BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Harang and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1996-126

Members
  • J M Potter (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • A Martin
Dated
Complainant
  • Kristian Harang
Number
1996-126
Programme
One Network News
Channel/Station
TV One


Summary

Reaction to an anti-homosexual film screened at an open meeting of a Hamilton church

group was reported in an item on One Network News broadcast on 15 July 1996

between 6.00–7.00pm.

Kristian Harang of Auckland complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the

broadcaster, that the coverage of the item lacked balance because no representative of

any church group was spoken to.

In its response, TVNZ contended that balance was achieved by the information

provided by the reporter and that the item made clear the contrasting viewpoints of

the two groups. Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision not to uphold the complaint, Mr

Harang referred it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the

Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the reasons below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.


Decision

The members of the Authority have viewed the item complained about and have read

the correspondence (summarised in the Appendix). As is its practice, the Authority

determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

A report on One Network News broadcast on 15 July 1996 focussed on the reaction to

the screening of an anti-homosexual film at an open church meeting in Hamilton. It

was reported that the church hoped that gays invited to the screening would be

converted. The screening evoked a negative reaction among some people and some of

that reaction was shown as gay protesters attempted to disrupt the screening. The

pastor commented that the interruption was "typical of homosexuals".

Mr Harang complained to TVNZ that the item was unbalanced because while one of

the gay men was interviewed to give his point of view, no one from the church was

asked to comment.

When it responded to Mr Harang, TVNZ advised that it had considered the complaint

under standard G6 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which requires

broadcasters:

G6  To show balance, impartiality and fairness in dealing with political

matters, current affairs and all questions of a controversial nature.


TVNZ emphasised that there was more than one way to achieve balance in a news or

current affairs item. It could be achieved by having verbal comment from each side, by

the reporter describing the positions of each side, and by a combination of interview

and information provided by the reporter. On this occasion, TVNZ continued,

balance was achieved by the latter method. It noted that the homosexual position was

put by a gay spokesperson in an interview which lasted just ten seconds and the

balancing factor was found in the reporter's script which gave the church's point of

view. TVNZ noted that it was made clear that the church was opposed to

homosexuality – because it was showing an anti-homosexual film, that it hoped the gay

men invited to the screening would be converted and that the screening was

"interrupted" by a homosexual group in the audience. It concluded by showing the

pastor stating that he believed the interruption was typical of homosexuals.

The Authority concludes that the item was a dispassionate report on an event which

occurred at the Hamilton church. The report emphasised that the two groups – of

gays and church supporters – came to blows over the open screening of the

controversial anti-homosexual film, which the item informed viewers had been banned

in the US. When the screening was interrupted, a violent struggle ensued, some

protesters were thrown out and others were threatened with removal. The pastor of

the church was shown stating that the interruption was typical of the gay group, and a

gay spokesperson interviewed described the church members as "monsters" for their

behaviour. In the Authority's view, balance was achieved within the item, and it

agrees with TVNZ that the church's views were adequately summarised. It was clear,

the Authority observes, that both groups behaved recklessly and that the struggle did

not reflect well on either group.

 

For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judith Potter
Chairperson
3 October 1996

 

Appendix

Kristian Harang's Formal Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 15 July

1996

Mr Harang of Auckland complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about an item on

One Network News on 15 July 1996 broadcast between 6.00-7.00pm.

The item reported the screening of anti-homosexual film at a church in Hamilton which

was disrupted by a protest group. Mr Harang complained that one of the gay men

was interviewed to give his point of view, but no one from the church was asked to

comment. In his view that constituted a lack of balance, and was in breach of the

broadcasting standards.

TVNZ's Response to the Complaint - 30 July 1996

TVNZ explained that there was more than one way to achieve balance in an item such

as this. It could be achieved by having verbal comments from each side, by the

reporter describing the positions of each side, or by a combination of interview and

information provided by the reporter.

On this occasion, TVNZ noted, the latter method was used. The homosexual position

was put by a spokesperson in an interview extract lasting 10 seconds while the

balancing factor was found in the reporter's script. It noted the following comments:

1. The church was showing an anti-homosexual film (thus indicating

clearly that the Church was opposed to homosexuality).

2. The script stated that the Church had hoped the gays invited to the

screening would be "converted".

3. The script made it clear that the screening was "interrupted" by the

homosexual group in the audience.

4. The pastor was shown stating that the interruption was "typical of

homosexuals".

In TVNZ's view, the contrasting viewpoints were made very clear and the item also

emphasised how far apart the two groups were.

It declined to uphold the complaint.

Mr Harang's Referral to the Authority - 6 August 1996

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Mr Harang referred it to the Broadcasting

Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Mr Harang repeated that the item showed a homosexual activist group protesting

outside the church and, because there was an interview with the gay activist leader and

not with the Church leader, the item lacked balance.

He also objected to the gay spokesperson calling the Christians "monsters", when it

was the homosexuals who were breaking the law and causing violence on the premises

and the Christian people were just peacefully showing a film.

In Mr Harang's view, TVNZ had not provided an adequate justification for

interviewing the gay leader and not interviewing someone from the Church.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority - 13 August 1996

TVNZ advised that it had no further comment to make.