Protests fail to stop Bloody Mary airing in NZ

Hundreds of complaints, a prayer vigil and an attempted court injunction failed to stop television station C4 showing the controversial "Bloody Mary" episode of the South Park cartoon show.

The Manawatu Standard reports that people prayed outside the Auckland offices of C4 last night as the station broadcast the episode, which showed a statue of the Virgin Mary menstruating.

Religious leaders had pleaded with C4 owner CanWest, which also owns another TV station - TV3 - not to run the episode and the Catholic Church urged its followers to boycott 3 News and products advertised on TV3 and C4. Prime Minister Helen Clark said the episode is offensive. But on Tuesday, CanWest announced that it would bring the episode forward from May, citing "high levels of debate".

CanWest TVWorks chief operating officer Rick Friesen said the company had received more than 600 phone calls and e-mails on the issue by yesterday afternoon. He estimated about 85% were against showing the episode and 15% were in support, which was not surprising considering the organised nature of the protest.

"That is a very high number of complaints for any broadcaster; higher than any issue on CanWest in the past five years."

Wellington businessman Patrick Quin, managing director of Max Recruitment, was so offended by CanWest's handling of the matter that he cancelled his advertising budget with RadioWorks, a CanWest company that runs radio stations.

Many advertisers would feel the cartoons were offensive, he said.

"I would think that most of them would be insulted or offended on behalf of their community or their wife or daughter. It offends me for a whole range of reasons."

Protests fail to stop Mary show (Manawatu Standard/stuff.co.nz 23/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
South Park (SBS)
South Park: Bloody Mary (tv.com)

Muslim cartoon controversy prompts SBS reversal on South Park (CathNews 16/2/06)
Bishops' president blasts South Park episode (CathNews 21/12/05)
Complaints body OKs South Park's "Red Hot Catholic Love" (CathNews 12/12/03)
'South Park' episode upsets Catholic civil rights group (CathNews 15/7/02)

Catholics call for media guidelines (NewstalkZB 23/2/06)
Advertiser says CanWest 'pathetic' for screening South Park (Radio New Zealand 22/2/06)
Catholics urge South Park boycott (BBC 21/2/06)
Open Letter re South Park episode: "Bloody Mary" (Catholic Communications NZ 21/2/06)
Decision to screen 'Bloody Mary' on Wednesday Feb. 22 arrogant and cynical (Catholic Communications NZ 21/2/06)
Pope calls for end to cartoon-sparked violence in Nigeria (Catholic News Agency 21/2/06)
Fans defend South Park's Bloody Mary episode (NewstalkZB 21/2/06)
PM adds voice to South Park Virgin Mary controversy (Radio New Zealand 21/2/06)
PM finds Mary cartoon offensive (Dominion Post/stuff.co.nz 21/2/06)
South Park irks bishops (The Advertiser 21/2/06)
NZ channel to air bleeding Mary South Park (The Age 21/2/06)
Bishops call for TV3 boycott (TVNZ/One News 19/2/06)
SBS parks cartoon episode (The Australian 16/2/06)
South Park controversy continues (stuff.co.nz 13/2/06)
Religious leaders want South Park episode banned (stuff.co.nz 30/1/06)

23 Feb 2006