BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Hamblyn and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-084 (28 January 2016)

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Julia Hamblyn
Promo for Aquarius
TV One


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

A promo for Aquarius, shown during Seven Sharp, included a brief shot of a partially clothed injured male character surrounded by female characters tending his wounds. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the ‘sexualised’ promo was inappropriate for a time when children could be watching television. The promo did not depict any sexual activity or full nudity, and the shot complained about was fleeting and indistinct. The content was consistent with expectations of a PGR classification and the host news and current affairs programme, and any child viewers would have likely been supervised by adults.

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


[1]  A promo for Aquarius, shown during Seven Sharp, included a brief two-second shot of a partially clothed injured male character surrounded by female characters tending his wounds.

[2]  Julia Hamblyn complained that the ‘sexualised’ promo was inappropriate for a time when children could be watching television.

[3]  The issue is whether the promo breached the good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The promo was broadcast on TV ONE at 7pm on 21 July 2015. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the promo breach broadcasting standards?

[5]  As Ms Hamblyn’s complaint raises similar issues under the good taste and decency, responsible programming and children’s interests standards, we have addressed these standards together.

[6]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts containing sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 The Authority will also consider the standard in relation to any broadcast that portrays or discusses material in a way that is likely to cause offence or distress.2 The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires broadcasters to ensure that programmes are correctly classified and screened in the appropriate time-band. The children’s interests standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. The purpose of the standard is to protect children from broadcasts which might adversely affect them.3

[7]  Ms Hamblyn said that she was ‘mortified’ and angry that her four-year-old daughter witnessed ‘such a sexualised image’ of a ‘naked [man]... draped by the also naked bodies of between four and six women’, which she considered represented ‘orgiastic activity’. Ms Hamblyn argued that while parents may be able to exercise discretion during news programmes, it was unreasonable to expect the same in relation to promos which screened without warning.

[8]  TVNZ argued that there is an expectation of adult supervision and discretion when watching news and current affairs programmes with children due to the fact these programmes often contain potentially disturbing material such as serious crime and natural disasters. TVNZ acknowledged that the complainant found some of the material in the promo disturbing, but given the absence of full nudity and sexual activity during the promo, it considered the promo was correctly classified and appropriate to screen during Seven Sharp. It concluded that the content of the promo was consistent with expectations of the host programme and that the interests of child viewers were adequately considered.

[9]  When we consider a complaint under any of the three nominated standards, we take into account relevant contextual factors, which here include:

  • the promo was broadcast in PGR time during Seven Sharp, which was unclassified
  • Aquarius was classified AO (Adults Only)
  • the nature of the programme promoted as an adult police drama series
  • the adult target audience of Seven Sharp
  • audience expectations of Seven Sharp.

[10]  Guideline 8b to the responsible programming standard states that when a promo screens during an unclassified host programme (including news and current affairs) in G or PGR time, the promo must be classified G or PGR and broadcasters should pay regard to the children’s interests standard. In order to find a breach of the nominated standards, we would have to make a finding that the promo exceeded its PGR classification and warranted a higher rating of AO. The relevant classifications are defined as follows in Appendix 1 to the Code:

PGR – Parental Guidance Recommended
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.
AO – Adults Only
Programmes containing adult themes and directed primarily at mature audiences.

[11]  We have carefully reviewed both the promo in question and the relevant scene from the full episode of Aquarius, and reached the conclusion that the promo was correctly classified PGR and therefore did not breach broadcasting standards.

[12]  We can understand Ms Hamblyn’s view that the shot complained about was sexualised and that viewers who noticed it may have interpreted it as depicting an orgy. However, having viewed extended footage from the programme provided to us by the broadcaster, we are satisfied that the brief shot did not actually depict any sexual activity or full nudity. What was shown was a male character after being beaten, partially naked but wearing an unbuttoned shirt and a cloth covering his groin area, having his wounds tended by four fully-clothed female characters. The shot was fleeting – only two seconds in length – and very dark and indistinct. Onscreen text reading ‘Tonight’ also obscured some of the scene. The combination of these factors in our view mitigated any sexual implications of the promo and meant that it was not of a level which would have offended a significant number of viewers or which warranted an AO classification.

[13]  Additionally, when watching current affairs programmes, including those which take a sometimes comedic or tongue-in-cheek approach such as Seven Sharp, audiences expect a certain amount of adult content. As noted by the broadcaster, the Authority has previously held that adult supervision is expected during unclassified news programmes, including those broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times, as these programmes may contain material that requires adult supervision or the exercise of discretion in relation to younger viewers.4 While the sexualised image within the promo was likely to be missed by any child viewers, largely due to its brevity, the expected adult supervision also limited the potential for children to be disturbed or alarmed by the promo.

[14] For these reasons, we are satisfied that the promo did not threaten standards of good taste and decency, that it was appropriately classified and scheduled, and that the broadcaster adequately considered children’s interests. We therefore do not uphold the complaint under Standards 1, 8 and 9.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Peter Radich
28 January 2016



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

1      Julia Hamblyn’s formal complaint – 26 July 2015
2      TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 18 September 2015
3      Ms Hamblyn’s referral to the Authority – 15 October 2015
4      TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 26 November 2015



1 Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112

2Practice Note: Good Taste and Decency (Broadcasting Standards Authority, November 2006)

3 E.g. Harrison and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-066

4Bracey and Ee and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2013-084