Research Ngā Rangahau

Litmus Testing of BSA Decisions Good Taste and Decency 2011/2012

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Date published:
June 2012

Research Company: Nielsen Corporation


  • Help ascertain where BSA decisions sit relative to public opinion in relation to the Good Taste and Decency standard.
  • Evaluation of whether BSA decisions are presented and communicated in a clear, accessible and easy to understand way (given recent focus on improving these communications).


  • Four focus group meetings were conducted in Auckland.
  • Three groups were in age brackets and one group included recent complainants.
  • Attention was placed on having varied ethnicity and gender in the groups.
  • Each group were shown clips from broadcasts that were the subject of complaints.

Context for Interpretation of Results

  • Participants were shown clips rather than the whole programme (BSA decisions have to take into account the programme as a whole).
  • The artificial context and construct of the exercise means that participants may have been more critical than they would normally be.
  • Time constraints restricted discussion around the harm caused by viewing the content and the harm in restricting access to it – a critical component in BSA determinations.
  • As lay people, participants experienced difficulty in separating out the different standards.


  • Initial concern often focused on issues that might be better related to the Children’s Interests standard. For example, the possibility of children being confronted accidentally by the material at the watershed time.
  • There were concerns about timeslots.
  • There was dissenting opinion regarding whether the BSA reached the right decisions.
  • The response to revised formatting of decisions was positive, specifically: language easier to understand, the use of questions as headings makes it easier to delineate the different standards and the summary at the end makes for quick reading.