BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Harang and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2006-098

Members
  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Paul France
  • Diane Musgrave
Dated
Complainant
  • Kristian Harang
Number
2006-098
Programme
One News
Channel/Station
TV One

Tapu Misa declared a conflict of interest and declined to take part in the determination of this complaint.

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – footage of parade in Auckland promoting Erotica exhibition – included bare-breasted women riding as pillion passengers on motorcycles – comments both for and against the parade – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency and the interests of children


Findings

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – contextual factors – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – warning during news item – unaccompanied children unlikely to be watching – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1] Footage of bare-breasted women riding as pillion passengers on motorcycles was shown in an item on One News broadcast on TV One at 6.00pm on 23 August 2006. The women were taking part in a parade in Auckland’s Queen Street promoting the Erotica exhibition. The item outlined the controversy which arose before the parade and included views both for and against the parade.

Complaint

[2] Kristian Harang complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the item was in “bad taste” and set a “bad example” for teenagers about what behaviour was acceptable in public.

Standards

[3] TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standards 1 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.  They read:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Guidelines

1a   Broadcasters must take into consideration current norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs. Examples of context are the time of the broadcast, the type of programme, the target audience, the use of warnings and the programme’s classification. The examples are not exhaustive.

1b   Broadcasters should consider – and if appropriate require – the use of on-air visual and verbal warnings when programmes contain violent material, material of a sexual nature, coarse language or other content likely to disturb children or offend a significant number of adult viewers. Warnings should be specific in nature, while avoiding detail which may itself distress or offend viewers.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests

During children’s normally accepted viewing times, broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[4] TVNZ explained that the item was newsworthy as the parade had drawn a crowd of at least 20,000 and had come after some controversy because it was opposed by some city councillors.  Without opposition in previous years, TVNZ remarked, the parade had passed “almost unnoticed”.

[5] TVNZ acknowledged that the bare breasts could have been electronically obscured.  However, it had declined to do that as it would have suggested it was against the parade.  Rather, it did not have an opinion on either the parade or its participants and had included some “reasonably discreet” footage.  In view of the context, it did not regard the footage as gratuitous.

[6] TVNZ pointed out that news items were not subject to classification, but it had included a specific warning.  It declined to uphold the Standard 1 complaint.

[7] In support of its decision, TVNZ referred to Decision No. 2005-029 where the Authority declined to uphold a complaint about a news item which showed two women exhibiting their breasts in a street in Wellington in front of Prince Charles.  The Authority had noted that the nudity was relevant in context and the item had included a warning.

[8] Turning to Standard 9, TVNZ maintained that news was not a programme children would choose to watch.  Children who viewed the item were likely to be in the company of adults.  Moreover, declining to uphold the Standard 9 complaint, TVNZ wrote:

The [complaints] committee found it difficult to understand how a relatively harmless item which showed breasts being bared on Queen Street could be considered more damaging than news events dealing with such disturbing subjects as war, child abuse, murder, intolerance, dishonesty – and all other aspects of daily news which reflect our less than perfect world.

Referral to the Authority

[9] Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Harang referred his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[10] Mr Harang argued that most New Zealanders would object to seeing the bare-breasted women in the parade being treated as sex objects.

Authority's Determination

[11] The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.  The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

Standard 1 (good taste and decency)

[12] When the Authority determines a Standard 1 (good taste and decency) complaint it is required to take context into account.  The Authority notes the following relevant contextual factors:

  • the parade was newsworthy both in view of the controversy it had generated, and because it was watched by a huge crowd
  • the unclassified nature of the news
  • the warning which preceded the item. 

[13] The Authority also considers that the footage was not gratuitous or intended to titillate, but instead was part of an item that addressed the controversy surrounding the parade in a serious manner, presenting arguments both for and against it.

[14] In light of these contextual factors the Authority considers that the broadcast fell within the boundaries of the good taste and decency standard

Standard 9 (children’s interests)

[15] The Authority accepts that the broadcast occurred during children’s normally accepted viewing times.  It considers, however, that unaccompanied young children are unlikely to choose to watch news programmes. 

[16] The Authority concludes that the warning at the start of the item would have enabled those watching with children to respond appropriately.  Accordingly, the Authority concludes that TVNZ took into account the interests of child viewers, and did not breach Standard 9.

 

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
27 November 2006

Appendix

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

1     Kristian Harang’s formal complaint – 24 August 2006

2    TVNZ’s response to the complainant – 6 September 2006

3    Mr Harang’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 10 September 2006

4    TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 29 September 2006