Prime time TV blurs family with frisky

NZ Herald May 14, 2011 

Some critics call it “sleaze TV”. One MP has even suggested making most of prime time “adults only” to reflect the increased amount of sexual material on offer. The debate over early evening television programming hit the headlines last week when Labour’s Lianne Dalziel claimed regular soaps such as Shortland Street and Coronation Street were unfit for children. The issue has been bubbling away since September last year when TV researcher Ruth Zanker lamented the sexualisation of what used to be family viewing time, blaming it on the pursuit of advertising dollars. “Children are being sacrificed on the altar of ratings,” she told Herald media writer John Drinnan. “It may be that if you looked at a lot of the programming that runs before the [8.30pm] adult watershed, it breaches standards.” TVNZ and TV3 say they provide what viewers want. They also claim the Broadcasting Standards Authority is taking an increasingly conservative line with complaints, which is out of step with growing community acceptance of racier themes. So is early-evening TV no longer fit for family viewing? We sampled TV2’s comedy night on Wednesday from 6.30pm to 9pm to test its suitability for Mum, Dad and three school-aged children. This is what we found.