A reality dating show that features nudity has been given the seal of approval from the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Two episodes of Naked Attraction aired in New Zealand in October and November last year and subsequently 13 people complained to the BSA.
The show involves a clothed person choosing a date from six naked people, whose naked bodies are gradually revealed in stages from the feet up. The nudity was not blurred or pixelated in the episodes broadcast.
Viewers argued the programme should not have been allowed to air because of the high level of full-frontal nudity and sexual discussion.
Some described the programme as "pornographic" and degrading to the programme participants and human relationships in general.
After reviewing complaints, the BSA has found the show was acceptable to broadcast but a stronger content warning for audiences was needed.
In its decision the authority recognised the important right to freedom of expression, which is fundamental in broadcasting and may only be limited where that is justified – to avoid actual or potential harm that may be caused by a broadcast.
In deciding whether the show was acceptable for broadcast, the authority accepted that the level of nudity went beyond what most viewers would be used to on free-to-air television in New Zealand.
However, the authority noted that the programme was substantially about the naked human body, and "nudity itself is unlikely to breach broadcasting standards".
The authority the nudity was dealt "largely matter of fact and clinical", and the tone of the show was kept light and it was clear that the participants were participating freely and willingly.
The authority considered that there was a positive element to these episodes.
"The overall messaging about body image and self-esteem was an encouraging one. The essential message was that there is no standard attractive body configuration and that those who do not meet Hollywood standards of body configuration are nevertheless attractive."
It concluded that the programme did not obviously threaten norms of good taste and decency or cross the line of what is acceptable for an Adults Only programme broadcast after 9.30pm.
"We have stood back and asked ourselves what harm have these broadcasts caused. We struggled to find any palpable harm that would be done to any individual, group or to society generally by the broadcast of these programmes.
"Some viewers may have been upset but this would have been transitory. There is no compulsion for programmes of this kind to be viewed but they must be adequately signposted," the authority said.
However, it concluded that the audience warning shown before each episode was deficient and "did not fairly reflect the nature of the content".
While the authority upheld this aspect of the complaints under the good taste and decency standard, the Authority did not make any orders.
National Director of Family First NZ Bob McCoskrie was stunned by the BSA's decision, stating it had "become de-sensitised to what are community standards".
"This decision was a litmus test of whether families can rely on the watchdog to act in the best interests of families and society in general or whether broadcasters have free reign to push the boundaries as far as they want. The broadcasters have won and families have received notice," he said.
"This is all part of the 'pornification' of our culture led by broadcasters and advertisers, with the watchdog asleep at the wheel.
"Family First was swamped with complaints from families after the broadcasts of Naked Attraction, including medical professionals, horrified by how the standards of free-to-air television have hit rock bottom because of this show."
McCoskrie said the show degrades human relationships to animalistic instinct, and promotes voyeurism and a porn culture.
He said a number of advertisers have asked for their advertising to be removed from the programme after being contacted by supporters of Family First.
A spokesperson for The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery said, "As of today all future placements in this series have been removed."
Fonterra said, "We agree this type of show is definitely not aligned with our brand strategy, and we have implemented a new process to ensure this doesn't happen again."
In response to a request under the Official Information Act, TVNZ told Family First that it received 536 formal complaints for Naked Attraction in late 2017.