BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Terry and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1997-087

Members
  • S R Maling (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • A Martin
Dated
Complainant
  • Robert Terry
Number
1997-087
Programme
One Network News
Channel/Station
TV One


Summary

A nationwide campaign, including advertisements focussing on the theme of

procrastination, was being launched to recover millions of dollars in unpaid fines,

according to an item broadcast on One Network News on 6 April 1997 between 

6.00–7.00pm.

Mr Robert Terry of Reefton complained to Television New Zealand Ltd that the item

was unbalanced. He did not elaborate as to how it was unbalanced.

TVNZ advised that the item was a straightforward piece about a campaign to recover

millions of dollars in unpaid fines. The advertisements were structured as a game

show called "That's Procrastination" and were seen by TVNZ to be a zany method of

attempting to recover the outstanding debts. The reasons why people did not pay

their fines were outside the scope of the item, it said. TVNZ did not uphold the

complaint.

Dissatisfied with that action, Mr Terry referred the complaint to the Broadcasting

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

For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to determine the complaint.


Decision

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

the correspondence (summarised in the Appendix). On this occasion, the Authority

determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The Department of Courts' campaign to recover unpaid fines was reported in a news

item broadcast by TVNZ on One Network News on 6 April 1997 between

6.00–7.00pm.

Robert Terry complained that the item was unbalanced, but did not elaborate further.

He considered that people should not pay their fines, and cited his own experience of

not doing so.

TVNZ responded that the item was a straightforward piece about a campaign by a

government department. It was newsworthy because the Department of Courts was

using a novel approach – in its advertisements – to recover outstanding fines. The

reasons why people did not pay their fines, and Mr Terry's personal circumstances,

were, it maintained, outside the scope of the item.

The Authority views this complaint as bordering on vexatious. Mr Terry did not

identify the reasons why he believed the item was unbalanced, and did not advance

reasons for his dissatisfaction with the broadcaster's decision.

The Authority reminds Mr Terry that it has power under s.16(2) to award costs

against a complainant when:

(a) In the opinion of the Authority, the complaint is frivolous or vexatious

or one that ought not to have been made;


On this occasion, the Authority declines to determine the complaint in all the

circumstances.

 

For the reasons set forth above, under s.11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the

Authority declines in all the circumstances to determine the complaint.


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Sam Maling
Chairperson
10 July 1997

Appendix

Robert Terry's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 21 April 1997

A news item on One Network News broadcast by Television New Zealand Ltd on 20

April concerned the Department of Courts' campaign to recover unpaid fines. It

evoked a complaint from Mr Terry of Reefton.

In Mr Terry's view, the item was unbalanced. He considered that people should not

pay their fines. He referred to some correspondence he was having with the Minister

of Justice, the Department of Courts, the Ombudsmen and his local MP. Copies of

the correspondence were enclosed.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint – 9 May 1997

As requested by Mr Terry, the complaint was considered in the context of standard

G6 of the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. TVNZ advised that it believed

the news item was a straightforward piece about a campaign being launched by a

government department to recover millions of dollars in unpaid fines.

TVNZ considered it was a newsworthy item because the method being used to recover

the money was novel - by way of television advertisements.

The reasons why people did not pay their fines were outside the scope of the item,

TVNZ continued, and it found no indication that the item breached the requirements

of standard G6. It declined to uphold the complaint.

Mr Terry's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 26 May 1997

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's decision, Mr Terry referred the complaint to the

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

He gave no reasons for his dissatisfaction.

Mr Terry appended copies of correspondence about other matters.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority – 9 June 1997

TVNZ advised that it had no further comment to add to its previous letter. It added

that it considered the complaint vexatious.

No further comment was sought from Mr Terry.