The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld two complaints about a promo for the ASB Women's Classic tennis competition which screened on Sky Sport in January 2020.

The promo, which was repeated throughout broadcast coverage of the competition, depicted a brief action shot of a tennis player hitting the ball during which her skirt flies up.

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The clip also featured unseen male players hitting shots, one also from the waist down.

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The first complainant said the shot of the woman was a "misogynist and sexist image" that focused the "viewer's eyes" on the tennis player's underwear. They claimed it belittled and shamed women by using them as sex objects.

While the second complainant said the upskirt panty shot of a sportswoman was in bad taste and was nothing but gratuitous sexual titillation.

However Sky disagreed, saying it was an athlete playing an impressive tennis shot and was in the nature of an athletic sport like tennis that athletic wear undergarments were sometimes seen.

Sky responded that there was absolutely no intention to diminish or sexualise women's tennis and it was a proud supporter of women's sports.

Sky said it had since changed its processes for clip selection and the shot of the woman's skirt flying up and been removed from its content library.

The Authority acknowledged that the repeated use of the clip was unfortunate. However, it did not uphold the complaint under the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards finding that the clip was brief and inexplicit and was shown in a sporting context.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld two complaints about Sky TV. Photo / Sky Sport.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld two complaints about Sky TV. Photo / Sky Sport.

The Authority observed that the shot was not gratuitous or titillating but was an image of an athlete in motion. It found that ultimately the clip was not likely to undermine community standards of good taste and decency and did not contain condemnation of or malice towards women as required to find a breach of the discrimination and denigration standard under current guidelines.

In making this decision, the BSA noted the high threshold for regulatory intervention, and that Sky Television provided an explanation for the selection of the clip and explained that it had changed its processes for clip selection and removed this particular clip from its content library.

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It did not believe it would influence viewers to perceive women players in a sexual rather than athletic way to the extent of causing offence.

The Authority was satisfied that the promo would not cause harm at a level justifying regulatory intervention.

In January, ASB Bank said it is disappointed by Sky TV's repeated use of the clip.

Several fans complained on ASB 's Facebook page about the repeated use of the photo of a female player's skirt billowing up as she hit a shot.

"What a pity you let Sky Sport use this photo repeatedly for advertising Women's Tennis...must have broadcast it 100 times a day......This is the best tennis photo they could use?" one person wrote.

"I'm not a prude and neither are all my friends on [Facebook] who agree with me that it is pretty bad when a bank uses a women's crotch to advertise a sport. For those who don't have Sky here is the repeated tennis shot ... Shame on you both."

ASB, who are sponsors of the tournament, replied to the post and said they were disappointed with Sky's choice of images and had raised it with the broadcaster.

"We raised this with them last week but you may also wish to contact them or the Advertising Standards Authority directly with your concerns. As it is now the men's week of the ASB Classic, you won't be seeing this particular image again," they wrote.

In January a spokesperson for Sky said they were sorry the image had offended some people and they had taken the feedback on board.