BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Curtis and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2014-124

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Steve Curtis

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

During the National Party's closing address, footage was shown of Prime Minister John Key with US President Barack Obama and the Queen. The Authority declined to determine the complaint that the use of this footage was illegal and breached standards, on the basis the complaint was trivial and did not raise any broadcasting standards issues in the context of a political broadcast carrying high public interest.

Declined to determine: Election Programmes Subject to Other Codes


[1]  During the National Party's closing address the night before the 2014 general election, brief footage was shown of Prime Minister John Key with United States President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II.

[2]  Steve Curtis lodged an election programme complaint directly with the Authority, under Standard E1 of the Election Programmes Code (election programmes subject to other Codes). He argued that the closing address illegally contained footage of the Queen and President Obama. He referred to statutory regulations on the 'Commercial Use of Royal Photographs' and the terms and conditions on the use of an 'Official White House' video. Mr Curtis did not clearly identify which standards from the Free-to-Air Television Code he considered had been breached but he mentioned provisions relating to the laws of New Zealand, violence and privacy.

[3]  The issue is whether the complaint raises any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination.

[4]  The closing address was broadcast on 19 September 2014 on TV ONE. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Does the complaint raise any issues of broadcasting standards which warrant our determination?

[5]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[6]  In our view, Mr Curtis' concerns about the use of footage of the Queen and President Obama, in the context of a political party closing address, broadcast in a robust political environment in the lead-up to a general election, do not raise any issues of broadcasting standards of a level which warrants our consideration. We therefore decline to determine Mr Curtis' complaint on the grounds that it is trivial.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Peter Radich
5 February 2015


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

1      Steve Curtis' formal complaint – 23 September 2014
2      The National Party's response to the complaint – 20 October 2014
3      TVNZ's response to the complaint – 22 October 2014
4      Mr Curtis' final comment – 18 November 2014



1 Practice Note: Section 11 powers to decline to determine a complaint (Broadcasting Standards Authority, June 2013)