Never mind sex on TV. Keep an eye on the new look Broadcasting Standards Authority and its attitude to politicians at the Beehive.

TV bosses are worried by a new, more conservative and vigilant broadcasting watchdog since Marlborough lawyer Peter Radich became chairman in November.

Sure enough, decisions this week included two watershed statements about the portrayal of sex.

G-rated Aussie teen soap Home and Away - played on TV3 at 5.30pm - breached rules for good taste and decency and was deemed raunchy and sexually charged.

More controversial was a decision about the unabashedly adult TV2 drama Hung which screened at 9.30pm.

Most of the BSA said an oral sex scene was prolonged, explicit and gratuitous, leaving nothing to the imagination.

"It was designed solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience," the decision said.

The Home and Away decision makes some sort of sense amid concerns - expressed by TV researcher Ruth Zanker in this column - that the networks have forgotten about kids in early prime time.

Then there is Hung - whose main theme concerns a man with a big willie - which is like Californication and unabashedly sleazy. TVNZ bosses are considering appealing against the decision the High Court.

Spokeswoman Megan Richards said the broadcaster was surprised and needed clarification on consistency. "The offending content was well signposted - if that is upheld, you have to wonder about [TV3's] Outrageous Fortune," she said.

Assessing the BSA, it is tempting to point a finger at Peter Radich.

But broadcasters note Radich was the dissenting opinion in the Hung decision and some previous decisions that found breaches of good taste and decency.


More obscure than the sex complaints - but in many ways more intriguing - was the BSA decision from an obscure interlocutory hearing that bent the deadline for a complaint by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

The decision raised alarm bells with TV3 which claimed it marked "political bullying" of the broadcasting watchdog. In a controversial split decision, the BSA allowed Bennett's complaint against an April 29 TV3 news item to proceed after it had missed the deadline.

TV3 news boss Mark Jennings is furious and said a normal complainant would not be given that latitude. The substantive complaint will be heard later this year, but TV3 is considering appealing against the decision to allow Bennett's complaint to proceed out of time.

The 3 News item was about a meeting said to have occurred between Bennett and a woman who had complained that Bennett had breached her privacy by talking about her benefit to the media.

The 3 News report said the idea was floated of a monetary payment and the woman dropping her complaint. Bennett strenuously rejected the claim from the start, but her office's treatment of the complaints process was muddled and it missed the deadline.

The BSA decided Bennett always intended to go to the authority but TV3 says it has given the minister favoured treatment that would not be available to a general member of staff.

Board member Tapu Misa did not take part, declaring a potential conflict relating to comments she had made about Bennett in her Herald column.

Another board member, Leigh Pearson, was a minority opinion. The majority decision was from Radich, and Mary Shanahan, who was also appointed last year.


Bennett questioned whether the Herald was covering the matter.

But a parliamentary source said that the Bennett complaint had support elsewhere in Cabinet - and there was more at stake than one story on 3 News.

National believed that the complaint had a good chance of being upheld and reflected concern about TV using what was regarded as flimsy source material from social media sites such as Facebook.

BSA chief executive Dominic Sheehan imposed a blanket ban on discussing the Bennett decision. Radich was on holiday - ice-fishing in Alaska.

Asked whether the PM's office was involved, Bennett's office said: "You can quote the minister as saying the Prime Minister's office was neither consulted, nor involved in the BSA complaint process."


Sex sells - but TV3's Mark Jennings would have preferred that environmental reporter Samantha Hayes had not dressed so raunchily in the latest edition of Remix magazine.

The broadcaster has long been happy for Hayes to be out and about on the so-called celebrity circuit - it attracts publicity.

I hear the former TV3 Nightline host is second in line should Hillary Barry ever step down from 3 News - behind the very classy Carolyn Robinson.

Given the requirements for the news anchor to carry the integrity of 3News, Jennings was apparently surprised to find the environmental reporter - a passionate vegan - in pouting pose wearing black leather with hot pants.

He said he had talked to the TV3 publicity department - which was unaware of her outfit - and Sam was involved in those talks.

"I would probably prefer a less raunchy image than that. I would like to see her in something more fitting her job," he said.

Of course there will be some viewers who would like to see black leather hot pants as the new uniform for leggy news anchors. But is that really the face of the 6pm news?

Hayes, by the way explained in the article about her rationale on leather given she was a vegan saying she was happy to use the byproducts of meat production.

She has standards though.

"I will never wear snake skin. I will never wear alligator.

"I will never wear calf skin," the TV3 environmental reporter told Remix.


Speaking of raunchy images and marketing does anyone else think it odd to see Lucy Lawless performing her valuable role as fundraiser for the Starship Children's Hospital after watching her starring role in Sky's soft porn show Spartacus?

Starship Foundation chief executive Andrew Young has no concerns and says people are smart enough to separate her role as an ambassador for the foundation and her acting in Spartacus.

"She has a legion of fans and supporters who love her and her work for Starship, including the time that she has been at Spartacus," he said.

"We are grateful for her support. People have to be mature and adult in their assessment."


Creative directors for two of the biggest ad agencies have stepped down.

Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand executive creative Dylan Harrison has resigned after just eight months to join DDB Sydney as executive creative director.

Chief executive Nicky Bell - who handpicked Harrison to lead the creative revival of the agency - said she was disappointed and it was no secret that it has been a challenging first few months.

Meanwhile, Y&R Auckland creative director Vaughn Davis is leaving for points unknown, after 10 years.

Y&R chief executive Jon Ramage said Wellington creative group head Duncan Munro would lead the agency's creative output till a replacement was found.


One of the country's most knowledgeable journalists and business writers, Graeme Hunt, died suddenly on Wednesday.

I worked with Hunt when he was editor at large for National Business Review where - on a prosaic level - he delivered and demanded short sharp snappy copy, assisted by his astonishing memory and archive of facts.

Beyond that he was an intellectually rigorous writer with a deep knowledge of business and Auckland's rich.

He became a journalist in 1974, and soon became the Auckland Star's youngest business editor.

He was a driving force behind the Rich List, and latterly a contract political commentator for NewsTalk ZB.

Hunt's politics were from the right and he was a staunch opponent of MMP and wrote a book Why MMP Must Go.

Hunt was 58.