Explainer: Adult-themed ads during TV news or On Demand

Sep 13th '22

The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) at times gets complaints about advertisements shown during the TV news bulletins at 6.00pm. Complainants are usually concerned about the adult-themed content of some ads and question why these are allowed to play in the early evening when children can see them.


Each programme on TV is classified by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA). When it comes to news, current affairs, sports and live content – these are categorised as Unclassified Programming.


“News, current affairs, sports and live content is not, because of its distinct nature, subject to classification. This content is generally targeted at adults and it is expected any children watching or listening will be supervised. However, broadcasters must be mindful of children’s interests and other broadcasting standards and include audience advisories where appropriate, to enable the audience to exercise discretion.” – Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand, July 2022.


TVNZ and Newshub advise that around 97-98% of the audience regularly viewing the 6.00pm news on both the channels is over 18 (Nielsen data).  This is why you may see adult-themed advertisements during this programming.


A note on advertising via On Demand platforms  like TVNZ+ and ThreeNow 

If you have young people or children in your whānau, it’s also important to be aware that advertisements are served through the On Demand platforms using the account holder profile information, such as age and gender. For example, if you are an adult you can expect to be served ads based on your age and interests while viewing programmes via the On Demand platform, including programmes that may have a younger viewing audience too – this is important if your children are watching a show through your account or with you.


TVNZ provides some helpful information for account holders: You can set profiles to allow content recommended for pre-schoolers (2 – 5 years), kids (5 – 12 years) or those aged 13+. Within the kid’s category, you can choose whether to allow PG (Parental Guidance) content.


ThreeNow advises that Warner Bro. Discovery assesses all advertising on its ThreeNow platform to determine audience suitability. Any advertising that is aimed at an older audience demographic is targeted by the account holder profile information provided or scheduled after 8.30pm and before 5.30am when children are less likely to view it. Parental guidance is always recommended if a child is accessing a profile that was not specifically created for them.


Source: ASA


About the New Zealand ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is an organisation that investigates breaches of advertising standards in New Zealand. The ASA provides a free complaints process for consumers about the content and placement of advertisements. In assessing complaints, the ASA apply the ASA Advertising Codes.


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