AUCKLAND, NZ—Despite the fact that verbal and written warnings were in place and the airings—at least one of them—took place during the appropriate time blocks, New Zealand’s Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has upheld complaints against two broadcasters for shows it considered “raunchy” and “soft porn.”
One of the shows is an American-produced comedy-drama—Hung—about a well-endowed high school teacher and sports coach in Detroit who prostitutes himself on the side for extra income. The show aired on TVNZ. The objectionable scene involved an act of oral sex, which, although no genitalia was shown, revealed enough for the Authority to agree that it “was prolonged, explicit and gratuitous, leaving nothing to the imagination and designed solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience.”
The complaints received were upheld despite the fact that Hung has an “adults-only” rating and airs after 10 p.m.
“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," BSA said. Similar complaints were levied against the distributors of Hung over a billboard in Auckland's Victoria Street that depicted the famous if fictitious bulge.
The other broadcaster, TV3, was cited over a “sexually charged” scene in the long-running early evening Australian soap opera Home and Away.
According to the New Zealand Herald, “The scene shows two adult characters, Liam and Martha, kissing before she straddles him on the kitchen table. It was found to have breached three standards relating to responsible programming, children's interests and good taste and decency.”
According to BSA, “This scene would have been alarming and distressing to young children when not subject to guidance,” and “went well beyond the level of sexual activity that should be included in a G-rated programme.”
TV3 disagreed. "Our appraisers looked at it, the standards committee looked at it,” said a company attorney. “We considered it in-house pretty carefully and formed a view that it was fine."
The station has actually posted the offending scene to its website so that its viewers can decide whether or not it is offensive.
Despite the apparent shame at having been called out over the programs, BSA condemnation carries no actual penalty other than the stations being required to publish the BSA decisions. However, they have 20 days to appeal the decisions.
Needless to say, so-called child protection groups in New Zealand applauded the decisions.
“Finally, the authority has put the welfare and protection of families before the rights of broadcasters to offend children and families with sexual and offensive content ... perhaps, finally, they have woken up,” said Family First NZ.
In response to a request for comment, the Australian Sex Party sent the following statement to AVN.
"We're so glad to see that the complaints were all about sex and nudity and not about the five murders, 10 assaults and two rapes that were screened on New Zealand TV that night," said Party spokesperson Robbie Swan. "Its good to see that the complaints from religious groups are in line with their general philosophies on life."