A “raunchy and sexually charged” scene on primetime soap opera Home and Away, along with a graphic scene depicting oral sex in comedy-drama series Hung, breached broadcasting standards, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has ruled.


In decisions released on Monday, the BSA said the Home and Away episode, which aired on TV3 at 5.30pm on March 24 with a General (G) classification, breached standards relating to responsible programming, children’s interests, and good taste and decency.

During the episode, two adult characters, Martha and Liam, began kissing and Liam removed Martha’s bathrobe, leaving her in a bra and pyjama pants.

Liam then lay back on a table while Martha straddled him as they continued to kiss until another character walked in.

TV3’s broadcaster TVWorks said that the program had screened in a timeslot that was not considered to be predominately children’s viewing time on the channel and that child viewers would not be alarmed or distressed by such scenes.

The BSA disagreed, saying the program was “raunchy and sexually charged” and went well beyond the level of sexual activity that should be included in a G-rated show.

“For the broadcaster to argue that 5.30pm is ‘not considered to be predominately children’s viewing time on TV3 and that the program was ‘aimed at an older ‘G’ audience’ displays, in our view, disregard for the G classification and the guidelines in the Free-to-Air Television Code.”

The complaint was the first about sexual content in Home and Away to be upheld.

In its second decision, the BSA ruled an episode of Hung, described by a complainant as “soft porn”, breached the good taste and decency standard.

The episode screened on TV One at 9.50pm on March 22, and showed a male prostitute, Ray, lifting up a woman’s skirt and removing her underwear, and included a brief shot of the woman’s genital area.

The woman then sat down on a couch and placed her legs over Ray’s shoulders while he performed oral sex.

TVNZ said the scene had been relatively brief, not detailed, obviously acted and important in the context of the series.

However, the majority of the BSA found the content went well beyond the level of sexual material that viewers would expect to see on free-to-air television.

“In the majority’s view, the scene complained about was prolonged, explicit and gratuitous, leaving nothing to the imagination and designed solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience,” the decision said.

“In these circumstances factors such as the program’s AO classification and the use of a written and verbal warning were not sufficient to prevent the broadcast breaching standards of good taste and decency.”

The BSA did not issue penalties for either decision.

Lobby group Family Fist NZ national director Bob McCoskrie welcomed the decisions and said he hoped they would set a precedent.

“Finally, the authority has put the welfare and protection of families before the rights of broadcasters to offend children and families with sexual and offensive content.”