BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

McDonald and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-004 (25 May 2021)

Members
  • Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Susie Staley MNZM
Dated
Complainant
  • Donald McDonald
Number
2021-004
Programme
Taranaki Hard
Broadcaster
Discovery NZ Ltd
Channel/Station
Three

Summary

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

The Authority did not uphold a complaint about a promo for Taranaki Hard. The Authority found the item was within audience expectations for a promo shown during an unclassified news programme. It did not actively promote or glamorise illegal behaviour nor was it likely to cause widespread undue offence or cause harm to children watching.

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


The broadcast

[1]  A promo for upcoming docu-series Taranaki Hard screened during Newshub Live at 6pm on 29 November 2020. The series follows ‘a diverse group of characters’ living in Waitara, which ‘comes with as many blessings as there are challenges, and although the young people who live here may be on their own paths, they all share the same spirit of “going hard” no matter what curveballs may come their way’.1

[2]  The promo featured soundbites from several participants in the docu-series and a number of short clips including a car with smoke coming off its tires, a miniature pony inside a house, a man urinating in a rubbish bin, a person water-skiing, people eating cake and one of the participants at work in the supermarket.

The complaint

[3]  Donald McDonald complained the item breached the law and order, good taste and decency and children’s interests standards and argued it depicted ‘juvenile behaviour’, was ‘promoting lawlessness’ and was ‘socially irresponsible’.

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  Discovery NZ Ltd did not uphold Mr McDonald’s complaint for the following reasons:

  • ‘Viewers would have understood the promo featured extracts of real life in a small community. The footage did not encourage the behaviour, it simply portrayed it.’
  • ‘We think it unlikely that regular news viewers would have been upset or offended by the brief excerpt of footage.’
  • The promo was not likely to ‘upset or alarm children’.
  • ‘The Standards Committee doubts any reasonable viewers would interpret the scenes shown in the Broadcast as seriously encouraging the audience to break the law or to promote any criminal or serious antisocial activity... at no time during the shooting process did the production encourage or facilitate antisocial or illegal behaviour’.

The standards

[5]  The law and order standard2 states broadcasters should observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order, taking into account the context of the programme and the wider context of the broadcast. Its purpose is to prevent broadcasts that encourage viewers to break the law, or otherwise promote, glamorise or condone criminal activity.3 It does not stop broadcasters from discussing or depicting criminal or illegal behaviour.4

[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 and the wider context of the broadcast. 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

Our analysis

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

[9]  Our task is to weigh the value of the programme, in terms of the right to freedom of expression and the public interest in it, against the level of actual or potential harm caused by the broadcast. The harm alleged is viewers may be encouraged to behave in anti-social ways.

[10]  The context of the programme and the wider context of the broadcast are important considerations when assessing potential harm under each of the standards raised.[9] Relevant contextual factors in this case include:

  • The promo was 30 seconds long.
  • It was made up of mostly soundbites from participants in the docu-series.
  • It was shown during an unclassified news programme, which children do not usually watch unsupervised.
  • The shot of the car with smoking tires made up a small proportion of the entire promo.
  • The promo is for a programme featuring extracts of real life in a small town.
  • The promo did not promote or glamorise illegal activity.

[11]  In this context, we do not consider the broadcast was likely to encourage illegal activity, cause widespread undue offence or cause any harm to child viewers.

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

 

Judge Bill Hastings

Chair

25 May 2021

 

Appendix

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

1  Donald McDonald’s complaint to Discovery NZ Ltd – 22 December 2020

2  Discovery NZ’s response to the complaint – 19 January 2021

3  Mr McDonald’s referral to the Authority – 19 January 2021

4  Discovery NZ’s confirmation of no further comments – 21 January 2021


1 Three Now “Taranaki Hard” <www.threenow.co.nz>
2 Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
3  Commentary: Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 15
4 As above
5 Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television 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 3b
9 Guidelines 5b, 1a and 3c