In NZ there are several free‐to‐air television channels, including national and regional channels, and Maori television (Maori are the indigenous people of NZ). The three main national channels are TV1 and TV2 (both state owned) and TV3 (privately owned). For one week in June 2004, we video recorded all television programming (including movies) shown on the three major channels (TV1, TV2, TV3) and C4, from 6.00 pm to 9.30 pm. We included C4, which is primarily a music video channel aimed at 15–29 year olds (Television Broadcaster's Council: www.c4tv.co.nz
). This amounted to 98 hours of television. In August 2002, we recorded 73.5 hours of programmes from channels TV1, TV2, and TV3 over the same time period in the evening. Consequently, we were able to examine changes in the amount and nature of tobacco imagery over a two‐year period. Copies of the coding forms are available on request.
The primary units of analysis were scenes containing tobacco imagery. We defined a scene as a relatively discrete set of camera shots relating to a set piece of “action” within a programme, an advertisement or trailer.4
Termination of a scene was usually signalled by the camera cutting away to a new location, to new actors or a new staged action piece. While this was relatively unproblematic, the identification of discrete scenes was harder in documentary and news programmes, where, for example, there was an interview with someone who was a smoker. Here we adopted a more conservative approach so that a five minute uninterrupted interview would constitute one scene.
Tobacco imagery was defined quite broadly from the depiction of characters smoking, someone talking about tobacco, or someone being offered tobacco, to vending machines, signs billboards and posters, packets of cigarettes, ashtrays, cigarette lighters, and any other related tobacco product including nicotine replacement products. The imagery was identified as “neutral/positive” where smoking was shown in the context of people having a good time or relaxing, or there was talk of the positive effects of smoking, or simply an ashtray was shown with a lighted cigarette in it. Imagery was defined as “critical” where there was an explicit message depicting the negative effects of tobacco—for example, someone shown coughing while smoking, or talk of the health effects of smoking, or talk of the positive effects of quitting.
The coding was carried out primarily by one of the authors (JK). Because the tapes were coded for all instances of substance use (that is, alcohol as well as other drug use), there were multiple viewings of each programme and repeated viewings of each coded scene. We did not formally assess rater reliability. However, half of the programmes were viewed by both JK and RM to achieve agreement and consistency in coding. Furthermore, in instances of uncertainty, both coders reviewed relevant scenes to reach agreement.