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BSA round-up

By Steven | April 2, 2008

When showing graphic footage (such as autopsy photos) on the news, the broadcaster should use a warning, and put the graphic footage far enough into the news item to give parents a chance to turn off the TV. When running a story about a campaign against child abuse, showing some photos of the beaten body of an abused child, TVNZ did exactly this and got a delicate balance just right. Still, two BSA members felt that the warning (“viewers might find some images in this next report disturbing”) could have made specific reference to the autopsy photos.

More evidence that broadcasters are given a lot of leeway in taste and decency matters. See the autopsy photos above, and the BSA’s rejection of a raft of complaints against Californication, mostly for indecent language, sex and (top-half) nudity, and its green-lights to a skit about bogie-eating on a children’s programme, a partly visible breast in a promo for The Tudors, a comedy character describing his wife’s vagina as looking like “a pair of padded coathangers” after group sex, and nudity in How to look good naked. The BSA would also have okayed the screening of 9 Songs, which is basically explicit sex from beginning to end, on Sky and TelstraClear at 8:30, if there had been a proper warning.

Kudos to Fair Go for surviving a searching complaint about one of its programmes (and others here and here). When you’re dealing with messy disputes that always hurt someone’s reputation, it’s easy to make mistakes of fact or process that (a complainant asserts) leave a programme inaccurate or unfair. What’s more, the BSA says consumer advocacy programmes have to make special efforts to be scrupulously fair. Even when rejecting most of the grounds of a complaint, the BSA often finds one or two small parts justified. One of the big points in Fair Go‘s favour here was the fact that it sent a comprehensive list of its questions and concerns for the person to respond to, and fairly summarised his response. That practice is guaranteed to head off most complaints.

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority, General | 34 Comments »

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