BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Wilson and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2013-069

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Brian Wilson
One News
TV One

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

A One News item reported highlights of the ‘2013 MTV Video Music Awards’ and included footage of a female artist, Miley Cyrus, performing a provocative dance called ‘twerking’ while wearing a nude-coloured PVC bikini. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that the footage was inappropriate for broadcast during the news. The footage, while not to everyone’s taste, was relatively brief in the context of the item, which featured a number of highlights, and gave a flavour of what had occurred without being gratuitous. The inclusion of the footage was relevant in illustrating why the performance had generated worldwide media attention. Overall, the item was acceptable in the context of an unclassified news programme targeted at adults.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Responsible Programming


[1]  An item on One News at 6pm reported on the highlights of the ‘2013 MTV Video Music Awards’ and included footage of a female artist, Miley Cyrus, performing a provocative dance called ‘twerking’ while wearing a nude-coloured PVC bikini. The item was broadcast on TV ONE on 26 August 2013.

[2]  Brian Wilson made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the footage of a ‘scantily clad [female singer] in a provocative pose gyrating her buttocks close to the crutch of a male’ was totally unacceptable for broadcast during One News.

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

[4]  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?

[5]  The good taste and decency standard (Standard 1) is primarily aimed at broadcasts that contain 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

[6]  The item subject to complaint reported on the highlights of the ‘2013 MTV Video Music Awards’, and the performance by Miley Cyrus was just one of the highlights mentioned. The footage, while obviously not to everyone’s taste, was relatively brief in the context of the item, and we agree with TVNZ that it gave a ‘flavour of what had occurred’ without being gratuitous. The performance attracted worldwide publicity and became ‘tabloid news’ in its own right, for the very reason that it had been criticised by some for being overly ‘raunchy’ and ‘sexual’ – especially as Miley had formerly worked with Disney – so the inclusion of brief footage was relevant in illustrating for viewers why the performance had attracted such widespread attention. As the footage was shown, the reporter noted, ‘One of the night’s most talked about moments will certainly be Miley Cyrus’ incredibly raunchy duet with Robin Thicke; many left wondering where the former Disney star had disappeared to.’

[7]  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.

[8]  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 under Standard 1.

Did the broadcast breach the responsible programming standard?

[9]  The responsible programming standard (Standard 8) requires that programmes are correctly classified, and not presented in such a way as to cause panic, unwarranted alarm or undue distress.

[10]  TVNZ considered that the footage was consistent with audience expectations of material screened in an unclassified news bulletin.

[11]  As the footage was broadcast during One News which is not required to be classified, and was not presented in a way that would have caused unwarranted alarm or distress. The likely content was signposted by the item’s subject matter, and had already been the subject of widespread publicity.

[12]  We therefore decline to uphold this part of the complaint.


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
19 December 2013


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

1                  Brian Wilson’s formal complaint  – 27 August 2013

2                 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 25 September 2013

3                 Mr Wilson’s referral to the Authority – 5 October 2013

4                 TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 13 November 2013

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

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