefore do not uphold the complaint under this standard.

Violence

[17]  The purpose of the standard is to protect audiences from unduly disturbing violent content.16 As discussed above, the promo did not include any violent content as envisaged by the standard. We therefore do not uphold this complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

  

Susie Staley
Acting Chair
27 October 2021    

 

 

Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1 Wendy Gibson’s complaint to Discovery NZ – 1 August 2021

2  Discovery’s response to Ms Gibson – 25 August 2021

3  Ms Gibson’s referral to the Authority – 25 August 2021

4  Discovery confirming no further comments – 31 August 2021


1 PG (Parental Guidance) are programmes containing material more suited for mature audiences but not necessarily unsuitable for child viewers when subject to the guidance of a parent or an adult. PG programmes may be screened at any time. (Guideline 2a)
2 C is the advisory symbol for content that may offend, and L indicates the programme contains language that may offend. (Guideline 2g)
3 The M (Mature Audiences) classification means the programme might contain violence, sexual material, offensive language, adult themes, nudity, or other content that some children and parents find challenging. The programme may contain content with a moderate impact and themes that require a mature outlook. M programmes may be screened between 9am and 3pm on weekdays (except during school and public holidays, as designated by the Ministry of Education) and after 7.30pm until 5am. (Guideline 2a)
4 The symbol V indicates the programme contains violence, and C indicates the content may offend. (Guideline 2g)
5 Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Code of Broadcasting Practice
6 Commentary: Good Taste and Decency, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 12
7 Standard 3 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
8 Guideline 3a
9 Standard 4 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
10 Commentary: Violence: Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 14
11 Freedom of Expression: Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 6
12 Guidelina 1a
13 Guideline 2a
14 Guideline 3i
15 Guideline 3c
16 Commentary: Violence: Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 14