BSA dismisses What Now complaint

The BSA has ruled that Paul Ellis' comment - 'Listen, next time I'm holding one of my balls, you're invited' on the popular children's TV show 'What Now', was simply a reference to the fairytale Cinderella. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
The BSA has ruled that Paul Ellis' comment - 'Listen, next time I'm holding one of my balls, you're invited' on the popular children's TV show 'What Now', was simply a reference to the fairytale Cinderella. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has dismissed a complaint that a segment on children's variety show What Now was "loaded with innuendo".

During an episode of the show, broadcast on TV2 at 8am on Sunday, August 15, the programme's hosts and two former New Zealand Idol judges, Paul Ellis and Frankie Stevens, participated in a spoof of television talent contests, called "Fairytale's Got Talent".

When asked what he thought of a contestant, Cinderella, judge Ellis said, "Listen, next time I'm holding one of my balls, you're invited" and voted for Cinderella to move on to the semi-finals.

Viewer Sarah O'Neil made a formal complaint to TVNZ, alleging the guest judge's comment breached standards of good taste and decency because it was "completely out of order on a kids show".

She argued "the statement [was] loaded with innuendo and older kids would have understood quite clearly what was meant" and that Paul Ellis was "normally found on late night adult comedy/comment style shows where they are always saying dodgy stuff".

"Saying something loaded with innuendo on kids' TV is wrong," Ms O'Neil said.

TVNZ argued the episode would not have offended or distressed viewers as children would have understood his comment as a reference to the fairytale, and that the comment was not sexual in nature.

"There was no sexual connotation or innuendo in the judge's comment. It was simply the judge making a comment that referred to the fairytale of Cinderella which involves the character of Cinderella going to a ball."

In its decision released yesterday, the BSA said while some adult viewers may have interpreted the comment as a double entendre, the programme's child target audience would have understood it to simply be a reference to Cinderella.

"Any potential sexual connotations would have gone over the heads of younger child viewers, and in any case we are not satisfied that Mr Ellis intended for the comment to carry a sexually suggestive meaning," the decision read.

"We therefore find that the comment was consistent with the programme's G rating and time of broadcast."

In another decision that also involved body parts and sexual innuendo, the BSA did not uphold a complaint made against TV One sports show Skoda Game On - Extra Time.

In the episode, which broadcast on Sunday, August 15 at 1pm, a female host interviewed a Russian-born New Zealand weightlifter who was part of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team.

During the interview, the female interviewer dipped her hands in weightlifting chalk and deliberately left hand prints on the backside of the weightlifter's tracksuit pants. The man laughed and showed the camera the result.

Later in the interview, the weightlifter took part in the Skoda Game On 60-second challenge, which required him to bench-press the reporter.

Afterwards the reporter told the weightlifter she enjoyed the experience, saying it was "better than a ride at Rainbow's End" before she patted the man's chest and arms and told viewers they felt "rock hard".

C J Palmer complained to broadcaster TVNZ alleging the programme had breached standards of good taste and decency, as the interviewer had "indulged in behaviour that was not only offensive to my family who were watching, but insulting to men in general".

The complainant said if the gender roles were reversed there would have been "absolutely no question" the reporter's actions would have been "unacceptable to many viewers".

TVNZ contended the item was not "sexist", and did not contain material likely to breach good taste and decency, such as sexual material, nudity, violence or coarse language and screened during a PGR timeslot and had an adult target audience.

The broadcaster said the interview was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, and the interviewer's actions were not meant to be taken seriously.

TVNZ said the weightlifter "had no problem with the treatment he received from the female reporter" and was aware that the interview would have a humorous element.

The BSA agreed with TVNZ in its decision and declined to uphold the complaint.

"In our view, the segment was an attempt to be light-hearted with the interviewer using an 'entertainment' approach to tell the story. Her attempt at humour would have fallen short for many viewers. However, while the weightlifter did appear uncomfortable at times with the approach taken and the body contact, he did willingly engage with her."

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