Harang and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-073
- Peter Radich (Chair)
- Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
- Mary Anne Shanahan
- Leigh Pearson
- Kristian Harang
BroadcasterTelevision New Zealand Ltd
Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]
A One News item reported on controversy surrounding a performance by female artist Miley Cyrus at the ‘2013 MTV Video Music Awards’ where she engaged in a provocative dance called ‘twerking’ while wearing a nude-coloured PVC bikini. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the footage was offensive to broadcast during prime time family viewing. The footage was provocative and challenging, but was relevant as it illustrated for viewers why the performance had attracted worldwide publicity. Earlier coverage and the presenter’s introduction signposted the likely content and gave viewers an opportunity to exercise discretion. The item did not threaten standards of good taste and decency in the context of an unclassified news programme targeted at adults.
Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency
 An item on One News reported on controversy surrounding a performance by female artist Miley Cyrus at the ‘2013 MTV Video Music Awards’ where she engaged in a provocative dance called ‘twerking’ while wearing a nude-coloured PVC bikini. The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 4 September 2013.
 Kristian Harang made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that footage of ‘a scantily clad young lady dancing around a singer… using sex to appeal to the audience’ was offensive to broadcast in prime time family viewing.
 The issue is whether the broadcast breached the good taste and decency standard, as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.
 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 broadcast threaten current norms of good taste and decency?
 The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain sexual material, nudity, coarse language or violence.1 This complaint alleges inappropriate sexualised imagery broadcast during prime time.
 While the footage was provocative and challenging and obviously not to everyone’s taste, it was the nature of Miley Cyrus’ performance that attracted controversy and worldwide publicity, becoming ‘tabloid news’ in its own right. The inclusion of the footage was therefore relevant in illustrating for viewers why the performance had attracted such widespread attention. By the time of this broadcast, the focus was Miley Cyrus’ response to the controversy generated, and many people would have already heard about the performance. The newsreader’s introductory comment, ‘Pop star Miley Cyrus is defending her raunchy performance that provoked a storm of outrage’ [our emphasis], gave a clear indication of the likely content. In this sense, viewers, including parents and caregivers, were adequately warned of the item’s subject matter and provided with a sufficient opportunity to exercise discretion.
 Further, there is an expectation that unclassified news programmes, including those broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times, will contain content that may be inappropriate for children, and so adult supervision is expected.
 Accordingly, we find that the broadcast of the footage during an unclassified news programme did not threaten current norms of good taste and decency and we decline to uphold the complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
19 December 2013
The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Kristian Harang’s formal complaint – 17 September 2013
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 15 October 2013
3 Mr Harang’s referral to the Authority – 22 October 2013
4 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 13 November 2013
1Turner and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-112