Married at First Sight has been cleared by the media watchdog following complaints about language, abuse, alcohol and classification.
Two episodes aired in February with an M classification in a 7:30pm slot, with complaints they were ‘abusive’ and included ‘coarse language’, ‘excessive alcohol drinking’, ‘adultery’, ‘deceit’ and ‘deception’. It included what appeared to be aggressive “F-bombs” which were bleeped.
One complaint centred around the argument between Ines and Bronson over a parasailing event on their TV honeymoon. One complainant said, “If that was a man yelling at a woman, he would be arrested or reprimanded.” Another said of the show, “The persons on the show are only interested in being famous and MAFS is just a smut show being aired at 7:30pm.”
Under the classification rules, coarse language is permitted but aggressive or strong coarse language should be infrequent overall.
In its response to the Australian Communications and Media Authority Nine submitted, “that due to the nature of the reality experiment format, circumstances of heightened emotion and conflict can arise between participants and given the unscripted nature of the program, some coarse language can result. However, not only is this language permitted by the Guidelines, but Nine also took steps to ensure that the impact of slightly stronger coarse language was appropriately moderated. For example, expletives of mild to moderate impact such as ‘bullshit’ and ‘shit’ were sparing throughout the program and were not beeped, whereas expletives of stronger impact such as ‘f***’ were entirely beeped to mollify their impact.”
Nine also said consumption of alcohol at dinner parties was incidental to and justified by the context in which it appears, if participants chose to imbibe. It denied its use was excessive.
“For example, no participant had slurred speech or was unable to balance such that they fell over. Accordingly, Nine submits that the [Complainant 2] Episode depicted adults legally consuming alcohol at a dinner party,” said Nine.
Another complaint deemed the show inappropriate for a 7pm Sunday timeslot in a PG timeslot, with 14 instances of mild coarse language, including terms such as ‘arse’, ‘shit’, ‘d***’, ‘d***head’, ‘pisses me off’, ‘pissed me off’ and ‘pussy’.
In a PG slot mild or socially offensive coarse language may be used infrequently, when justified by the story line or program context.
“Nine also ensured that expletives of stronger impact such as ‘f***’ were entirely beeped and blurred so as to negate their impact. Nine submits that these measures complied with the Guidelines as it ensured that higher impact coarse language was not broadcast during a PG programme,” said Nine.
Nine also defended, “The Episode did not contain any visual depiction of sexual activity. The only references to sexual content contained in the Episode were by way of verbal references. Nine again notes that viewers were given ample warning of this content at the commencement of the Episode via the visual warning which advised that the program contained sexual references.”
Nine was cleared by the Australian Communications and Media Authority on all counts.