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TV Censorship in New Zealand

Easily offended Broadcasting Standards Authority


Distressing news...

New Zealand's TV censor fines Sky News for broadcasting extensive excerpts from Brenton Tarrant's murderous live stream

Link Here20th August 2019
Full story: TV Censorship in New Zealand...Easily offended Broadcasting Standards Authority
New Zealand's Sky News has been fined NZ$4,000 for airing footage from a live stream of the Christchurch massacre.

The country's TV censors of the Broadcasting Standards Authority fined Sky NZ $4,000 (2,100) for airing extensive and obviously news worthy excerpts from the alleged attacker's live stream video, claiming that the video had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community.

The footage was a retransmission by Sky News New Zealand of a 24-hour feed from Sky News Australia, a separate, independent company.

The chief censor Bill Hastings, said the New Zealand television broadcasters faced unprecedented circumstances in the hours following the attack, and they played a critical role in keeping New Zealanders informed, but they also had to consider their role in protecting the community from undue harm and trauma and they needed to exercise a high level of care and discretion at all times.

Two complaints were also lodged against state funded broadcaster TVNZ who aired short clips from the live stream video but these complaints were not upheld by the authority.


14th January

Update: A Handful of TV Complaints...

And New Zealand nutters claim that the county's is going to the dogs

Sex and strong language on TV shows such as Outrageous Fortune has seen an increase in complaints to New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority over the past five years.

The authority claims increasing complaints reflect the unease some feel at the speed of change in community standards, but nutter group Family First says those standards are being dragged lower by the authority's permissive stance.

The number of complaints received by the BSA which primarily related to issues of taste and decency rose by almost 50% last year to 96 of which 47 were upheld, according to the authority's annual report.

While last year's numbers were inflated by a rash of complaints about broadcaster Paul Henry, the increase was also driven by complaints about frequent coarse language used on Outrageous Fortune and sex scenes from the programme that were shown on 3News at 6.35pm.

Bob McCoskrie, head of Family First, said the trend of increasing complaints on issues of good taste and decency reflected growing public unease about the graphic content and profanity of many TV shows.

A recent survey of 600 young New Zealanders aged 15 to 21 commissioned by Family First reported 57% of females and 45 per cent of males agreed there was too much sex, violence, bad language on TV .

McCoskrie said the survey showed greater concern about sex, profanity and violence on television among older survey respondents:

Our concern is that for the younger ones, 15 to 17, it becomes normalised which is our concern with broadcasting standards full stop in what you allow. The BSA tries to argue that they're representing community standards. We argue that they're creating community standards by normalising it.

But BSA chairman Peter Radich said standards of good taste and decency were changing as they always had:

The pace of change is quickening and this is partly through the influence that the unregulated internet has, more especially on younger people.

Some people find the pace of change unsettling and, as they are entitled to do, they complain. Complaints allow broadcasts to be measured against standards, they allow temperatures to be taken, and for our part, they are welcomed.


24th April

Update: Hung Jury...

New Zealand TV company wins court case against the censorship of Hung

TVNZ has won a battle against the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority, which it believes has become increasingly conservative since its panel was reconstituted last year.

The High Court has ruled that an oral sex scene on the show Hung was not gratuitous, and that the authority was plainly wrong to rule against it.

The broadcaster says it is concerned at a number of decisions that lack consistency, and in our opinion fail to interpret public expectations correctly . TVNZ suggested that a review of the structure and operation of broadcasting standards regulation may be timely .

It indicated last week that it would return to the High Court to challenge the ruling against the Sunday programme in which a police officer used the f-word when describing his heat-of-the-moment exchange with Aramoana killer David Gray.

TVNZ and TV3 joined forces last month to take the authority to the High Court over rulings against Hung and TV3's soap opera Home and Away .

Justice Asher ruled in favour of TVNZ over the Hung decision on the grounds that it was plainly wrong .  The authority had said the scene, in which the main character -- a male prostitute -- gives a woman oral sex, was solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience . Justice Asher disagreed, saying the scene occurred late at night, in an AO-rated show in which sex plays an inevitable part of the narrative .

However Justice Asher upheld the decision against the Home and Away scene, in which a young girl was shown straddling and kissing a boy while wearing only a bra.

That ruling could prove more significant because it rejected a number of approaches the broadcasters were relying on for their appeals. TV3 had argued the authority ignored its own previous similar rulings, ignored context and the content of other G-rated programmes, and gave insufficient reasons.


22nd September

Nutter Hang-Ups...

New Zealand TV censor has a whinge at TV drama, Hung

A scene implicitly depicting oral sex and genital nudity in an episode of Hung shown on TV One breached the good taste and decency standard, a majority of the Broadcasting Standards Authority has found.

Hung is a comedy-drama series about a divorced and financially struggling father, Ray Drecker, who starts working as a male prostitute.

In the episode broadcast on TV One at 9.50pm on Monday 22 March, Ray went on a date with a woman called Lenore.

At approximately 10.10pm Ray was shown lifting up Lenore's skirt and removing her underwear. One brief shot of Lenore's genital area was shown in the scene, which was shot at a short distance in front of her.

Lenore then sat down on a couch and placed her legs over Ray's shoulders. Ray crouched with his head between Lenore's legs and performed oral sex. Lenore's legs and torso were visible as Lenore writhed and moaned on the couch. The top half of Lenore's body was fully clothed and her genital area was obscured by Ray's head.

A formal complaint was made to Television New Zealand that the scene amounted to soft porn .

In response TVNZ said that the programme had screened at 9.50pm, which was over an hour after the 8.30pm Adults Only (AO) watershed, was classified AO, and was preceded by a written and verbal warning.

The scene complained about had been relatively brief, not detailed, obviously acted and important in the context of the series, TVNZ said.

In its decision a majority of the BSA found that that although the context went some way to alerting viewers to the challenging nature of the programme, the content complained about went well beyond the level of sexual material that viewers would expect to see on free-to-air television.

In the majority's view, the scene complained about was prolonged, explicit and gratuitous, leaving nothing to the imagination and designed solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience, the decision said.

In these circumstances factors such as the programme's AO classification and the use of a written and verbal warning were not sufficient to prevent the broadcast breaching standards of good taste and decency, the decision said.

The BSA did not make any orders, saying that publication of the decision would be sufficient to clarify its expectations surrounding sexual content of this nature.

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