BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Terry and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1997-168

Members
  • S R Maling (Chair)
  • R McLeod
  • L M Loates
  • J Withers
Dated
Complainant
  • Robert Terry
Number
1997-168
Programme
One Network News
Channel/Station
TV One


Summary

Dissatisfaction among some National Party backbenchers with the condition included

in the Coalition Agreement that a further three NZ First members were to become

Cabinet Ministers in October 1998, was reported in an item on One Network News,

broadcast between 6.00–7.00pm on 8 September 1997. The NZ First position in

response was put by its deputy leader, Mr Tau Henare.

Mr Terry complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the item

was unbalanced as it did not include any comment from the spokespeople of the other

parties in the MMP Parliament.

Maintaining that the balance was achieved in the item when it included the views of

NZ First, TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint.

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.


For the reasons 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). In this instance, the Authority

determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

The dissatisfaction felt by some National Party backbenchers at the provision in the

Coalition Agreement to appoint three more NZ First politicians to the Cabinet in 1998

was covered in an item on One Network News broadcast on 8 September. Mr Tau

Henare, the Deputy Leader of NZ First, replied on behalf of NZ First.

Because he believed all political parties represented in the MMP Parliament shared

the responsibility for the appointment of Cabinet Ministers, Mr Terry complained that

the item was unbalanced. It breached the standards, he said, as it did not include

comment from spokespeople from the other political parties.

Explaining that the appointment of Cabinet Ministers was a matter dealt with in the

Coalition Agreement between the National Party and NZ First, TVNZ maintained that

balance was achieved by the inclusion of Mr Henare's comments.

The Authority accepts that TVNZ interviewed the parties who were involved in the

process of appointing Cabinet Ministers. It notes that those appointments do not

require any discussion with the political parties which, although they are represented

in Parliament, are not part of the governing coalition.

Because Mr Terry appears to be misguided about the situation on which he has based

his complaint, the Authority considers that it is appropriate, in all the circumstances,

to decline to determine the complaint under s.11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

 

For the reasons given above, the Authority declines to determine the complaint

in all the circumstances.


Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Sam Maling
Chairperson
15 December 1997

Appendix


Mr Terry's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd - 9 September 1997

Robert Terry of Reefton complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about an item on

One Network News, broadcast between 6.00 - 7.00pm on 8 September 1997.

The item had reported that there was dissatisfaction among some National Party

backbenchers with the provision in the Coalition Agreement that, in October 1998,

three further members of NZ First would be appointed to Cabinet. Mr Terry

considered that the item was unbalanced in that, in the MMP environment, it did not

include the views of all the political parties represented in Parliament who, he

claimed, shared a degree of responsibility for the appointment of cabinet ministers.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint - 29 September 1997

Assessing the complaint under standard G6 of the Television Code of Broadcasting

Practice, TVNZ said balance on the matter raised by the National backbenchers was

provided by a NZ First spokesperson. When Winston Peters, the party leader

declined to comment, an interview with Tau Henare, the deputy leader, was broadcast.

As cabinet appointments in the present Coalition situation were a matter of agreement

between National and NZ First, TVNZ stated that the requirements of standard G6

had been satisfied. It declined to uphold the complaint.

Mr Terry's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority - 20 October 1997

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

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

Natural balance, he wrote, required the input of opposition members.

TVNZ's Report to the Authority - 31 October 1997

Unable to understand the reasons for the referral, TVNZ had nothing to add to the

complaint. It advised that it had also received from Mr Terry his membership card for

the Youth Independence Party, and a copy of a letter he had written to the Greymouth

Evening Star about the Americas Cup.