In this Bulletin: Note from the Chief Executive, Introducing Robyn Diamantis, BSA News, Latest Decisions, Media News  
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March 2016

Number 61
Note from the Chief Executive

Kia ora

In our last Bulletin, I said we were hoping to be making an announcement soon about our new Codebook. So I’m excited to announce that the new BSA Codebook, co-produced with a working group of broadcasters, will be released on 1 April. It contains revised and modernised versions of our three main codes, the radio code, the free-to-air television code and the pay television code.  It also contains commentary and guidance, which we hope will be of value to our broadcasters and to everyone who wants to find out about broadcasting standards in New Zealand.
Copies will be available on our website: from 1 April. Printed copies are also available on request.
I hope you all enjoy the upcoming Easter break.

Nga mihi

Karen Scott-Howman 
Robyn Diamantis

Robyn is our frontline contact person for visitors coming into the office or calling BSA. She provides administrative support to the team as well as assisting the public with a wide range of enquiries. Robyn has previously spent the past nine years living in Edinburgh, Scotland working with the Forestry Commission there as a Geographic Information Systems project administrator and PA. Out of work Robyn likes listening to and mixing her Vinyls.
We also share Robyn with NZ On Air.
BSA News

Public Sector Reputation Index

We are pleased to note that the BSA was one of the top-ranked public sector organisations on Colmar Brunton's Public Sector Reputation Index for 2016, coming in at number 11. The index measures perceptions of leadership, fairness, social responsibility and trust. The presentation can be read here

Latest statistics 

We have released 24 decisions so far in 2016. Of these decisions:
  • Fifteen (63%) were about free-to-air television broadcasts and nine (37%) were about radio broadcasts. 
  • Five complaints were upheld (21%). 
  • The programmes most commonly complained about were news and current affairs programmes (63%). 
  •  The standards most commonly complained under were accuracy (14 breaches alleged) and good taste and decency (10 breaches alleged). 

Latest Decisions

Complaints about Radio Broadcasts
Forbes & Lee and UMA Broadcasting Ltd - 2015-058

During Paakiwaha, host Willie Jackson interviewed the Head of News and Current Affairs at Māori Television about the recent resignation of senior staff, among other things. Mihingarangi Forbes and Annabelle Lee, two of the individuals referred to, complained that the interview was unfair, inaccurate and unbalanced. The Authority upheld aspects of the accuracy complaint, as Mr Jackson claimed Ms Forbes leaked information to media (which was also unfair) and declined an invitation to appear on the programme, which was inaccurate. The Authority also found the item was unfair to Ms Forbes, Ms Lee and another former staff member as the discussion reflected negatively on their professional ability and they were not given a timely and relevant opportunity to respond or give comment. The Authority did not uphold the balance complaint as the interview did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance.

Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues

No Order

Read our media release about this decision here

Campbell and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-091

Storytime featured a series of readings from the Margaret Mahy novel The Catalogue of the Universe. The Authority upheld a complaint that the young adult novel featured content unsuitable for younger listeners and should not have been broadcast during Storytime. The story featured teenage drinking and sexual activity which were not appropriate for child listeners and would not have been within audience expectations of this timeslot, which has long been understood to feature stories aimed at younger children.

Upheld: Responsible Programming

No Order

Ihaia & IM and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2015-074

Two hosts on George FM Breakfast asked listeners to send in the names and profiles of female users of Instagram described as ‘do-nothing bitches’. The names of two women, A and B, were submitted. The hosts went on to comment extensively on A’s profile, making inappropriate and disparaging comments about her, and also contacted A and interviewed her on air. The Authority upheld a complaint that the action taken by MediaWorks having found breaches of the fairness and good taste and decency standards was insufficient, and also found that the broadcast breached the privacy of both women.

Upheld: Fairness (Action taken), Good Taste and Decency (Action taken), Privacy

Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Law and Order, Responsible Programming, Controversial Issues, Accuracy  

Orders: Section 13(1)(d) $4,000 compensation to A for breach of privacy; section 13(1)(d) $2,000 compensation to B for breach of privacy; section 16(4) $2,000 costs to the Crown

Laven and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-076

Morning Report contained two items about the Government’s proposal for a specific criminal charge for family violence. A number of family violence experts were interviewed, and the introduction to one of the items stated that ‘14 women, six men and 10 children’ are killed by family violence annually. The Authority upheld a complaint that this statistic was inaccurate because the broadcaster’s source was significantly outdated, and it was part of the introduction which framed the discussion. However, the Authority did not uphold the aspect of the accuracy complaint that the items were misleading because they implied that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators and women almost always victims of family violence. Additionally, the gender breakdown of victims and perpetrators of family violence was not the focus of the discussion in the items and so did not require the presentation of alternative views.

Upheld: Accuracy

Not Upheld: Controversial Issues

No Order

ten Hove and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-098

A segment on Worldwatch was introduced with the headline: ‘A provocative act by America in the South China Sea’. The item later went on to explain, ‘China’s issued a terse statement aimed at the United States after an American destroyer sailed close to an artificial island in the disputed area of the South China Sea. China said the move was illegal and threatened its sovereignty’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the introduction to the item was misleading and unfair because it implied that the US was responsible for the escalation of tensions in the South China Sea when in fact China was acting provocatively. Reasonable listeners hearing the item as a whole would have understood the context in which the word ‘provocative’ was used and would not have been misled.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Hunt and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-093
An item on Checkpoint reported on tensions between the Horowhenua Rowing Club and certain local Māori residents over the future of the club’s use of the building next to Lake Horowhenua. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair. The item carefully conveyed a complex issue, was not factually inaccurate and would not have misled viewers in any material respect. While the conflict surrounding the rowing club’s presence at Lake Horowhenua is a controversial issue of public importance, the item included the viewpoints of both parties and was sufficiently balanced. The item did not treat the nominated individuals unfairly, as they were not criticised and had a reasonable opportunity to give their views.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Controversial Issues, Fairness 
Green and MediaWorks Radio Ltd - 2015-087

During Talk with Sean Plunket, the CEO of the National Foundation for the Deaf called in to discuss captioning on television, and especially the perceived problem of the lack of captioning of broadcasts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Mr Plunket argued, ‘You can actually watch the rugby with the sound off, you can see – they’ve got big numbers on their backs – you can see what’s happening’ and asked, ‘Really is this such a problem?’ After further discussion, he stated, ‘You do have a hearing problem because you’re not actually engaging in a conversation’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Mr Plunket’s comments amounted to bullying and denigrated the deaf community. Taking into account freedom of expression and the context of talkback radio and this particular broadcast, Mr Plunket’s comments did not reach the high threshold necessary for a finding that the broadcast encouraged discrimination or denigration, nor did they go so far as to breach standards of good taste and decency.
Not Upheld: Discrimination and Denigration, Good Taste and Decency
Māori Education Trust and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2015-089

An item on Checkpoint was introduced by the newsreader saying, ‘The Māori Education Trust has had to sell its only assets – its farms – putting at risk the grants it is required to make to Māori students’. The item went on to discuss the financial history of the Trust. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the introduction was inaccurate in that the sale of the farms had actually improved the financial position of the Trust. The financial ‘risk’ alleged by the broadcast is not a fact able to be objectively determined, and the Trust was able to put forward its position in the item, so listeners would not have been misled.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

Complaints about Free-to-Air TV Broadcasts

Fisher and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-044

An item on ONE News covered the quarrying of a Dunedin landmark, Saddle Hill, and featured interviews with three people opposed to the quarrying. The reporter stated that quarry owner Calvin Fisher did not respond to his request for an interview, although an offer had been made to ‘replace the hill once the rock has been taken away’. TVNZ upheld Mr Fisher’s complaint, finding that insufficient attempts were made to contact Mr Fisher and the reporter unfairly represented that he was not willing to comment. TVNZ apologised in writing to Mr Fisher, removed the story from its website and discussed the upheld complaint with the reporter and management. However the Authority upheld Mr Fisher’s complaint that this action was insufficient to remedy the breach. The nature of the breach required further action from the broadcaster, such as a public acknowledgement or apology or a follow-up broadcast that included comment from Mr Fisher and/or an alternative perspective in support of the quarry.

Upheld: Action Taken (Fairness, Accuracy, Controversial Issues)

Order: Section 16(4) $750 costs to the Crown

Doorey and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-088

Seven Sharp featured an interview with singer Robbie Williams, during which he referred to his desire to be a naturist and said he had a small ‘cock’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this comment was distasteful. The comment was at the low end of the spectrum of sexual material and was not outside audience expectations of Seven Sharp, which is an unclassified current affairs/entertainment programme aimed at adults.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency

Davie and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-090

The host of Paul Henry said ‘bastards’ when referring to phone scammers and said the word ‘God’ several times as an exclamation when discussing the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this language breached broadcasting standards. It would not have offended a significant number of viewers or adversely affected any children who might have been watching.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests, Discrimination and Denigration

Perrett and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2015-092

During the course of a panel discussion on Paul Henry about cruise ships, the participants briefly talked about penis enlargement. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this discussion was ‘vulgar’ and inappropriate for a time when children could be watching television. Paul Henry is aimed at adult viewers and the conversation, which was brief and inexplicit, did not go beyond audience expectations of the programme and its presenters.

Not Upheld: Good Taste and Decency, Children’s Interests

Monasterio and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-078

On an episode of Seven Sharp, the hosts discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and interviewed a law professor. The professor explained the contrast between the dispute resolution mechanisms of the TPP and those of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). After the interview, one host asked the other, ‘So these foreign countries could potentially hold the government for ransom down the track? Surely it goes both ways; surely we’ll have some control’. The other host replied, ‘Of course it does. Who did we take to the WTO? We’ve taken a number of countries to the WTO...’ The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this was misleading in that it suggested that TPP disputes would go through a similar process as the WTO, when in fact this was not the case for investor-state disputes. The host’s statement was not technically inaccurate as it appeared to refer to state-to-state disputes rather than investor-state disputes. Additionally, the professor had already articulated the key concepts well, so when viewed as a whole the item would not have misled viewers.

Not Upheld: Accuracy

McCully and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2015-053

An item on ONE News covered ‘the Foreign Minister’s controversial payment of $11.5 million towards businessman Hmood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf’s Saudi farm’. It reported that Minister Murray McCully had ‘struck the deal to avoid a $30 million legal threat’, but then denied that there had been a legal threat. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was inaccurate and unfair to the Minister by failing to distinguish between Mr Al-Khalaf merely assessing his legal position and actually threatening legal action, and consequently misrepresenting the Minister’s position. The issue arose through the use of ambiguous language, both by the broadcaster and by the Minister, and did not justify the Authority upholding a breach of standards.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness

Click here for all of the latest BSA decisions
Click here to search all BSA decisions

Media News

Each month we collect a few stories about media regulation and its environment, interesting research, media standards and comings and goings, both in New Zealand and in other jurisdictions. 

New Zealand 

Press Council upholds privacy complaint against The Press 

Reporting on social media 

NZME's new newsroom 

Te M
āngai Pāho encourages iwi radio stations to go digital

John Drinnan on newsroom convergence 

Women's representation in NZ media 'regressing' 

Research on images in the media shows bias in favour of John Key 

Jane Hasting's departure from NZME 

50 years of Country Calendar 

Mark Jennings' departure from MediaWorks 



 Te Māngai Pāho's John Bishara, Piri Sciascia and Rawinia Higgins. Photo: RNZ


Government's plans for BBC board threaten independence, says radio chief   

Magician's suffocation stunt in breach of broadcasting code 

Ofcom considers investigating allegedly racist Ukip broadcast 


Cabinet approves plans allowing for media mergers 

Outgoing ACMA chief Chris Chapman's reflections on radio royal prank call decision  


Terrorism and the media

Threats to press freedom in Malaysia

Accusations of political censorship in Japan 

Did you know... ? 

The new Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook comes into effect on 1 April 2016. 
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