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Golden and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2019-009 (4 June 2019 )

  • Paula Rose
  • Wendy Palmer
  • Susie Staley
  • Allan Golden
Radio New Zealand Ltd
Radio New Zealand National


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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that a host’s comment during Nights, regarding the likelihood of the manned moon landings being fake, was inaccurate. The comment occurred during a talkback segment of the programme, with the host providing his response to an email received from the complainant. In this context, the statement by the host was not a material point of fact but a statement of comment or opinion, to which the requirements of the accuracy standard do not apply.

Not Upheld: Accuracy  

The item

[1]  Following an interview on Nights, the host read out an email received from the complainant, who, among other things, argued that the United States (US) was ‘lying’ about the manned moon landings. In response, the host  commented:

It is possible that about fifty thousand people who were involved in the Apollo mission have all managed to keep a lid and keep the lie going for the best part of fifty years about faking the moon landings. It is possible, maybe. It’s extremely unlikely.

[2]  The item was broadcast on 22 January 2019 on RNZ National.

The complaint

[3]  Allan Golden complained that the assertions made by the presenter were inaccurate and misleading, as the moon landings were not proven.  

[4]  The broadcaster, RNZ, found that the complaint did not identify any issue of substance under the accuracy standard. RNZ did not uphold the complaint.

[5]  In considering this complaint, we have listened to a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

The standard and relevant guidelines

[6]  The accuracy standard (Standard 9) states that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead.

[7]  The requirement for accuracy does not apply to statements which are clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion, rather than statements of fact.1 Guideline 9d to the standard states that talkback programmes will not usually be subject to the accuracy standard.

Our findings

[8]   We all agreed that this particular segment of Nights amounted to a talkback segment, during which the host responded to comments received from a listener. In this context, we consider that the host’s response was clearly distinguishable as analysis, comment or opinion, to which the requirements of the accuracy standard do not apply.

[9]  As part of this process, RNZ has indicated that it intends to seek from Mr Golden reimbursement of the costs incurred in processing his complaint. Section 16(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 allows the Authority to order any party to pay to any other party reasonable costs and expenses, which may be apportioned in a manner the Authority thinks fit.

[10]  However, section 16(2) of the Act states that costs may only be ordered against the complainant in certain circumstances, for example, where the Authority declines to determine the complaint on the basis that it is frivolous, trivial or vexatious. We are unable to order an award of costs against the complainant where, such as here, a complaint has been considered and not upheld.

[11]  We therefore make no order for costs on this occasion.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.  

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority




Paula Rose


4 June 2019






The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority:

1      Allan Golden’s formal complaint – 5 February 2019  

2      RNZ’s response to the complaint – 13 February 2019

3      Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 4 March 2019

4      RNZ’s further comments – 21 March 2019

5      Mr Golden’s further comments – 26 March 2019


1 Guideline 9a