BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Dennehy and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2022-054 (21 June 2022)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Aroha Beck
  • Joe Dennehy
1 News
TV One


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

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint under the accuracy standard regarding a broadcaster’s statement that Maria Sharapova won her first ‘grand slam’ at 17 years old. The complaint was that the term ‘grand slam’ consists of winning all four major tennis competitions in a calendar year, a feat which Sharapova has not achieved. The Authority declined to determine the complaint on the basis it was trivial and did not warrant consideration.

Declined to Determine: Accuracy (section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 – trivial)

The broadcast

[1]  During a segment of an episode of 1 News on 21 April 2022, the host, Andrew Saville spoke of Maria Sharapova’s tennis legacy, stating the following:

Now it’s almost two decades since 17 year old Maria Sharapova stunned the tennis world, claiming her maiden grand slam.

The complaint

[2]  Joe Dennehy complained that the broadcast breached the accuracy standard of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice for the following reason:

The announcer Andrew Saville referred to Maria Sharapova as having won a tennis grand slam. The nub of the [dispute] is that a grand slam is defined as winning all four majors in a calendar year.
She won Wimbledon in 2004 beating Williams. This is given as proof that the report was accurate. Winning a "Major" is not the same achievement as winning a grand slam.

The broadcaster’s response

[3]  TVNZ did not uphold Denney’s complaint, and stated the complainant was incorrect:

Maria Sharapova has won five grand slams. No breach of standard 9 has been identified.

[4]  TVNZ provided links to the Britannica and Wikipedia pages for Maria Sharapova, which provided the following descriptions:

[Maria Sharapova] was one of the game’s leading contenders in the early 21st century, the winner of five Grand Slam titles… In 2004 she defeated Serena Williams in the final at Wimbledon to win her first Grand Slam… in 2008 she claimed her third Grand Slam, at the Australian Open.1

To date, Sharapova has won thirty-six WTA singles titles including five Grand Slams.2

Outcome: Decline to determine

[5]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine complaints if it considers they are frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. A ‘trivial’ complaint is defined as one which is of little or no importance and is at such a level not to justify it being treated as a serious complaint.3

[6]  We consider this complaint to be trivial. The complaint concerns the technical meaning of the phrase ‘grand slam’; however, we note there are other meanings to the phrase, and that it is commonly used when describing a person who has won one of the four grand slam majors, or when describing a person who has won all four majors during their career. There are multiple articles including from the International Tennis Federation and the Women’s Tennis Association which describe Sharapova as a ‘grand slam’ winner.4

[7]  The broadcaster’s response adequately addressed the complaint and provided sources for the statement. The time and resources of the Authority, which are sustained by broadcasters and the public, should not be spent on such matters and we decline to determine this complaint.

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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Susie Staley
21 June 2022    




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

1  Joe Dennehy’s formal complaint – 21 April 2022

2  TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 20 May 2022

3  Dennehy’s referral to the Authority – 20 May 2022

4  TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comments – 26 May 2022

1 Wikipedia “Maria Sharapova career statistics” (accessed 23 May 2022) <>
2 Amy Tikkanen “Maria Sharapova – Russian Tennis Player” Britannica (last updated 15 April 2022) <>
3 Guidance: BSA Power to Decline to Determine a Complaint, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 66
4 “Sharapova announces her retirement from tennis” International Tennis Federation (26 February 2020) <>; Haresh Ramchandani “Russia, Grand Slam, Sugarpova: 11 questions about Maria Sharapova” Tennis Majors (10 August 2021) <>