An ad showing a female tennis player’s skirt flying up revealing her underwear was not sexual and instead showed an athlete in motion, the BSA has ruled.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld two complaints that an advertisement promoting the ASB Women’s Classic tennis competition on Sky Sport in January 2020.
The ad played throughout broadcast coverage of the competition and included a brief action shot of a tennis player shot from a low angle showing her skirt flying up and exposing her underwear while she hit the ball.
The clip also featured unseen male players hitting shots, one also from the waist down.
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 BSA did not uphold the complaints under the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards given it was “brief and inexplicit” and shown in a sporting context.
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.
“While the cumulative repetition may have given the impression that the broadcaster was being prurient, given the contextual factors above, including that this was an in motion athletic shot, we concluded that the image would not have caused widespread offence,” the ruling said.
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 which would be needed to constitute a breach.
After the clip aired, people took to social media to express their disappointment at the ad using a women’s crotch to advertise sport.