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Bad Target practice

By Steven | February 19, 2013

Don’t like a decision of the Broadcasting Standards Authority? Well, just ignore it. That’s what the consumer TV programme Target seems to have done.

Back in 2007, the BSA made it clear that Target is invading trade workers’ privacy when it invites them into its mock home for its hidden camera trials. That doesn’t mean it can’t air those trials. But it should be pixilating their faces unless it gets consent for the broadcast from the workers themselves, or uncovers something sufficiently in the public interest to warrant showing their identities. Minor slip-ups aren’t enough. So a home care worker who read from the “patient’s” handbag, or left a front door open, or took chocolate out of the fridge, doesn’t tip the public interest scales far enough.

In short, you have to do something really bad (or provide your consent) before Target can identify you and broadcast its critique of you doing your job on national TV.

Last year, Target tackled electricians. It criticised the safety practices of one of the tradesman’s apprentices, but overall rated him seven out of ten. The application of broadcasting standards can be tricky. But not here. This plainly called for pixilation. Target didn’t.

It tried to argue that it had contacted the employer, and put the criticisms to it, and  requested content. It received no reply. So this was “implied consent,” TVWorks argued.

But this was virtually identical to the argument it made in 2007, and which was explicitly rejected by the BSA. “An employer cannot give informed consent on behalf of the employee…” it wrote. “Accordingly, the Authority considers it irrelevant that none of the employers objected to the broadcast.”

My take is that Target simply flouted the BSA’s ruling because it didn’t like it. I find that shocking. Almost as shocking, in fact, as Target’s disgraceful treatment of Cafe Cezanne in 2010. The tradesman didn’t seek any penalty (he just wanted his image pixilated in the online version - something ironically the BSA does not have the power to order, though TV3 did it voluntarily). But I think the BSA should have come down harder on TVWorks and imposed a financial penalty for its repeat offending. Sheesh. Someone should do a hidden camera trial on Target.

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority |

One Response to “Bad Target practice”

  1. ross Says:
    February 20th, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    The BSA said that the complainant didn’t ask for an order to be made, and:

    “We also take into account that the complainant was not shown doing anything embarrassing or unsatisfactory and so the level of harm to his reputation and dignity was to some extent reduced (though this does not affect our finding that there was an intrusion into his interest in seclusion).”

    But it does raise the question of why TV3 feels the need to show the persons it secretly films.

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