BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Chan and TVWorks Ltd - 2011-170

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Tin Chan
Campbell Live
TVWorks Ltd
TV3 (TVWorks)

Complaint under section 8(1C) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Campbell Live – items asked viewers for their opinions on changing the New Zealand flag – showed brief visual overview of New Zealand flags – allegedly in breach of standards relating to controversial issues, accuracy, fairness, discrimination and denigration, and responsible programming

Standard 4 (controversial issues), Standard 5 (accuracy), Standard 6 (fairness), Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration), and Standard 8 (responsible programming) – complainant’s concerns are matters of personal preference and editorial discretion – complaint frivolous and vexatious – decline to determine under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989

This headnote does not form part of the decision. 


[1]  Items broadcast on Campbell Live on TV3 at 7pm on 22 and 23 September 2011, asked viewers for their opinions on changing the New Zealand flag, which had been a topic of discussion during the Rugby World Cup. The items included differing perspectives on which flag New Zealand should adopt, and incorporated artists’ impressions of suggestions for a new flag. The item broadcast on 23 September contained a brief visual overview of the history of flags in New Zealand.

[2]  Tin Chan made a formal complaint to TVWorks Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the omission of certain information relating to New Zealand’s history and its flags resulted in the items being unbalanced, inaccurate, unfair and irresponsible. He also argued that New Zealand’s first national flag was incorrectly identified and referred to, and that the item breached the discrimination and denigration standard.

[3]  Mr Chan also asked the Authority to review two previous decisions in which it declined to determine complaints about the omission of certain information from broadcasts relating to New Zealand’s history and its flags.1 The Authority does not have jurisdiction to review or change its decisions unless instructed to do so by the High Court following an appeal. Section 18 of the Broadcasting Act 1989 provides that a complainant or broadcaster may appeal to the High Court within one month of receiving the Authority’s decision. Neither of the previous decisions cited by the complainant were appealed and so we cannot revisit them now.

[4]  The issue therefore is whether the items breached Standards 4 (controversial issues), 5 (accuracy), 6 (fairness), 7 (discrimination and denigration) and 8 (responsible programming) of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[5]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Does the complaint raise any issues of broadcasting standards?

[6]  Mr Chan’s concerns that TVWorks chose not to cover particular aspects relating to New Zealand’s history and its flags are matters relating to the broadcaster’s editorial discretion, and his personal views on what he would have preferred to see included in the items. These are not matters that can be resolved through this complaints procedure.2 In addition, it is clear that the complainant is fully aware of our previous decisions, either declining to uphold or declining to determine complaints which raised similar issues. With regard to his accuracy complaint, we do not consider that any flags shown in the items were incorrectly identified or referred to, and in any event, this was not material to the focus of the items, which canvassed New Zealanders’ views on whether we should adopt a new flag.

[7]  Accordingly, this complaint, does not, in our view, raise any issues of broadcasting standards of a level which warrants our consideration. Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 allows the Authority to decline to determine a complaint which it considers to be frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. We therefore decline to determine the complaint pursuant to section 11(a), on the grounds that it was frivolous and trivial.


For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
27 March 2012


The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1                 Tin Chan’s formal complaint – 20 October 2011

2                 Mr Chan’s referral to the Authority – 9 December 2011

3                 TVWorks’ response to the Authority – 8 February 2012

4                 Mr Chan’s final comment – 15 February 2011

1Rupa and Māori Television, Decision No. 2011-087 and Rupa and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-058

2See section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.